Existence Is Suffering and So Is Purchasing

Buying is painful.

I’m not talking about those awful websites with the hideous, unusual interfaces. I’m looking at you, websites which don’t have carts in 2020.

(Yes, they exist.)

Those just make buying more painful.

But it’s never a painless process. The strange and intriguing field of neuroeconomics shows it’s literally painful to part with money. You could buy a gold-plated mansion for $700 and you’d still feel a twinge.

And a twinge is all it is. I’m not saying your head splits apart when you part with a dollar. But that twinge is enough to stop folks. That’s why ecommerce aims to be as seamless as possible – they want the customer to complete the purchase before the twinge gets too bad.

But how could this be? People like to buy things, right? Retail therapy doesn’t have the same vibe as shock therapy…

Money isn’t money. It’s power and opportunity. And, sure, you can always earn more, but you can’t get it back once you part with it – refunds aside.

What does this mean for your marketing?

A few things.

Known entities are more familiar and less painful. The first time you buy a particular brand of potato chips is the worst. After that, it gets easier because there’s less uncertainty (which is a form of pain in itself).

What if you sell one-off items, like smartphones? You can still be a known or an unknown entity. How small a twinge do Apple fans feel before buying an iPhone? The phone might be new but the brand isn’t.

Subscriptions work the same. It’s much, much easier to keep an existing subscriber than to attract a new one.

But what if none of that applies?

What if you’re relatively unknown and selling one-off things?

That’s when you use this classic marketing technique:

You make the pain of not buying greater than the pain of buying.

Consider my usual examples of coaching and hypnotherapy:

Say someone is struggling at work. They’re talented enough to earn a promotion – in fact, based on who gets chosen instead of them, they’re overqualified – but something holds them back.

Maybe they’re too timid to go for it.

Or they perform great in every environment except the interview.

Or perhaps they’re a superstar with an unfortunate quirk, like angry outbursts or overworking their people.

Then here’s the truth:

Signing up for a session with you would cost money, which would be painful.

But remaining as they are would be so much worse.

It’s up to your marketing to make this clear.

Now, sleazy marketers will invent new pains for their market. They’ll drum up some fake fear or misery, then sell the solution. I won’t pretend that doesn’t make money, because it does. Long-term, though? It leads to refunds, a bad reputation and a lot of lost opportunities.

Your market has plenty of real pains already. There’s no need to cook more.

And when you take those discomforts away, they’ll love you for it.

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