Skip to content

Weekly Marketing Muse: “Why People Buy”

April 14, 2014

Why People Buy

By Carol Aubitz
Author & Marketing Consultant

The ultimate purpose of marketing is to get someone to buy what you’re selling. David Ogilvy, one of the legends of advertising said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

There is no accurate measure of how much money is spent each year on ads that don’t work, but most businesses freely admit at least half of their ad budgets are wasted.

To create effective advertising you must first understand why people buy. Too often ads are so busy proclaiming the greatness of the product, or trying to entertain the viewer/reader/listener, that they fail to connect with what’s important to the consumer.

Ads need to make an emotional connection. The consumer needs to be motivated and compelled to want the reward or benefit the product will give them.

There are 6 basic emotional categories of needs and desires that influence what consumers will buy. These are consistent regardless of whether you sell B-to-B, direct to consumers, through an online store, or are a non-profit.

Within each need or desire there are a variety of ways your message can be positioned to appeal to a specific niche within those categories. If you develop an advertising message that motivates two or more of these desires, you have an amazingly powerful message.

Which of these emotional desires relates to a benefit or reward that your product, service, or cause provides?

1. Financial Gain. This is the most powerful. Every consumer wants to improve his or her financial situation. There are four primary niches of financial gain as it relates to motivating people to buy. They are 1.) Obtaining more money, 2.) Saving money, 3.) The appearance of having money, and 4.) Being smart about money.

The desire for financial gain compels people to respond to a huge variety of advertising for everything from purchasing lottery tickets, to buying a new car because of 0% financing, to hiring a consultant they believe will help them make more money, to purchasing products on sale to save money, and by choosing products or services they believe will be smart investments.

It even motivates consumers in politics, convincing them to vote for the candidate they believe will be the best for them financially (which is why no candidate ever is truthful about raising taxes, which they all do but say they won’t when they’re campaigning.)

2. Feel or Look Better. In the consumer vernacular this is health and beauty. We all want to look fabulous and have great health. This is the second most powerful and it accounts for the proliferation of advertising and products that promise results.

The desire to feel or look better compels people to respond to advertising for everything from cosmetics, fashion, drugs, physicians and medical establishments, weight loss pills, equipment and programs, fitness centers, dating/matchmaking sites, foods and beverages, and success-related products/services that use appearance as part of achieving success.

Goods and services in other types of businesses can use this motivation by connecting it as a secondary benefit. For example, I marketed a gardening product for years where one of the secondary benefits in the advertising was that using this product would save on back strain because there was no lifting involved. That directly relates to feeling better.

3. Impress Others. This motivation is used most often in two ways – 1.) Name-dropping, which validates the value of a brand, and 2.) Boasting, making a decision that was smarter than someone else. People don’t buy a Rolex watch because they need to know the time. A Timex can do that for much less money. They buy the Rolex to impress others. That’s the value of the brand. When it comes to brand value, name-dropping spans all product and service categories and price points.

Boasting is used most often by consumers who think of themselves as savvy shoppers. They love deals and bargains and can’t wait to tell others about the great deals they get. It also goes beyond the bargain scenario and expands into their choice in service providers and shops where it is classic one-upmanship.

4. Reward Themselves. These consumers buy “because they deserve to have what they want.” It is the compelling reason that gets them beyond need and desire into the “buy” decision. It’s why consumers upgrade to the newest technology even though the existing technology works just fine. It can be used to motivate the full spectrum of purchasing behavior from buying a candy bar or $5 cup of coffee to going out for dinner, taking a cruise, going to a spa, joining a golf club, or buying a sports car.

Consumers love to reward themselves. It makes them feel good. The power of this motivation is best demonstrated by L’Oreal cosmetics who first used the phrase “because I’m worth it” in their marketing in 1971. At that time they had a 20% worldwide market share. Today they are the largest cosmetic company in the world.

5. Make Life Easier. When you have a service or product that eliminates work and effort you have a powerful motivator. Consumers don’t want to do things the hard way. One demonstration of this is the proliferation of products sold on direct response TV commercials for everything from slippers that mop the floor as you walk to the Shake and Take Smoothie maker.

There are many mail order catalogs with these products, including one called Make Life Easier. The current issue has 160 pages of products that solve everyday problems. This motivation also includes how easy you make it for someone to buy your product or service. Anything you can sell, do, or teach that makes life easier for the customer will get you more customers.

6. Avoid Trouble. This motivation taps into our fears. It’s the emotional reason we buy security systems. But there are fears of all types. It can be a more powerful motivator for buying medicines, cosmetics, foods, and fitness products than the desire to look good and be healthy. The two niches within this category are products and services that help consumers either 1.) Protect, or 2.) Prevent.

If it’s too late to avoid trouble, there are products and services to help us get out of trouble. Lawyers are just one professional group that wouldn’t survive if people didn’t want to avoid or get out of trouble. Think about ways your products or services can do this. The motivation of avoiding trouble works extremely well in comparison advertising.

Take a look at all of your marketing. What do your ads say? What is on your website? What is the 30-second elevator speech you recite when someone asks what you do? How do you and your employees interact with customers? Are you tapping into one of these six emotional desires? If not, look at how you can change your message so that you connect with at least one of the reasons why people buy.


For this article and more, you can find insight into marketing from the very best at!

Don’t Overlook Local Marketing to Take Your Brand Farther

March 26, 2013

Sure, there’s a lot of emphasis on online marketing to expand your brand’s reach and find customers who otherwise might not become aware that you exist. But that doesn’t mean you should downplay the importance – or the impact – of marketing locally. There are a variety of ways that you can use local marketing tactics and strategies to build awareness of your brand in your own backyard – and far beyond.

Check out this article by YFS Magazine for tips and ideas that you can put to work for your business.

Announcement On Our Open House Luncheon

February 24, 2013

SCORE Lancaster will hold an Open House Luncheon for prospective new members on Thursday, April 25 from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm at Four Seasons in Landisville. If you’re interested in volunteering to mentor small business entrepreneurs, join us! Come meet our counselors, hear about our effectiveness from several successful clients, share lunch with local community and political leaders, and learn about the requirements and expectations of SCORE membership. For more information, e-mail or call the SCORE office at 717-397-3092. 

Some Thoughts on Local Social Marketing

January 28, 2013

Monday rise and shine! It is the beginning of new week. To many of us, especially small businesses that maintain relationship with a large group of customers/partners via social media, Monday morning means scheduling new Tweets via Hootsuite, scouring for a rejuvenating article to share on Facebook, or contributing insightful comments on new articles shared by our connections on LinkedIn. The emergence of social media suddenly opens up this immense opportunity to reach out to a much larger audience just by the move of your fingers. It makes keeping in touch easier, more efficient.

Yet, somewhere in this seemingly too-good-to-be-true interconnected world, more and more people start to realize the importance of in-person interactions. On the business level, this means a return to some “traditional” forms of social marketing – namely events where the company, its partners and customers can come together and develop deeper bonds. Not only a meaningful way for people to connect at a more personal level, the beauty of those events lies in their sense of locality. If digital media allow you to reach out to audience on a national, sometimes international, scale, events tend to attract certain geographical groups. In this way, events gives you a chance to create deep relationship with the local community where they are hosted. This is crucial to small, local businesses. 

In this article, Carol Aubitz listed several ways companies can bring social marketing to a more local, intimate level. She also shared ideas about how to make those events engaging, fun, and memorable for those who attend. Certain practices such as product samplings/demonstrations, hosting contests, and linking the event with related social cause can be used to create a lasting impression on the audience.

What do you think about the importance of in-person meeting for businesses? What ideas do you have in terms of connecting with customers and partners in a personal, meaningful ways? Please share with us in the comments section.


For more information about how SCORE Lancaster can help you develop your business, please visit us here or give us a call today at  717-397-3092. We are happy to assist you on your way to greatness!

A Basic Guide to Bonding for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

December 20, 2012


I would like to introduce this week’s issue of the Guest Post Series on SCORE Lancaster’s blog contributed by Sara Aisenberg. Sit back and enjoy!

Many entrepreneurs need surety bonds before they can open a new business, and many must then renew them periodically to remain in compliance with industry regulations. As such, the term “surety bond” should be a part of every entrepreneur’s vocabulary. Unfortunately, most people don’t know much about surety bonds until they try to establish a start-up. To educate small business owners about this unique risk mitigation tool, the following guide will explore the who, what, when, where, why and how of surety bonds.

Who needs a surety bond?

Across the country, business professionals in certain industries must obtain surety bonds before they can be licensed to legally work in their respective cities and states. According to various laws enforced by government agencies in Pennsylvania, contractors, mortgage brokers, auto dealers and lottery retailers are just a few types of professions that must be bonded. To find out if you work in one of the many industries that require a surety bond, contact the local government agency that handles licensing and registration for your industry.

What is a surety bond?

A surety bond is a legally binding agreement that reinforces industry regulations and protects businesses, consumers and/or government entities from financial loss. Depending on the type of bond and how it functions, a surety bond can do the following:

  • protect consumers from fraudulent or unethical business practices performed by a company
  • protect companies from fraudulent or unethical business practices performed by an individual
  • protect government agencies from businesses and working professionals that break the law

Individuals in need of a surety bond should know that a bond legally and financially binds three parties together. The principal party purchases the bond, the obligee party requires the bond, and the surety company produces the bond. When the principal party purchases a bond, it pledges to the obligee that the job in question will be done ethically and according to the bond’s terms. The surety backs up this pledge by producing the bond.

When do I get a surety bond?

It’s always smart to seek out a reputable surety company to work with well in advance of when you need your bond. Although it’s best to apply for your surety bond prior to business licensing and registration deadlines, some surety bond providers can help customers get bonded in just 24 to 48 hours.

Contact several underwriters to find the best rate possible for your bond. When applying for most types of surety bonds, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • the state where your business will be located
  • the amount in which you need the bond
  • who is requiring the bond
  • your personal and professional financial histories
  • your credit score

Where do I submit my surety bond?

Once the bond is in your hands, you’ll need to submit it to the agency requiring it (the obligee). If you’re a contractor who needs a bond for curb and sidewalk work, for example, you’ll send your paperwork to the City of Lancaster at 120 N. Duke St., P.O. Box 1599. If the state of Pennsylvania requires you to post a surety bond, you’ll submit your bond form to the appropriate state agency.

Why do I need a surety bond?

In the same way that surety bonds protect consumers, companies and government agencies, they also help individuals build credible and ethical business reputations. If you’re a contractor, for example, being bonded tells future employers that you have a history of finishing construction jobs successfully, on time and on budget. If you’re a mortgage broker, being bonded tells your clients that you have a history of conducting business ethically and lawfully, which includes handling funds appropriately and advising clients to make smart decisions with their money. Whether you’re an MMA promoter, a grain warehouseman or a travel agent, surety bonds help consumers and your state and/or city trust you with their business.

How much will my surety bond cost?

The cost of your surety bond depends on several factors, including:

  • the type of bond
  • the amount of the bond
  • the associated risk of the bond
  • the duration of the bond term
  • your personal and professional financial credentials
  • the surety company you choose to work with

Because so many factors impact bond rates, surety bond costs can be difficult to predict. Many surety bond companies work with a number of underwriting markets, some of which specialize in nonstandard or bad credit bonds. For this reason, individuals with poor credit can often still get bonded if they work with certain surety bond producers. Depending on the bond company you choose to work with, some bond types can even be written freely without a credit check.

To ensure that you have the resources you need to get bonded as quickly and easily as possible and, therefore, start your business venture off on the right foot, account for your surety bond cost in your start-up budget. It’s always better to over budget for bonding, licensing and registration fees than to be blindsided by unexpected costs during the start-up process.

Although most business professionals aren’t initially aware of the bonding requirements for their industries, entrepreneurs should fully understand them before embarking on a new business venture.

Sara Aisenberg is a member of the educational outreach team at, which is a nationwide surety bond producer. Through her writing, Sara helps entrepreneurs and small business owners better understand bonding requirements, which helps them get their businesses up and running as smoothly as possible. Keep up with Sara on Google+.


Lesson Learn from Small Business Saturday

November 27, 2012

Congratulations small businesses across the nation for a successful Thanksgiving sales season.

American Express first started Small Business Saturday (SBS) in November 2010 to show support of the small and local business sector. Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, SBS gives small, local shops an opportunity to compete with major retailers such as Walmart and Target in one of the biggest sales seasons of the year. According to The Washington Post, Small Business Saturday 2012 attracted up to $5.5Billion revenue from supporters – or 10% of total weekend sales. President Obama has been showing support of and shopping at local stores during SBS.  This year, Mr. President reportedly bought Christmast gifts for his daughters at One More Page Books in Virginia.

Now that the hype over an eventful sales season is slowly subsiding, it is time for small business owners to ask a crucial question: What’s next? Unlike large corporations and retailers who have the resources to keep the sales momentum going strong until Christmas and beyond, smal business owners need to look beyond the glory of Small Business Saturday. After the sales are gone, how to keep customers coming back without exhausting the seasonal deals?

Carminie Gallo of Forbes shed some light on how small businesses could use Small Business Saturday as a chance to create a first-impression among customers and leave an unforgettable mark in their memory. In his article, Gallo argued that it was the atmosphere and the whole in-store experience that would distinguish small, local shops from large physical and online retailers. He cited One More Page Books as an example of an in-store experience deliberately conceived so that no online stores could replicate. This is particularly relevant at a time when tablets such as Kindle and Ipad significantly increase the popularity of digital contents and pose a threat to traditional publishing models. Gallo went on to list certain factors that made some local stores his favorite. Be it impressive interior design or unique hospitality, a unique in-store experience will stay in the memory of customers much longer than a generic shopping session at Walmart.

Now that the last orders of Cyber Monday have been made and the industry is gearing up for the next giant shopping season – Christmas, it is the perfect time for small businesses to emerge as an option worth considering among holiday gift-buyers.

Social Media Does Not Need To Be Time-Consuming With These Tools

November 1, 2012

Maintaining brand presence on social media is becoming a time-consuming task for many small businesses, especially with the rapid rise of various social media platforms and the cluttering brand messages on each platform. Online marketing company Vertical Response surveyed 500 small companies and found the following trends among small businesses:

  • Spend more time on social media, but many struggle with the added workload.
  • Focus on Facebook and Twitter, while adoption of Pinterest and Google+ remains slow.
  • Realize the value of content – but, again, time is an issue.
  • Find value in paying for social media tools.

According to the survey, 43% of small businesses spend at least 6 hours per week on social media and 1/3 of CEOs want to spend less time on social media. The most widely used channels include Facebook (90% of small businesses are on Facebook), Twitter (70%), and blog (55%). The most time-consuming task is finding &  posting content, followed by learning & education and analyzing. The least time-consuming task is responding to questions.

The following illustration lays out the details of the findings. You can find the complete survey here.

Fortunately, there are a lot of tools available to small businesses to help them use social media more efficiently. Ian Cleary, founder of Razorsocial, shares eight of his most favorite tools to manage social media in this article published on Business Grow. From finding and sharing great content to maintaining contact with influencers, these tools not only reduce the time spent on social media but also help small businesses reach out to the right community and participate in the right conversation.

In its essence, social media is similar to a large networking event. It can be overwhelming if you do not have a strategy and a purpose. However, if you know who to talk to and what you should talk about, it can be a very rewarding experience.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 299 other followers

%d bloggers like this: