Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to know why their products attract buyers and why they don't. This article shows a quick way to think about why customers buy and how to design your offers to take advantage of their reasons.
By Sue Painter
Here’s a fun way to figure out why people are willing to get out their credit card to buy from you, a small business owner. Ready? Sit down and think about why YOU bought the last dozen items you spent money on. You might be surprised at the reasons, and you can use the insight to help structure the offers you make to your own customers.
I just spent over $200 on Magellan’s travel supplies website. Why?
1. I got their new spring catalog in the mail (direct mail, timing was right as I have several trips coming up, the catalog renewed my TOMA (top of mind awareness) about Magellan’s.) The key here? Timing! I regularly receive Magellan’s catalog and most usually pitch it without looking. But I’m excited about upcoming travel, and I needed to refresh a few things. LESSON LEARNED: Keeping in touch with your customers over time is critical, even if they haven’t bought from you in a while.
2. A notice on the catalog’s front cover offered free shipping on orders over $100. I figured almost any order would come to that amount, and free shipping saves me money. A deadline on the free shipping (May 9th) spurred me to take action now rather than put it off. LESSON LEARNED: Make your special offers time-limited, with a relatively short time frame.
3. Let’s look at what I ordered and my reason for each purchase.
Spill-proof pouch - because the last time I was on a plane one of my face care products leaked out into my cosmetic bag. This pouch SOLVES A PROBLEM.
Electronics travel case - I didn’t go looking for this item, but I saw it browsing the catalog. I’m thinking “Hmm, I’m sure tired of all my various chargers and USB cables getting into a big knot at the bottom of my briefcase, so maybe I’ll try this. This purchase SOLVES A PROBLEM and was a win for Magellan’s because of 1) A GOOD IDEA and 2) SUGGESTED SELLING.
Personalized Luggage Strap - This is actually a gift for my husband. His luggage looks similar to many, and more than once he’s picked up someone else’s at the airport. The strap WORKS AS A GIFT and helps SOLVE A PROBLEM.
Extra-large mesh pack-it cube - These things are hard to find in large sizes, so Magellan’s gets a star for carrying them. They allow me to pack clothing inside my luggage and quickly pull out what I need without digging around. And if you get stopped for inspection, you can easily pull these out without re-shuffling and wrinkling your clothing. For years now I’ve used 2 gallon kitchen zipper bags, but the zippers don’t hold up to being open and closed over and over again, and for some reason the 2 gallon size is now hard to find. These mesh cubes SOLVE A PROBLEM but also GAVE ME A FEELING OF LUXURY. I get to graduate from packing my clothes in baggies.
Blackberry pouch - When I’m sight-seeing I try hard not to lug around a purse, but I often need my phone and camera with me. This handy little pouch hangs around the neck and will hold both my Blackberry and my small camera. Perfect! Again, solves a problem and makes something easier for me.
Walk stool - One of the downsides of having a new knee is that it’s still hard for me to stand on concrete for very long without pain. This innovative product offers a sturdy, foldable instant stool but weights only a pound and can hang off a belt, a backpack, a purse, or my shoulder. Next time I think I better not go on a walking tour because we’ll stand and listen to a guide for 15 minutes, I’ll be able to go and know I can sit when I need to. HUGE problem solved for me and a solution I can live with (not too heavy or too bulky, small and easy to pack).
Blow-up neck pillow - I use this on planes all the time, and foolishly over inflated mine a few trips ago. POW! It burst at 30,000 feet and that was the end of that! I’ve looked around in airports but balked at paying $30.00 or so. Magellan’s had one on sale for $12.99. What sold me? REASONABLE PRICING and PROBLEM SOLVED.
As you can see, I’m a buyer who will spend for solving problems. I also respond to suggested selling and to the feeling of having something a little fancier for myself. But these are not the only reasons Magellan’s got $200 from me.
1. Their website is easy to maneuver and loads quickly.
2. They offer customer reviews of their products, which talked me into the stool and the Blackberry pouch.
3. Their page for each item tells me immediately that the item is in stock. (One of my pet peeves is ordering online only to find that the item isn’t due in for 30 days or so.)
4. Their page for each item offers more pictures than the catalog, allowing me to “look” at items in detail.
5. Their check-out process is easy. I’ve jumped off of more than one website that was hard to maneuver or had excessive checkout procedures, and I’ll bet you have, too.
Take a look at what you’ve spent money on and list the reasons why you bought. You can then look at what you offer to others and think about whether your offers are attractive for those same reasons. If they don’t, tweak them and your sales copy, and see if your sales improve. Knowing why you buy and turning it around will help you to see why some of your customers buy from you.
Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding. She develops business plans that work, and strategic marketing plans that take dead aim at your target market. You can subscribe to her Marketing Tips e-zine at http://www.confidentmarketer.com .