What to do when customer’s rational brain goes out the window.
The other day I overheard a conversation between two people about an upcoming weight loss journey. One of them suggested that it would be easier to loose the extra pounds if they bulked up first, thus they decided on a binge eating weekend, “this last time”.
I am no better. In order to try a minimalistic spending exercise examining whether we shop less when only using cash, I figured that I needed to… buy a wallet.
Contra productive, you ask? Perhaps. Do we care? Nah. As long as a theory “feels right” or“seems reasonable”, we go for it. Even if the reasoning is straight up idiotic and some simple math — or facts — could lead us in a different direction.
I help creators generate better ideas for a living. One thing that my clients (and I along with them) often struggle with is accepting that customers are NOT rational, objective, logical, non influenceable beings. At least not all the time. Sometimes they make their purchasing decisions based on feelings, inner dialogue, preconceived notions, limiting beliefs and on what “people like them” are doing.
They may as well think that eating themselves upp seems logical in order to speed up the results of a weight loss — perhaps because “the more there is to loose, the easier it is”. Or that they need a newly purchased wallet as a symbol for their new financially healthy lifestyle. Or they go for an option that is obviously wrong for them, but since “everyone else” is using the same thing, they might as well (I wrote another article on this particular issue). Or their inner narrative tells them that an idea is too good for them and that they don’t deserve to have nice things.
Meanwhile idea creators are obsessing about the features, pricing and communication strategies of their products and services.
So how do we tackle this illogical psychology of ideas? First step is understanding that purchase decisions are not as rational as we as idea creators would like them to be. And that we might never be able to figure out our customers to the fullest. Second, we could play on customers’ feelings and beliefs — as long as we are not being jerks about it. There is a special place in hell for those who take advantage of a negative inner dialogue to sell stuff, and in heaven for those who lift their customers up with the help of their products. One thing is sure: to relief our own idea generation stress, we need to understand that often times, the fact that someone purchases our product or service — or not — has nothing to do with the item itself.
It’s not about us. It’s almost always about them.