Why people buy

Imagine you’re Grog, a caveman.

You killed a boar and are carrying around a huge chunk of meat, but now a storm is coming and you need to find shelter for the night. You see a cave in the distance and decide to make your way there.

Now you’re outside the cave. You can hear voices coming from inside. The storm is near, so at this point, you can either

I imagine that, sometime in our ancestors’ past, someone needed to make this decision. And if they decided to offer a peace offering, they probably lasted longer. This is because they developed trust with others.

Trust, as it turns out, is a huge, recurring aspect of life. And by understanding it, we can understand why people choose to buy (or not to buy) from companies.

A guy takes a girl on a date. He brings her flowers – a thoughtful present – because he wants to show her that he’s invested. This builds trust.

In the same vein, a hooded man who approaches a woman in the middle of the night is seen as creepy. No trust is built.

Trust is the reason we have dogs. We domesticated wolves by giving them food, and in return, they offered us protection while we slept. Over time, we bred them and spread them to different continents, and now we have “man’s best friend”. We built a mutually beneficial relationship out of trust.

Trust is how we make friends. It’s how we win over others.

And it can be applied to business.

Amazon built their empire on trust. If you don’t like something, you can send it back! If your package is stolen, Amazon will send you another for free and eat the cost. Their review system even highlights the most critical review – something their competitors are too scared to do.

Another example: let’s say a regular guy designed a hat and tweeted about it. He might get a few dozen orders if the design is good.

When Elon Musk does the same thing, he can sell $700,000 worth in a few days. It’s not that people trust his fashion sense (which is, I admit, remarkably good), but rather that they trust him.

Even Kylie Jenner’s brand is built on trust. While any other makeup would work, younger girls buy Kylie’s makeup because they watch her show, they follow her on social media, they read her website… They’ve seen the results from her, and they want to be like her.

Every relationship we opt into – business or otherwise – is built on trust.

How to build trust

I like to think that everyone is worthy of being trusted.

But most of us don’t know how to show others that we deserve their trust.

Building trust is simple when you break it down:

1. Produce things of value

Trust is built by producing valuable things over time. If you’d like to be trustworthy, find an industry you enjoy and produce valuable things in it. Write. Build. Vlog. Tweet. Podcast. Create. Promote all of this and make sure it gets in front of others’ eyes.

And when I say, “produce valuable things”, I’m leaving it vague on purpose! It’s different in every situation. I’ll give a few quick examples:

Contrast this with IBM, whose corporate-speak Twitter has a whopping ~460,000 followers and they can’t even get 100 likes/retweets on some of their posts! MoonPie can pass that in seconds with half the follower count. Yes, they serve vastly different markets, but you’d be blind not to notice a lesson there.

2. Add multipliers

In addition to producing meaningful things over a long period of time, there are also multipliers to help us build trust faster. We tend to build trust more quickly with those who:

  1. look like us
  2. talk like us
  3. act like us
  4. share our interests
  5. have similar goals
  6. spend time around us
  7. spend time in our communities
  8. are people we’d like to be
  9. have helped us achieve our goals
  10. have been recommended by people we trust

Most of these are self-explanatory, but the last three are especially interesting:

Conclusion

People buy from those they trust.

Therefore, if you want to sell something, you need to first build trust.

Gain trust by producing things of value, and add multipliers to build it faster.

Once you’ve gained trust, selling will be easy.


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