Crippled CEO Blog #051:
Why do people buy your product?
What makes you choose what to buy?
Chances are, you think the answer is quality, price, or maybe features.
And if this is why you think you buy, this is what you are going to focus on when trying to market and sell your offering.
However, none of those are the actual reason why we buy things.
We buy things because of the story they tell and the story we tell ourselves — both about the product and about ourselves.
Jocko Willink is a well known Navy SEAL commander. Every morning at 4:30 AM he posts a photo of his Timex Ironman watch — a rugged, no nonsense, digital time piece.
I wear a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date with a presidential bracelet and diamond hour markers. It was my dad‘s dream watch. He bought it late in his life and gave it to me a week before he died.
Jocko would never own a gold Rolex Day-Date. It would not matter if it was bulletproof, waterproof, fire proof, and shot out laser beams, he just wouldn’t do it. The features and quality do not matter. The story of that watch conflicts with the story he tells himself about who he is. Meanwhile, the story of that Timex aligns with the story he tells himself. It fits. He might tell you about the features and the quality, but those are just parts of the story. He might mention the low price tag. That is also part of the story. All of those things build toward the image he sees when he looks in the mirror. Tough, hard-working, logical, no frills.
In fact, I really would not choose this watch either. My tendency is towards something more subdued, less well known, probably on a brown crocodile leather strap. But because of the story attached to it, because it was my dad’s, I wear it anyways.
You can probably also guess what kind of vehicles Jocko DOESN’T drive. Even with just the little bit I told you about him, you already know the kinds of cars he would never consider owning. Because the stories of those cars don’t match who he is, or more specifically, who he tells himself he is.
The Omega Speedmaster is an amazing time piece. You could write a book about the movement, the case, the crystal, and so on. But if you go to their website, you will have to dig for that information. There is one main thing they want you to know about this watch: it went to the moon. It was the watch chosen by NASA to be worn by the first astronauts to ever set foot on the moon.
You are probably never going to the moon. This fact should have nothing to do with you. But they know that the story matters. When you show it to your friends, you’re probably not going to drone on about the details of the internal mechanisms, as innovative and impressive as they are. You are going to tell them that this is the same model worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin when they landed on the lunar surface. This is the chronograph they used to time their emergency landing when the equipment failed on board their ship. THAT is what you’ll tell your friends because that’s a way cooler story, you want your story to be connected to it, and so you buy that watch.
Why do people buy Tom’s Shoes? Are they nicer than other sandals? Not particularly. People buy from Tom’s Shoes because they donate one pair of shoes to a child in a third world country every time a pair is sold. People who buy Tom’s Shoes think of themselves as generous, caring, and thoughtful world citizens. And when they wear the shoes, they know that other people might recognize them and also see how kind and caring they are. The quality of the shoes barely matters because the quality isn’t part of this story. In fact, part of the story might be that the shoes aren’t even all that great, but you bought them anyways because you care that much.
If you own a business that sells a product or service, or you’re a marketer, or you do some kind of sales — pretty much if you’re involved in any part of people buying things from your company — you have to keep in mind the real reason people are buying from you. It’s easy to get caught up in your amazing features, your super low prices, or your incredible quality, but that’s not it. People are buying from you because of the story that comes with your product. And there’s going to be a story. You just have to decide if you want that story to happen on accident, if you want the customer to make it up for you, or if you want to choose it and tell it the way you want it to be told. When you know the story behind what you do, the features, the price, the marketing, and so on just falls into place.
Since you have to have a story, make sure it’s a good one.
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