Why People Buy?

True, people buy to fill a need or want. But if that’s the only reason people buy, then the whole advertising industry might as well close shop and let it be overrun by sales people.

As a freelance copywriter, finding out what motivates people to purchase a particular product is crucial.

It allows me to target my message to the right audience, ensure relevant context and employ proper tone-of-voice.

Although it may seem some people buy for no reason at all... think again!

Here are 10 reasons why people buy, aside from fulfilling a need or want. There are definitely more, but I’m just being a bit lazy today.

1. Pleasure
To feel good about themselves – luxury cars, jewelry, yachts and the like.

2. Appear Special
To be like someone else – Brad Pitt Tag Heuer or Aishwarya Rai Loreal anyone?

3. Indulgence
To reward themselves – that 2-week trip to Paris sounds nice right?

4. Peer Pressure
To belong, or be accepted – smoke this, you’ll feel like a man.

5. Emotional Need
To replace or substitute a loss – nobody loves me, but I love chocolates!

6. Great Bargain
To win – this lawnmower is too cheap, although I don’t need it.

7. Poser
To be hip, cool, awesome –  iPhone 5, Onitsuka Kicks, 3DTV… I want them all.

8. Obligation
To feel less guilty – awwww… that’s very thoughtful of you, now I got to get you a gift too!

9. Circumstances
To shut the sales dude up – okay fine, these glow-in-the-dark photo frames are exactly what I need.

10. Convenience
It’s easy – why cook when we can tapau, get food delivered or just walk to the nearest mamak?

Obstacle Buster

Remember the times when you read an ad and it spoke to your soul. Or browsed a website and you felt like clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button. That’s because you were convinced by a copywriter that used a secret weapon – BUSTING OBSTACLES.

What obstacle? It’s anything that would have prevented you from buying.

You see, it’s highly unlikely that an ad will create the need for someone to buy just because the copy spot-on. I mean, if you have no intention of buying a bike; you will not buy a bike no matter how awesomely compelling the copywriting is.

Road Obstacles
The road to purchase is filled with obstacles... bust em'!

This is what normally happens; you first aspire to own a particular product – let’s say an iPad – because you think it’s somehow made for you. Then you take notice of Apple’s ads and visit their website to justify a purchase decision you have already made in your head.

You think you’re doing it “for more information”, but in fact you are doing this to look for any reason to buy. And this is how it often becomes a copywriter’s job to remove as many obstacles that would prevent a prospect from buying. But how?

Don’t hide the benefits
Yes, a purchase decision has been made but there’s no harm reassuring the prospect. Don’t ever assume they already know. And even if they do know; repeating a benefit will only make them feel smarter; that “they are in the know”.

Don’t be shy with your product
Appeal to emotions by demonstrating the product in use. This paints a picture that the prospect is happily using the product in his head. People buy things to realize their aspirations and dreams; put the product there. Think how Apple advertises.

Don’t always stop short
Short copy works if you don’t have much time to convey the message, but long copy is the one that can turn a “no” into a “yes”. Websites offer the perfect opportunity to be copy intensive; start concise in landing pages, but go wild with content when users click-through.

Don’t over-expose
Resist the urge to say everything all at once. Leave that special something to be desired, because we all like to be tempted and teased. This goes against conventional wisdom, but works really well to push prospects over the tipping point.

Don’t forget the spouse
More often than not, the spouse has to be consulted before making any major purchasing decisions. Give reasons prospects can use on their partner to help close the deal. In case of the iPad, being able to read in bed without the lights on could convince your significant other to approve the purchase; because he/she can finally get some sleep.