Greed, Lust, And $300 Pie

What Motivates People to Buy?

Other groups of people who made lots of money during the California Gold Rush were entrepreneurs who provided something the miners needed, wanted and just HAD to have. In some cases, it was just a piece of pie. That’s right. It has been documented that one enterprising entrepreneur sold slices of pie for $10 a piece. By the standards of the 1850’s, this was outright greed. Even factoring in the cost of supplies, labor, and shipping the cost of a pie with a “fair” profit couldn’t have been more than $2 in 1848.  If you adjusted for inflation that would be like paying $300 for a slice of pie today.

So, why was someone able to charge $10 for the same slice of pie that cost 50 cents in Boston or in St Louis. The miner paid $10 for the pie because he had to have it. Do you think that things have changed much since 1850? The truth is…they haven’t. People still make buying decisions for exactly the same reasons today that they did over 100 years ago. Read that again… People make buying decisions for the same reasons they did over 100 years ago.

The first iPhone rolled out and was sold for over $600. Do you think you could have bought a cell phone with virtually the same features for a lot less than $600? Of course, you could. In fact, you could have bought a cell phone that had more features than the iPhone. But, if you were one of the people who bought an iPhone you bought it because you had to have it.  You bought it for exactly the same reason that the miner bought that pie for $10.

Gold Nugget Tip: People as a group are predictable. The psychology of marketing has been pretty thoroughly mapped and what behavioral psychology tells us is that people make the buying decision for emotional reasons almost every time.

The two main reasons people buy something is because of lust (or desire) and because of fear. The lust for something is one reason people bought the pie or the iPhone.  This is called by behavioral science the “desire for gain”. By purchasing the iPhone you are gaining the latest cool fashion in cell phones and you gain the prestige of being an innovator.  Innovators like being first to get something.

Another way to think of lust is greed. Unfortunately, that’s why get rich quick (GRQ) schemes are so successful. It’s a direct appeal to an emotion (lust or greed) that is hard for people to resist. The same emotion that drove thousands of people to participate in the gold rush is the same emotion that drives people to participate in the GRQ folly.

Gold Nugget Tip: The Get Rich Quick mentality was what drove thousands of people to the Gold Rush of 1848. And it is the reason that so many of them failed. When you have a GRQ mentality you want things to be easy, fast and done for you. Most people give up when they discover that riches don’t happen without work and perseverance.

Behavioral science tells us that “fear of loss” is another really huge factor that motivates people to buy things. Fear that someone else would eat the pie they desired drove the gold miner to buy the pie for more than he would have under normal circumstances.  For a perfect example of this look at E-bay.  Have you ever been in a bidding war on E-bay?  You get caught up in the desire to own that item at any cost. You become afraid that someone will outbid you. The next thing you know you are the proud owner of an overpriced collector’s item.

What does this have to do with Marketing?  Simple!  If you provide something that people desire, lust for and/or are afraid to do without you don’t have to sell them, persuade them or make them buy your product or service.  All you have to do is prove to them that you have what they want and they will practically beg you to sell it to them.  So stop selling and persuading and start delivering.   Of course, your product has to have true value, be delivered promptly, and you must be sure to satisfy their desire.

Gold Nugget: Appeal to the “desire for gain” or the “fear of loss” to motivate a prospect. This doesn’t mean that you have to take advantage of people. It means that you have to provide them with something they can’t do without. One way marketers use the fear of loss is by offering a product or service at a very low price for a limited time. It’s something a prospective buyer needs or wants and the emotion of “fear of loss” can be triggered by offering them a special price that expires in a short time.

Remember the last time you landed on a sales page and were told that you only had 30 minutes to buy? And that this was the only time you would be offered that price? Even if it was something you were not sure you really wanted you probably felt a twinge of a desire to grab that offer before you lost it.

In conclusion,  If you study the motivations that people have for buying and you give them what they want, must have, and cannot do without you never have to work at convincing them to buy it.

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