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The Secret Motivations that Drive Your Customers

Posted By Darren Rowse 24th of December 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

MotivationsThe following post on the motivations of customers is by Dean Rieck from Direct Creative.

Do you understand the motivations of your blog customers?

Hold on. Did I just say, “customers”? If you’re like most bloggers, you talk about “subscribers” or “traffic” or “page views.” The term “customers” may not come naturally to you.

But if you’re selling things, offering services, or even just placing ads on your blog, you’re running a business. And if you’re running a business, you DO have customers. So in order to maximize the income your blog produces, you have to understand what your customers really want

I’ve been studying customer psychology for years. And from my experience, and the experience of thousands of other businesses, I’ve compiled a list of the most powerful motivations that drive buyers.

Understand these motivations and you will understand your customers.

People want what they don’t have.

They are driven to obtain the things they want or feel they deserve, especially when others have them. In modern society, people are trained to expect more and more from their personal lives. People seek to gain:

  • Time
  • Comfort
  • Money
  • Popularity
  • Praise
  • Pride of accomplishment
  • Self-confidence
  • Security
  • Leisure
  • Fun
  • Prestige
  • Enjoyment
  • Health
  • Better appearance
  • Exclusivity
  • Ego gratification
  • Business advancement
  • Social advancement

People want to avoid losing what they have.

Just as they seek to gain what they don’t have, they also seek to avoid losing something once they have it. The potential loss of any item on the previous list is a strong motivator.

People want to avoid unpleasant things.

While they are driven to gain and keep pleasant things, there is an even stronger drive to avoid unpleasant things. People want to avoid:

  • Embarrassment
  • Offense to others
  • Domination by others
  • Loss of reputation
  • Pain
  • Criticism
  • Risk
  • Work
  • Effort
  • Discomfort
  • Worry
  • Doubt
  • Guilt
  • Boredom

People want to act in particular ways.

They usually have specific, emotional reasons for doing things even if they are not aware of those reasons. People act in order to:

  • Express their unique personality
  • Satisfy their curiosity about some subject
  • Feed their appetite for something physical, emotional, or spiritual
  • Act or appear like their heroes
  • Attract the opposite sex
  • Acquire beautiful or rare things that “say” something about them
  • Improve themselves in some way
  • Gain affection from people who are important to them
  • Be accepted into a social circle
  • Get ahead at work
  • Add beauty or elegance to their lives
  • Impress others, build and reinforce their reputation
  • Fulfill their duty
  • Enjoy themselves or just play
  • Create or accomplish something
  • Get rich or make money
  • Reward themselves for something
  • Protect themselves from harm of some kind

People want to be seen in a favorable way.

They like to think of themselves in a positive light. Plus, they are sensitive about what others think of them. So people want to be seen as:

  • Smart or savvy
  • First or best at something
  • Unique, one-of-a-kind
  • Creative, either generally or in a special area
  • Good parents
  • Efficient
  • Recognized authorities
  • Up-to-date, well-educated, or “with it”
  • Gregarious and sociable
  • Influential, able to get things done
  • Independent and individual
  • Popular, well-liked
  • Part of a group, “one of the boys”

This list can be helpful when you’re creating a selling message. However, I caution against choosing a motivation at random and grafting it onto something you’re selling.

Good products or services usually have a built-in appeal. You’ll be far more successful if you identify that natural motivation and then build your message around it, along with a strong offer.

Also, be careful about being too blatant about customer motivation. While people are driven by emotions, they like to think they are logical. Always play to the emotion of your customers while speaking to them as if they make decisions rationally.

Dean Rieck is an internationally respected copywriter and designer. For tips on copywriting, advertising, and direct marketing, sign up for Dean’s FREE Newsletter at www.DirectCreative.com , plus get a FREE 16-page report with 99 Easy Ways to Boost Your Direct Mail Response. Or drop by the Direct Creative Blog at www.DirectCreative.com/blog.

PS from Darren – a good book that picks up on some of the same themes as Dean’s post is Hot Button Marketing: Push the Emotional Buttons That Get People to Buy. It’s a good read and helped me in thinking about motivations of readers quite a bit!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Dean – some very interesting points you make!

    So, essentially what you are saying is that people want an all-natural ointment that will fight stubborn belly fat, promote hair growth, increase sex drive, and make them a champion amongst their friends?


    Happy Holidays,

  2. I write a sociopolitical blog and even though I have no intention of monetizing it since it’s not for business purposes, I still think of my readers as customers. They keep visiting and expect to read my opinions and new posts. Hence I must schedule my time well and constantly do my best to write things of interest to them. Their attention is what I value and is all I ask for.

    I provide interesting posts and they provide attention.

    Merry Christmas in advance to you all! :)

  3. A great post written on the foundation of a list of Adjectives. This could actually start a trend. ;)

    I agree with the author when he says we should look at the blog visitors as customers. But also, there are some blogs where this approach is difficult to apply.

    Most of all the Pic in this post is quite interesting…. Link Bait, Friend Bait….Customer bait….Baiting all the way….

    Merry Christmas to all!

  4. Certainly, all those points are very basic and understandable. Human nature is so simple, yet I don’t understand why others can’t grasp it. Lovely blog entry.

    I will be taking some points similar to yours from some university research I’ve done and apply that to some of my blog entries


    Justin Dupre

  5. Abhijeet Mukherjee says: 12/24/2007 at 2:05 am

    thats the general human psychology you are talking about Dean and certainly its true ….its important for marketers to understand the human psychology….nice post!!

  6. Good post. But what is an h3 motivator? Never heard of it before. I may be out of the loop *lol
    I’ll try to google it.

  7. Damn, how much you blog ^^ I tryed, but I can´t blog so much, on writing I´m not the best ;)

  8. Great post, Dean!

    Very clear and logical!

  9. Very nice article and it’s very useful for me. Thank’s

  10. I’d add: People look for the information they need. I mean experiences, opinions, facts.

  11. Somebody help me out I have no clue what h3 means. I asked somebody but they didn’t know either. I must be getting older or I missed something in the article. NOOOOOO.

    Anyway, I read a book called the color code that can amplify this posts reach. It basically state there are four personality types and behind each personality is a driving force. The primary motivators were Achievement????, Emotions, Peace and Fun. It never fails that I have to forget one of a group of four. Check on achievemnet that might be goals. It is that same idea anyway.

  12. I particular like this section “People want what they don’t have”, “People want to avoid unpleasant things” and “People want to be seen in a favorable way”.

    But the whole article was a good package. Very useful and handy.

    One can review it from time to time to take a quick look and get to know about customer behavior.

    Thank you.

  13. Darren it’s an another great post , you mentioned all the useful points, thanks – http://www.vhxn.com

  14. Hey Dean, I loved your post! People, i.e. clients, customers, subscribers, traffic, etc. are interesting creatures aren’t they? Complex but VERY simple.

    My take is that each of us is all about relationship. To ourselves and to others. We question, Am I happy with myself? Am I happy with the next person and the next? Do I care? Many people are into struggle in life. Silly isn’t it? Haven’t they ever heard of the “Easy Button”?

    I just read a great little book called “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann It’s message is simple, transform your life, transform your business. “That was easy”!

    Thanks again for the post. Keep writting, I will keep reading.

  15. These are things that everyone knows, but never really realize. I don’t even think of these things half the time. Very true though. It got the motors in my brain working again.

  16. When I’ve read this post it gives me many slight mixed feelings. By Just writing down the words here it seems like i as the customer of this blog is already affected…
    Sweet discovery :D

  17. It’s all so simple when you put it like that..heh..

    My 9-5 job is as a sales manager so I know all those things already, however applying it to my blogging endeavors is a different story all together.

    Only recently have I been treating my blog as more than an online journal and while I’ve seen a small increase in traffic it’s been nothing to ‘write home about’.

    I think this list might provide a good point of reference for setting the future direction of my blog..


  18. These are some really great tips! I think that many bloggers forget the “sales” part of the job: selling ourselves, our blogs and whatever products/services we offer.

    My blog is only a year old, so I’m just starting to get to the point where I have a regular readership. This provides me with a little bit of leverage when it comes to “selling” myself and my blog.

    Once again, another great post! Keep up the good work!

  19. sorry about the ‘h3’ stuff – I’d replaced some strong tags with h3 tags for formatting and didn’t realize that Dean had used ‘strong’ in the post itself as well – shouldn’t have replaced all. :-)

  20. This post is really helpful. It helps me zero in on terms and ideas I want to use in my marketing, as these traits apply in a big way to people buying homes. Definitely worth bookmarking for reference.

  21. “Always play with their minds.” – Empire Records (Movie)

  22. Very simple points and very basic points to be noted by every bloggers. Just understanding the human nature.


  23. I will be taking some points similar to yours from some university research I’ve done and apply that to some of my blog entries

  24. Great ideas. I would add however, that most consumers are not very clear about why they are buying or not buying. They will not be aware the you hit an emotional button. They will just respond (or not). But they will use your features/benefits to defend or justify their purchase to themselves when buyer’s remorse sets in.

    Artful copy writing blends benefits and features into emotion so well that the purchaser “doesn’t know what hit ’em”.

  25. This applies to SEO and the SERPs (search engine results pages). If there is anything SEO is about, it is figuring out how to pull these strings in the context of a search result page (oh yeah, and getting the bugger to number one!)

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