The Real Reason Why Your Customers Don't Buy From You

If you ask sales people what makes their product great, they'll cite great pricing, functional benefits, and the amazing support they are able to provide. In that case, why do some customers choose to stick with suppliers who may not have the best pricing and provide perhaps only average support for an older product? What is the real reason behind your customer's decision to buy (or not to buy) from you?

Well, of course the 4Ps of marketing are important for anyone in sales and marketing, but after consulting with a few startups and launching several digital products in large companies, here's what I've learnt about getting customers to buy from you.

1. Don't Just Sell, Inspire!

Most marketing methods are manipulative, especially in the FMCG, fashion and beauty industry. Such techniques create desire from societal pressures - If you're not using the latest gadgets, for example, you're told you're losing out as you can't perform tasks A-Z unlike your peers. These techniques usually work in the short term but what about the long term? You'll notice that the selling points for such techniques are very much functional, price sensitive and difficult to sustain.

However, if your marketing messaging strives to inspire, it sets your customers thinking that if they were part of your world, they'll be a part of a journey to something greater in future. When you inspire them, they'll follow you as their leader. Apple employed this technique very effectively. Instead of marketing the iPod as an "X GB MP3 Player", they chose instead to market it as "1000 songs in your pocket".

Honestly, your customers don't care as much about WHAT is inside whatever they are buying. They care more about HOW what they buy integrates into their lives and WHY it will make it better for them. By incepting the idea of having 1000 songs in the customer's pocket, Apple made it easy for customers to start imagining all the other possibilities this promise encompasses -- perhaps a 1000 movies, perhaps more, in the near future. This gives customers a sense of purpose, knowing that they are part of this journey. Instead of hearing "You guys have the best prices and best products!", I'd rather hear from a customer say "I don't know, I just love them.".

2. Stop FocusING On Your Product

So how does one inspire? A simple approach would be to focus less on your product and more your customer. A great example of this is how Apple designs the layout of their shops and decides on the placement of their products. Many other competitors have since followed suit but most have failed to understand the idea behind it -- it isn't just about putting a few laptops on large tables over a sparse amount of rental space.

The reason why that particular layout stood out so significantly for Apple was because Windows had been frequently associated with clutter. With the use of clean and tidy layouts, Apple effectively made their MacBooks a symbol of the decluttered life which owning a MacBook would bring. This idea of a "decluttered lifestyle" is what sets them apart and sells their laptops. 

So the next time you design your marketing message, focus less on your product and more on your customers. Don't just tell them how good your product is; show them how buying your product will improve their lives. The image above very aptly depicts what your customers are truly looking for when they buy from you. [credits to]

3. Lifestyle TRUMPS Novelty

Lastly, it is true that novelty sells. Many startup founders I speak with tend to put the spotlight on the novelty of their products. When you're first in your market, that is truly a strong marketing angle you can use to your advantage. However, the longer it stays that way, the harder it will be for you to determine if your product really solves a real problem for your customer and better their lives or if they're just buying it for novelty's sake. If your marketing message and business angle isn't about being novel but truly to better the lives of your customers, you will most certainly have built a brand that sets a higher barrier of entry for competitors.

While there are still many reasons, the main point is that many startups are too self-absorbed and focus on their product way too much that they neglect the WHY in the marketing messaging. Most customers don't buy your product because you say it's good. They buy from you, because they believe what you stand for is great.