Buying Habits Are Unconscious: How to Tap Into Them
If you don't tap into the buying habits of your prospects, which are mostly unconscious, you’ll struggle to convert prospects into customers. Being in business means you have a product or service you want to sell. This means you’ll need to invest in some marketing. It may be easy to follow a formula for the “perfect” sales page or brochure, but it won’t necessarily translate into sales.
Let me tell you a story to help illustrate:
Jürgen is a good friend of mine. He’s also German which is a fact that’s relevant to this article.
I’d trust Jürgen with my life, my wife and my money. He also passes the toughest of trust tests: I would also trust him with my motorbike (fortunately my wife will never read this article!).
However, it’s probably also true that outside of Jürgen’s wife and son, I am the only friend he has here in Australia.
Why Jürgen is virtually friendless is simple and, at the risk of being hauled before some sort of government tribunal for racism, I’ll say what everybody who knows him would say about him: Jürgen is a very “German German.”
I have extensive personal experience with Germans because my wife is one and so now, officially at least, half my family are German.
They are typically very direct in their communication – I will never die wondering what my beloved is thinking. My friends tell me that she’s good for me … “she keeps you in your place” – wherever that is.
The German directness and frankness is an almost universal national characteristic that I greatly admire because it saves a lot of mucking around.
While others dance around a delicate subject, as the old song “tip toe through the tulips” highlights, my German family are more likely to hop into a Panzer tank, rev the engine to maximum thrust, and then charge right through the middle of the whole darned flower bed. Not subtle perhaps but very effective.
So when I say that Jürgen is a “German German,” I mean that he possesses the characteristic of bluntness in measures well beyond most of his countrymen.
For example, this weekend I boasted to him that I bought a pair of reading glasses at the local discount shop for only $6.95.
Jürgen’s response: “Vell you are zery stupid den. I pay only zree dollar”. That’s Jürgen. No offence meant, none taken. However, now you can see why he doesn’t have many friends.
In addition to his bluntness, Jürgen takes a while to warm up to people. He reckons that people who are friendly can’t be trusted. The very first time I met him he literally stood back, said nothing and looked down his nose while squinting at me like I’d just crawled out of a sewer.
He repeated this procedure for the next four meetings. No smile and not a word during any of those five meetings. So I made a goal of becoming Jürgen’s friend. First, because for some inexplicable reason I actually liked him. Second, because I wanted to see if it was actually possible. It wasn’t until the sixth time we met and after I got a couple of beers into him that he spoke to me.
Recently Jürgen asked me to help him with a court case. It turns out someone ripped him off and Jürgen is not one to take that sort of thing lying down. Can you hear the Panzer tank revving up?
What makes the problem worse is that the case is going to be heard by a magistrate that took an instant dislike to Jürgen in a previous case.
So Jürgen asked me why I thought the magistrate took a dislike to him while he (the magistrate) treated the defendant like an old friend. Not much of a mystery there Jürgen, I explained.
(BTW: Imagine that Jürgen has scruffy stubble on his face, never smiles and wears a rope in place of a belt. Get the picture?)
According to Jürgen, the fact that he looks about as happy as a dead weasel, is as well dressed as a street person and is as approachable as a rabid Rottweiler should have absolutely no effect on the magistrate whatsoever. Apparently, the magistrate should simply not see any of this.
Somewhere in Jürgen’s most “German of German” brains, he’s decided that humans should act more like computers, and he was completely bewildered when I explained the concept of the unconscious mind.
Given that some of the greatest scientists and philosophers that ever lived were Germans, it’s surprising that Jürgen somehow managed to miss out on that part of the German gene pool.
First I suggested that he request the case be heard by a different magistrate (first impressions tend to stick). Then I suggested he shave, find some shoes that don’t have holes in the toes, iron his shirt and take his very attractive, and infinitely friendlier, wife with him to the courtroom.
(I also had him practice smiling, but it looked more like a toothy growl. We abandoned the idea when it started scaring my dog.)
While you may have chuckled at my story of Jürgen’s naivety, ponder this: have you demonstrated a similar lack of awareness to people’s buying motives?
When was the last time that you stepped back and considered that your customers are motivated to buy your services or products because an unconscious emotion was activated – not because they needed it, or even had a rational reason for it?
Granted, buyers rationally justify their purchases all the time through the benefits and features meeting their needs. However, it wasn’t the rational part of their brain working when the decision was made. Whether it as an old and nostalgic memory or a fear-based or approval-driven reason, it was some unconscious emotion that was activated.
Consider the ambient mood that a supermarket sets with irritating “mood music”, specific lighting, and super-smiling staff, all there to welcome you in like family.
Why spend a gazillion on lighting?
They know that happy people spend more. Grumpy people are tightwads.
You can stop missing out on sales if you step back before writing another piece of copy and consider the following questions in the context of your product or service:
- What do my clients hate doing?
- What do my clients hate happening?
- What do my clients wish for?
- What recurring frustrations do they have?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll likely tap into your customer’s unconscious buying motivators. Then massage these questions and answers into your next brochure, sign, website, letter, or email – anything that your prospective customers and clients are going to read. Continue to refine them and see your sales conversions increase.
- Buying Habits Are Unconscious: How to Tap Into Them - June 3, 2017
- The Key Advantages of Small Business – It is All in Your Personality - April 23, 2017
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"The problem is not your product. The problem is your marketing. Chances are you have a '10' product trapped inside '2' marketing." Tom Poland