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Why People Pay And Why It Matters

The dictionary will tell you that marketing is the activity that surrounds the transfer of goods, from consumer to buyer. This, for that. But we also pay with time, attention and love. And even when we pay with money, it’s rarely a ‘this, for that’ transaction, since all value is subjective.

It’s easy to fall in love with your idea, but as you do, it’s important to consider why someone will pay you with their time, attention, love or money, if you want that idea to create an impact in the world. In a world where the definition of value is changing, even big industries like music and publishing are having a hard time figuring this out.

First consider the reasons why your customers might pay you….

Taxes, basic food and shelter.

Life insurance, private school fees.

Fear of missing out
Sales, special offers, peer pressure.

Snack size, easy open, home delivery and on and on.

Perceived value
A coke at the cinema, is worth more to the popcorn eater than the coke that’s at home in the fridge.

There is no substitute. Johnny Depp, iPod, Sydney Opera House.

Conferences, clubs, concerts, events and online programs.

A shortcut
PayPal, Slimfast, Google.

It feels good
Kickstarter, charity donations, volunteering, books.

To reinforce the story they tell themselves and those around them.
Starbucks, Jimmy Choo shoes, French champagne, organic vegetables, gym membership, Fair Trade, Beats by Dr Dre.

It turns out that transactions are a transfer of emotion, which means you can’t tell a story to the right customers, unless you understand the story they want to believe.

Which story should you be telling?

Image by Jose Quinteros.

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