What Truly Motivates Your Customers?

Here’s the hard truth: No one wants to buy your product or service. What your customers do want is an answer to one of their basic psychological motivations— needs, wants, desires and fears.

Needs are things you think you must have, such as medicine when you’re sick. This is the premise of traditional marketing; find a need and fill it.

Wants are things you can survive without but would like to have anyway—like candy or a new shirt.

Desires are things you dream about; things you don’t necessarily expect to get but serve as very powerful motivators—wealth, fame, romance, adventure.

Fears are things you don’t want to happen, such as the fear someone else will try a new product first or that you’ll make a bad choice. Buyers balance needs, wants and desires against fears in the final purchasing decision.

You can strengthen your market position by learning how these psychological factors, along with the psychological impact of your graphics and marketing message, affect your target audience. Change your strategy from marketing features and benefits to marketing the promise that you can satisfy at least one buyer motivation.

Thread your marketing promise into every element, including product image, advertising and promotion strategy, product packaging and display and even pricing strategy. Design and copy should lead the reader quickly to how you can meet a need, want, desire or fear. Graphics will have better recall than words so choose images that are harmonious with your copy. Color is an important emotional trigger, but you should select it carefully as every shade has both a positive and negative connotation. Red as the dominant color might successfully evoke an image of love and passion, but it might also tap into the darker feelings of rage and violence. Green can stimulate thoughts of money and self-actualization, but greed and envy are associated with this hue as well.

Case Study: Imagine you are a manufacturer of cologne, and 90% of customers say that they purchased your product because it smells good. That is logical. You pour marketing dollars into promoting how you have the best-smelling scent on the planet, but you have pallets of unsold bottles in your warehouse. Why? Because we often make purchases for emotional reasons, such as acceptance and association, then justify them with a rational explanation. The challenge for marketers is to unearth those secret reasons for making a purchase.

In the cologne example, the hidden impetus is that your product makes the wearer feel more attractive. Change your marketing pitch from how good the cologne smells to how your product will fulfill the purchaser’s desire to be alluring. By matching what you have to offer with the true motivation of your customer, you create a win-win marketing strategy.

In short, you can create print marketing that is well-designed and well-written, but that still fails miserably if it’s not credible. Pair a good product or service with a focused marketing strategy based on an understanding of what truly motivates your customers, and you will dominate your market.