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.
#copywriting #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 copyassassin
    Originally Posted by Shadowflux View Post

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


    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 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)


    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 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.

  • Profile picture of the author mrdomains

    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 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 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

    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
    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 FabianSmith
  • 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.

  • Profile picture of the author HzCy
  • 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.

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