What is the most important factor in the decision to buy something?

by 44 comments
There are plenty of theories about why certain sales copy turns readers into customers. Each piece of copy has the same objective but will go about it in a different way. I feel that every piece of copy also has one main selling point. Whether it's a low price, the novelty or exclusivity of a product or the ability to receive said product immediately, there is always one thing which tips the scales and makes the reader buy what you are selling.

I would love to hear what you guys think is the most important factor in the buying decision. What do you think is the last piece of the puzzle, the last bit of weight that tips those scales? If your reader is on the fence, what pushes them over to the other side?

I look forward to the responses, discussions on this sub-forum are always quite lively.
#copy writing #advice #buy #copy #copywriting #decision #factor #important #sales
  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    The sale hinges on confidence.

    If the prospect doesn't have confidence that the product will meet her need, deliver on its promise, there will be no sale.

    It's the meat in the selling sandwich, placed between the bread of attention and urgency.
    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      I agree with Pusateri... believability is the most important factor.

      I'd put the selling sandwich together differently, though. Attention and irresistible offer between the bread.

      Alex
    • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      The sale hinges on confidence.

      If the prospect doesn't have confidence that the product will meet her need, deliver on its promise, there will be no sale.

      It's the meat in the selling sandwich, placed between the bread of attention and urgency.

      I like your sandwich analogy, it prompted me to have lunch.

      I'd have to agree that confidence in the product or service is incredibly important. I would even add to that and say that one of the most important elements in good copy is creating a feeling of legitimacy around the product or service being offered. I think this is done in a number of ways and one of the most important is using the right terminology.

      If your targeted market is very specific, let's say it's doctors or investors, then you need to use the right words and phrases to make it seem like the product or service is a part of that market.
  • Profile picture of the author copyassassin
    Originally Posted by Shadowflux View Post

    What is the most important factor in the decision to buy something?

    Shadowflux,

    Strangely enough, what I'm about to share has little to do with copywriting; yet, I find these factors to be present in almost every single case in niched services/products:
    • Very high demand, low supply
    • Deadline, with negative consequences for not making deadline (IRS, health)
    • Predetermination to buy
  • Profile picture of the author Rezbi
    All other things being equal, the thing that makes people buy is desire.

    If they don't want the product, they won't buy, no matter what.

    Keep in mind, desire could be inate. Something they're not yet aware of.
    • Profile picture of the author TheSalesBooster
      Solves a problem.
    • Profile picture of the author stephenwaldo
      Originally Posted by Rezbi View Post

      All other things being equal, the thing that makes people buy is desire.

      If they don't want the product, they won't buy, no matter what.

      Keep in mind, desire could be inate. Something they're not yet aware of.
      My thoughts exactly. Desire is the most important factor. All people do exactly what they want.

      Just look around this forum. Plenty of folks here who think they want to make money, but they actually want to linger on forums all day socializing. So they do.

      Your job is to figure out what the prospect ACTUALLY wants, and then either give it to them or convince them they want something else.
  • Profile picture of the author ERPLeadsWriter
    Originally Posted by Shadowflux View Post

    Whether it's a low price, the novelty or exclusivity of a product or the ability to receive said product immediately, there is always one thing which tips the scales and makes the reader buy what you are selling.
    The answer to your question is actually any of these things. It can just be one, a pair, or an entire combination. The important thing to remember is to know your target audience. What matters most to them and in what order?
  • Profile picture of the author verial
    One of the things a good copywriter recognizes before even beginning to write is whether the decision-making process is a:

    1) Should I buy this?


    or a:

    2) Which one should I buy?

    Knowing the answer will guide your copy down one of two routes:

    1) Convincing the prospect to buy (as opposed to go without)

    or

    2) Convincing the prospect to buy this one (as opposed to buying a competitor's)

    If your writing objective doesn't match the reader's mindset, you're setting yourself up for low conversions.
  • Profile picture of the author zthfitness
    Believability is HUGE... it was Mr. Halbert that said the #1 reason people DON'T buy is that they simply DO NOT BELIEVE YOU!
    • Profile picture of the author cjp214
      Shadowflux,

      The way I see it, there are not one but several "fences" you have to knock your prospects off before you can get them to open up their wallets.

      Here are just a few I can think of:
      • "Do I pay attention to this marketing message?"
      • "Do I read the message beyond the headline (or whatever it was that caught my attention in the first place?)"
      • "Does this product/service address a problem I'm having?"
      • "Why should I buy this product/service instead of a cheaper/different alternative?"
      • "Do I even believe what this ad's saying?"
      • "Is the offer being made worth the money?"
      • "Do I really have to act now... or can I just set this aside for later?"
      Phew. That's a lot of fences!

      But if you've led your prospect all the way through your copy, kept their interest, and channeled their innate desire (I don't believe copy can create desire...only channel and amplify it) towards your product, that final fence you have to get over is getting themselves to act now.

      They already want the product. They want their problem to go away. But they need to believe you enough to give you a chance (a solid guarantee helps with this)... and they need an impetuous to act now (premiums, negative consequences, etc.)

      If they're on that last fence, I think it's a combo of credibility and a giving them a reason to act this second.

      Corey
  • Profile picture of the author Steve The Copywriter
    Yes, all the above...

    Before anyone buys - the product, service, offer - must give a resounding ping to the right emotion (the research shows the key emotion) - and you need to justify the decision with a helpful dash of logic.

    You're creating an "itch" that the prospect simply has to scratch.


    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author mrdomains
    Greed.

    If you stop to think about it, greed is the driving force behind almost every lust, desire, ambition, ego, etc, all of which are triggers to sale. The only occassions when greed is not behind it all is when compassion is the driving force.
  • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
    There is one thing in my mind that is above all else (including desire, value etc). Not ready to share it though. Maybe when I retire. You know, follow in the footsteps of The Bencivenga.

    Don't PM me either because you will be disappointed when you don't get it from me.
    • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
      Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

      There is one thing in my mind that is above all else (including desire, value etc). Not ready to share it though. Maybe when I retire. You know, follow in the footsteps of The Bencivenga.

      Don't PM me either because you will be disappointed when you don't get it from me.
      Nah. That ain't it.
  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    Cool thread and everyone who's posted here is right.

    Buyers will go over the edge deciding to buy for multiple reasons.

    And while you might be able to identify one key in one buyer it's
    probably going to be a different key in another.

    Writing good copy is about hitting multiple buying triggers well so
    that different kinds of prospects in different emotional states and
    situations will all become more likely to buy.

    If there was just one thing that worked all the time for everyone that would be
    really cool...we could all just write copy based on that trigger.

    If only it was so simple.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
  • Profile picture of the author BudaBrit
    Most of the copy I read here and elsewhere is targeted at individuals. Business copy is inherrently different so there is one rule for each.

    Selling to an individual, you should be focussing on what they WANT.

    If you can show someone that this is something they want, then they're going to buy it. Fullstop. If it's something that an individual NEEDS, then they're not going to make that instant decision that makes the sale. The more times they click away from your page, the less likely the sale becomes.

    With a need, they'll be researching it in depth: finding out what it really is they need from this product. With a want, they're just going to click on buy.

    So, surely the most important thing to make sure of in your copy - to individuals - is making it clear that they want this. They want it really bad. Much in the way Apple fan boys will queue outside the shops waiting for the next iBog Roll to come on sale, you've got to get that WANT.

    Not my idea, though Someone famous', though I can't remember who right now. But that's another thing to do: steal. Well, it's not exactly stealing, more borrowing, but borrow those great ideas that have truly worked.

    This site, imo, has it down to a tee. Perfect. www.jpeterman.com
  • Profile picture of the author BeauJustin
    You have made the value of your product easy to perceive, understand
    and believe to your ideal customer. To close the deal you have weighted
    the perceived value of said product to be much greater than the perceived
    cost of said product.

    Unpack and enjoy.
    • Profile picture of the author Tim Bazley
      People always make a buying decision based on emotion, then justify their decision with logic and reason.

      You must satisfy both to make a sale and that means knowing what appeals to both their emotional and logical sides.

      If we take the the decision to buy a new car...

      Someone may decide to buy because they're thinking how much the new car will impress their friends or how sexy it'll make them look to the opposite sex.

      Then they'll justify the decision by thinking..."it also does 50 to the gallon, I'll save so much money on fuel".

      Of course, you'll need to know what these 'triggers' are in your customer in order to pitch in a way to activate them, which means lots of customer research.

      Hope that helps!
  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    At the most basic level, a prospect would buy your product to
    satisfy a need. The intensity of that need has been often been
    ranked using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs after a theory in
    psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A
    Theory of Human Motivation
    ". Although his theory has been
    criticized, it is still considered a fundamental teaching of
    developmental psychology.

    You may recall that Maslow ranked human needs from
    physiological to safety to love and belong to esteem,
    and the highest being self actualization. The idea is that
    humans would seek to satisfy their physiological needs
    such as for food and water before thinking about their
    safety. In the same sense, we would seek for physical
    safety before self esteem.

    According to Eugene Schwartz in his seminal work, “Breakthrough
    Advertising”, every product performs a certain “role” in the
    prospect’s life. This role is closely tied to the “desire of
    your prospect to act out a certain role in his life.” The
    copywriter must keep this in mind when crafting his copy and
    portray the product as an instrument to help achieve this role
    and a means of providing acknowledgment that the roles have
    already been achieved.

    Schwartz goes on to explain that every product should be
    advertised using these two motivations—a desire to fulfill a need
    and a method to fulfill the need that would place the buyer in
    new position with respect to his peers.
    The second motivation can
    be considered metaphysical in the sense that it cannot be easily
    measured and can all be in the mind of the prospect—how he feels
    other people feels about him now he owns your product.

    This can best be illustrated if we look at a practical example.
    The average buyer buys a car for its function of transportation
    and safety. The affluent are no longer just thinking about such
    “basic” needs but are thinking of how the vehicle makes them
    look, such as sophisticated, modern or accomplished. The car now
    becomes a status symbol. Using Maslow’s model, they are seeking
    the higher levels of self-esteem and self actualization.

    Schwartz goes on to classify these roles into character roles and
    achievement roles. Character roles would include words such as
    “young”, “charming”, “intelligent”, “progressive” and “informed”.

    Returning to the car purchase example, many luxury cars have
    more capability than can be legally used on normal city streets
    and highways. The ability to go 200 mph may never be used, but
    it gives the owner the title of “successful”.

    This is the same reason why some people would never shop in a
    discount store even if it carries the exact brand of a more
    upscale store. They are afraid that people would identify them
    as “low class” or “poor” when seen in such places.

    Achievement roles would include such terms as “executive”,
    “college graduate”, “home owner”, “good mother”, “community
    leader” and “career woman”. There is no way that these
    achievements can be seen from just looking at someone
    which makes them more likely to be displayed. For example,
    it is very common to see women of accomplishment, such
    as politicians and CEOs, wearing pearl necklaces with matching
    earrings. This almost always says, “I’m a woman of no small
    means and status.”

    Americans are more likely to own a garage full of stuff that they
    would never use again than residents of a third world country.
    This is the way that they express their achievements by the
    things they own. Possessions now have a meta-purpose that
    go far above function and may not even be related to their function,
    except to define how the possessor stands out from the crowd
    .

    How the copywriter uses this fact of human psychology would
    determine to a great extent the success of the sales message. To
    simply write about the problems the product solves and the
    function the product would perform would be to fail to tap into
    the ulterior motivation for buying—that of status and defined
    achievement which owning the product implies. This fact applies
    most sharply to a crowded market where the only difference
    between your product and that of your competitor may be the role
    your product offers the buyer.

    What does it mean to own your product apart from what it does?
    How would his peers look at him now he owns your product?
    What does it say about your customer’s taste, achievement,
    status and character by owning your product?

    These are all questions that the copywriter must answer in his
    copy and thus create a particular role for your prospect in the
    advertisement.

    One caveat though as you seek to highlight this role is that you
    must be careful not to invent a role that is foreign to the
    product.
    Products would have a role that comes through their
    function, a history of their use and often from the very role
    that the customer gives to them.

    For example, if your product was the first in the marketplace
    then you may have the advantage of saying that the product is the
    most reliable and others are trying to copy the “genuine”. But
    it’s a stretch to say that people would think you more successful
    if you brushed with a certain toothpaste because no one can
    determine by just looking what toothpaste you use.

    In essence there are many product that already have a ‘built-in’
    appeal to them such a luxury car, diamond-studded watch and
    exotic vacations. But for most products the copywriter has to
    build on a shallow foundation and make a sturdy prestige
    sculpture. Building in this foundation takes a creativity and
    inventiveness that cannot stray too far from the idea the
    prospect already has about the product in his mind.

    In summary, people buy products to solve problems and
    which make them look good while solving them.

    -Ray Edwards
  • Profile picture of the author shawnlebrun
    Credibility and proof.

    does the prospect believe that what you're
    selling will truly solve their problem or meet their need.

    without believing it will work, no sale will happen.
  • Profile picture of the author JasonParker
    That's easy: BELIEF
  • Profile picture of the author Steve The Copywriter
    It's been said and indicated several times.

    A preponderance of proof that your product or service does do what you promised it would.


    Steve
  • Profile picture of the author TheOcarlsen
    I think John Forde wrapped it up nicely when he said:

    "Getting to be the hero of your own story".

    Meaning to feel the reward of associating yourself with success, money, growth etc. Not necessarily to do anything about it afterwards.

    "I am now the type of person that..."
  • Profile picture of the author SpankinNewbie
    Perceived Risk vs. Potential Reward.

    I don't think there is a definitive answer but I do believe the tipping point occurs when the potential reward exceeds the perceived risks.

    So I think trust, price, scarcity, etc. all come into play to build reward and reduce risk.
  • Profile picture of the author eugenedm
    USP or Unique Selling Proposition is possibly one of the most influential points out there that can change your prospect’s buying decisions and make them your CUSTOMERS.

    Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”

    Here are examples of products with a USP:
    1. Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
    2. Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
    3. FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
    4. M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
    5. Metropolitan Life: “Get Met, It Pays”

    Give people results. Give them what they need right now. Be very straightforward with people.

    Find what urges and frustrations they have. They will be the motivators for your prospect to buy your product.
    • Profile picture of the author verial
      Originally Posted by eugenedm View Post

      USP or Unique Selling Proposition is possibly one of the most influential points out there that can change your prospect’s buying decisions and make them your CUSTOMERS.

      Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Not just words, not just product puffery, not just show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”

      Here are examples of products with a USP:
      1. Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
      2. Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less — or it’s free.”
      3. FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight”
      4. M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”
      5. Metropolitan Life: “Get Met, It Pays”

      Give people results. Give them what they need right now. Be very straightforward with people.

      Find what urges and frustrations they have. They will be the motivators for your prospect to buy your product.
      I still don't understand why copywriters hail M&M's USP as a prime example.

      I mean, is the M&M trying to solve a common problem?

      What kind of person holds candy in their hand long enough to melt.

      And besides, I've help M&Ms in my hand for a couple minutes as a kid. The outer shell melted in my hand. That's false advertising!

      How about this instead:

      M&Ms: "You will buy us because we entered the market early and you don't have many other choices. Besides, we spam our advertisements everywhere, and familiarity sells."
  • Profile picture of the author sambel
    CURIOSITY

    People willing to pay thousands for something that make them curios :p

    just check out the wso section.. look for the wsotd.. the sales letter must be something that make people curios..

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