What Motivates Your Customers?

t_newhard_kMotivation is hard to quantify. It is not a tangible thing. Motivation does not make a sound, it does not hurt when it hits you in the head, and it cannot be measured with a ruler. Motivation is just a way of describing what drives us to do things. Sometimes the thing that drives us to do things is physiological – this is what drives us to want to eat and drink. But, what drives us to exhibit consumer behavior, buying stuff, can usually be explained as motivation. So, what motivates us to buy stuff?

Motivation is complicated, however motivational theory models do exist and they can be used to predict behavior. One that I subscribe to in particular is the Expectancy Theory of Motivation.

The theory itself is a little complex and has countless uses in defining motivation. From this theory we can glean that people are motivated to do things in order to achieve outcomes based on the desirability and probability of achieving those outcomes.

In other words, a customer will be motivated to exhibit a purchasing behavior if he or she is motivated to obtain an outcome and believes the outcome to be highly desirable and the likelihood of obtaining the outcome is highly probable.

Your job as a producer becomes managing the perception of outcomes associated with the purchase of your product. Your customer decides what outcomes are highly desirable, not you, the producer. However, based upon what your product is, it is easy to narrow down what highly desirable outcomes your customers might be expecting.

For example, let’s suppose you make Italian food and sell it in a sit-down-style restaurant. What would expect your customer’s highly desired outcomes to be? As one that eats Italian food, I can tell you that I am motivated to eat Italian food because I believe two outcomes are highly desirable: a lot of good food at a reasonable price and a atmosphere favorable to any social situation.

As a producer, you need to help your prospective customers understand that their highly desirable outcomes are likely to be achieved through your product.

An Italian food restaurant could help me understand that my highly desired outcomes will be achieved at their establishment by: 1) having good food and a good atmosphere 2) communicating that they have those things through good marketing.

Customer motivation can be expanded to be very complex, however for businesses that are small to medium sized or have a simple target market, these steps can help:

  1. Define your target market through research, not hunches
  2. Define the features of your product that your target market desires (outcomes) through research, not hunches
  3. Define your marketing goals, strategy, and tactics based on data gathered from your research, not hunches.
  4. Use an integrated strategy – it may take more than a simply a website, SEO, or direct mail piece to communicate that your target market’s desired outcomes will be achieved — combine several tactics in order to execute you strategy

As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this process.