How to Understand Buyer Psychology in 5 Minutes

Are you positively flummoxed (I love that word!) trying to understand buyer psychology?

Do you think humans are infinitely complicated creatures whose irrational behavior you’ll never quite comprehend?

Fear not.

Yes, people are irrational.  No one is exempt.  You and I and the homeless guy on the corner are all irrational to some degree.

As crazy as it sounds, this irrationality is so widespread it can be organized into patterns.  Patterns so strong (regardless of race, religion, culture, etc.) that they’ve become commandments of buyer psychology.

And you only need to know 3 of them to write more persuasive ads or create more appealing products.


1.  People Don’t Like to be “Sold.”

If there’s one thing people practically universally despise, it’s high-pressure selling situations.

There’s a reason people avoid used car lots and their flamboyant salesmen.  No one wants a product or service thrust upon them.

Fortunately, “selling” doesn’t have to be sleazy.  There are ways to do it that make it not only ethical, but damn effective.

I went to the rodeo recently with my girlfriend.  When we passed through the carnival area, a carnie (circus person, circus folk?  I don’t know the “PC” term) tried to heckle me into throwing away my money on the rigged milk jug toss game.

“You didn’t bring her here to walk her to death.”  Those were his exact words.

Anyways, I shot him a dirty look and we went on our way.

Leave that carnival barker stuff for the amateurs.  If your attempts at selling feel like your last trip to the DMV, you’re doing it wrong!

Your job is to introduce your product or service in a flattering way.  It’s okay to talk it up (within reason), but if you push this too hard you’ll turn your prospect off and they’ll walk away.  After you make the introduction in an appealing way, it’s time to step aside and let your product sell itself.

Your prospect should figure out the product or service will be good for him on his own.  Which brings me to the next commandment:

2.  People Buy for Emotional Reasons!

This is where a lot of people go wrong.  They understand that people are fundamentally irrational, but they focus on cold, hard facts to sell their product.

In and of itself, this technique does nothing to sway your prospect’s opinion.  It excites them about as much as a limp dishrag does.

Even the most analytical or technically-minded prospects act on their emotions.   If you activate those emotions in your copy . . . if you tantalize your prospect with much how their life could change on an emotional level with your product in it . . . you can make as many sells as you want to.

Remember, they stop reading the moment they lose interest.  And features, specs, or technical details aren’t interesting.

Emotions are.  So hit them with those first.

3.  People Need to Justify These Emotional Decisions Using Logic . . .

If you’ve done it right up until now, your copy will have your prospect under a spell.  He has a problem, your product or service is a viable solution, and he’s thrilled about how his life could change with your help.

Then he gets to the part where you ask him to whip out his credit card and do something.

An alarm bell goes off in his mind.  He looks away from the ad and reorients himself.  He isn’t sure he can do this anymore.  He isn’t sure if he can actually go through with something that will take him out of his comfort zone.

This pause – this moment of hesitation – is inevitable with all of your prospects!  It’s an interesting thing about us humans.  We use self-observation to recognize our own irrationality . . . as it’s happening!

But that brief moment of clarity isn’t strong enough to overpower the emotional drive you’ve implanted.  Even in his rational mind, your prospect’s looking for any excuse to go through with what his emotions are already telling him to do.

So here’s where you throw in the salient features of your product.  These act as handholds for the prospect to grab onto to justify his purchase.  Weave them into your copy to ensure that the prospect can rationalize his decision to act now.

If he hesitates for a single minute – if he puts the ad aside and tells himself he’ll “get to it later” – then you’ve already lost.

Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due . . .

These 3 commandments of buyer psychology aren’t my original invention.  Kudos to Michael Masterson over at American Writers & Artists Inc. for stating them so succinctly.

I definitely recommend you grab a copy of AWAI’s Advanced Program for Six-Figure Copywriting (no affiliation) if you’re interested in more of this kind of material.

You have to give your prospect everything he needs: a pressure-free selling environment, emotional triggers, and rational justification for those triggers in a single advertisement.

Imagine a 3-legged stool.  If one of the legs is missing, it’s impossible to sit comfortably.

Keep these things in mind and your ads will put you miles ahead of your “competition.”

P.S.  Did this post give you any new insight on your quest to understand buyer psychology?  Leave me a comment and let me know!