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Understanding the Difference Between “Want” and “Want to Buy”

This guest post is by Ryan Barton of The Smart Marketing Blog.

As I was sitting at a café over breakfast, the couple nearby flipped through their Sunday paper. As I tend to do, I eavesdropped on their conversation.

“Will you look at that bedding? That’s wonderful!” “Oh my God, I’d die for those shoes.” “I love that movie, and it’s on sale!”

Aside from my habitual eavesdropping problem, the conversation’s simplification of the “want” impulse is vital to your online success.

Buying versus browsing

There’s a significant, actionable difference between admiration and buying intent.

The first is an attraction, a respect, a good feeling. “That car has beautiful lines.” “Wow, a front-facing camera and it supports Flash?” But regardless of all those positive thoughts, admiration lacks a fulfilled need.

The second says, “not only do I admire this service or product, but it’s exactly what I’m looking for.” “My New Year’s resolution was to focus on marketing, so this is perfect!” The product satisfies a real need—not a flighty want.

Earlier this year, Lemon and Raspberry subscribers said they’d absolutely love to win my ebook, Smart Marketing, during Amy‘s New Year’s blog party.

“Ooooh I’d LOVE to win this! I’m always up for some good marketing insight!!,” said one reader. Another agreed, “I would love to read this book. Maybe I can count it as one of the many books I resolve to read this year.”

That’s flattering; really, lots of kind words. Yet, after the contest ended and the book was awarded, some readers suddenly didn’t want the book; or, more accurately, they didn’t want to pay for it.

This is the “want” gap in action—the difference between liking a product and actually wanting to pay for it.

The “want” gap

Amy’s readers may have liked the idea of reading my book, but they didn’t realize a present need for it. It’s a great idea, and it’d be a nice addition to a library, but there wasn’t enough of an internal need to get them to pull out their wallets.

We see the same principle, but to a greater extent, with larger giveaways. Sure, I’ll take the car, the free cruise, the year’s supply of coffee—but I’m not going to pay for it.

Image by Austin Kleon

Friend and artist John T. Unger experienced something similar with a book of poetry he wrote; the “want” gap was later brilliantly illustrated by Austin Kleon.

John’s poems had a real, emotional impact on a reader; the reader admired the author. Yet all the admiration in the world couldn’t compete with the prospect’s lack of buying intent.

Asking the right question

Businesses tend to forecast and allocate advertising monies based on consumer feedback, which is unfortunately more “do you like?” than “will you buy?”

That’s what focus groups have become, haven’t they?

“Do you like this new and improved artisan sandwich? How ‘bout this car? Pretty isn’t it? Would you go on vacation with this airline?”

None of those questions ask, “would you buy?” And that’s the question that makes or breaks most launches.

Understanding this gap and how you can bridge it is your way to converting admiring prospects into paying, satisfied, and loyal customers.

How to bridge the “want” gap and boost sales

What you may not realize is that admiration is a big step forward in closing the sale. The prospect has already indicated they appreciate you and your product, but they don’t think they need it. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck; you can fix this.

Here are five steps I use to effectively bridge the gap between admiration and convincing a prospect to buy.

1. Establish your authority

Chances are, before reading this article, you’d never heard my name. If you’re launching a product of your own, you may face the same challenge—obscurity.

If I had released my ebook under Darren’s name instead of my own, the sales would’ve been drastically different than my initial figures. Darren’s an established figure in the industry. Over 167,000 subscribers and 19,000 Facebook fans are testament to this. His community buys into his history of success. My own success isn’t global like Darren’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as relevant.

That’s why the endorsement of Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author, Scott McKain, was so powerful. Scott had a lot ofkind words about my book—and his review told new prospects my book wasn’t a scam, it was real and unique, and they needed it.

That’s the power of word-of-mouth marketing. But it’s leveraging these words that helps you confirm legitimacy and close the sale.

2. Create value

It’s pompous to assume that because you have a product, it’ll be bought. Give prospects a reason to buy. What’s in it for them? Show them value and security in their purchase.

For my own book campaign, my value offering included free quarterly updates. Every quarter, I send my customers an updated digital file that highlights new industry trends and developments. This makes my ebook a living book—it doesn’t gather digital dust, it’s a constant resource.

Plus, it maintains my personal brand awareness among my clientele in a most personal manner.

I also went so far as to include a 100% results-and-satisfaction guarantee with every purchase. Yes, I’m that confident in my content. It works, so why wouldn’t I offer a guarantee?

And as for the prospect, why wouldn’t they buy? There’s absolutely zero risk in making the purchase. If they were apprehensive or worried they’d get burnt, this guarantee eliminates those fears. What’s more, I’ve never had a request for a refund—it’s a guarantee I’ve never been called on.

What type of value-added element can you include in your launch that convinces your prospect that they can’t afford to not buy from you? Can you offer a limited-time price reduction to create a sense of urgency? Or a creative incentive to reward multiple purchases?

3. Put their needs in lights

You launched your product for a reason: you recognized a demand, a need. So don’t be ashamed to tell your audience that you know it. Speak directly to them.

In my case, that meant telling small business owners and first-time entrepreneurs that I understand the daunting challenge they face in marketing themselves. What’s an effective strategy? What offers the greatest ROI? I know the thought of their business failing keeps them up at night. Moreover, I understand that heavy feeling—I’ve been there. And it’s difficult to navigate through new business decisions.

But simply telling prospects you understand their need isn’t enough. You also need to satisfy it. Which brings us to your solution. In my case, I hold the marketing road map to their success.

4. Spell out your solution

For my small business owner audience, it wasn’t enough to say, “Don’t worry about your business failing, I wrote a book on marketing.”

I needed to take a step back and detail the topics I’d covered—targeted marketing, brand differentiation, social media ethics, blogging, and so on—and explain how each topic plays into their success.

Andy Nulman uses the analogy of “virgin contact lenses” as a great way to remove yourself from something you’re deep into, to gain valuable perspective. You, yourself, are in-the-know. You understand what you offer, since you’re the product creator. But for the first-time prospect, you need to say exactly what you do. Assume nothing on their part. Look at your product the way a first-time prospect would, taking nothing for granted.

You’ve highlighted their need, and you’ve detailed exactly what you’re providing. Now, explicitly tell your prospects with confidence, “I am the solution. My product will fix your problem.”

5. Show them what others have

You’re at the mall; you’re hungry. You walk towards the food court, and as you get closer, you begin to smell the variety of foods. “What do I want? What am I in the mood for?” you ask yourself.

And as you arrive at the food court entrance, before you stand 15 different restaurant choices, people with trays of food rushing to and from tables. Your gaze moves across the large room, scanning the signs and lines of each of the restaurant choices. Asian food? Not bad. Pizza place: ghost town. Sandwiches … not really in the mood. But the burger joint is hoppin’.

Without saying a word, every person in each line is telling you their preference—the majority favored the burger over the pizza. And that makes you wonder, what is it about the burger that everybody loves so much? You don’t want to miss out on what the people in the burger line are enjoying. Now, your decision is made: burger it is.

In the digital food court, it’s similar; it’s the online equivalent of, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Show prospects how much your customer base supports you. Show them you’re popular, show them what other customers are buying and how they’re benefiting from it, and force the inactive community to buy in and be part of the “next big thing.”

The hype, the tangible energy in your community, your popularity—they’re all extremely powerful selling tools.

What people want

Your blog, your business, your campaign, your new product—should be less about what you think people want, and more about what your prospects will actually act on. Want to be profitable? Then that’s your focus: what people want.

Save yourself time and money. Understanding this “want” gap and bridging it—conquering it—improves your conversion rate, it motivates you through your new-found success, and it takes your efforts to a competing level.

How have you experienced the “want” gap in your blogging efforts? And how have you bridged it?

Ryan Barton is the author of the “Smart Marketing” eBook and he writes at The Smart Marketing Blog for Small Business Success; you can follow him on Twitter, where he shares entirely too much information. He wrote “Smart Marketing” with the intent that small businesses would glean insightful information and tangible marketing strategies so they too, could compete competitively with industry giants.

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Comments

  1. I like to call this: “Put your money where your mouth is!”. A perennial problem for artists.

  2. Nice Comic Strip, pretty much sums up the entire post.

  3. Christiaan says:

    Great post Ryan! The gap between wanting and willingness to pay. An interesting perspective actually. “What’s so special” and “Not wanting to be left out” are powerful forces when it comes to persuading people. But persuasion has a negative connotation. I like the “want” vs “would you buy” in particular, a good question to ask yourself.

    When it comes to information products, just about everything you’d ever want to know can be had for free online somewhere. (Though not always completely legal). But most people don’t want to do all the research, they want a one-stop solution, and yes, some are even willing to pay for the solution if the problem is big enough.

    It’s getting the foot in the door that’s actually the hard bit as far as my experience goes. Even after more than a year of blogging, it’s hard to come by traffic. It’s not that there is no interest in “my niche”, it’s the name that you need to build. So my question to you is, how would you go by becoming an authority if you don’t have a big name backing you up? (Like Darren in this case)

  4. That was a great post with great ideas and info in it. Thanks for posting it.
    I don’t have much of a marketing mind, so I appreciate the help. :)

  5. Mike Lopez says:

    I’ve heard many people saying this – “I want to be rich but only if it’s for free.” And guess what, those people never became rich until now.

  6. Mike,

    I think you comment is spot on. You are right most people aren’t willing to work hard at all. Bu success demands work. Nothing is handed over to you. You have to really want it.

    Ryan, thanks for a great article!

    Krizia

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Krizia!

      I think it’s important to note that hard work is good and well — but working efficiently, with a plan is key.

  7. That comic strip resonates with me all too well as someone who writes fiction. At the end of the day, fiction will always be a want. My nonfiction work may be able to help people change something in their life they don’t like, but my fiction can only entertain.

    At least I can show people the need for part of what I do… :)

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Hi Jen — thanks for your comment.

      I agree, fiction writing isn’t necessarily something that is a “need,” but there’s certainly a need to escape — from work, family, etc.

      People seek different roads to escape, fiction being just one way.

      • Escape is not the only thing. As a photographer reading fiction is a great way to learn story telling, how author describes everything in words helps me see it through the lens =)

      • Jean says:

        Jen, don’t assume that fiction is less valuable than non-fiction. True, non-fiction educates, illuminates and offers resources. But many non-fiction works, especially about marketing, are often similar in content — what works is that a particular author might have the exact right wording that speaks to *you* and makes you say “aha!”, or provides a level of content that addresses your needs now.

        Your fiction is unique and from your heart. Many people are just as likely to pay for fiction as non-fiction. :)

      • Jean says:

        Jen, don’t assume that fiction is less valuable than non-fiction. True, non-fiction educates, illuminates and offers resources. But many non-fiction works, especially about marketing, are often similar in content — what works is that a particular author might have the exact right wording that speaks to *you* and makes you say “aha!”, or provides a level of content that addresses your needs now.

        Your fiction is unique and from your heart. Many people are just as likely to pay for fiction as non-fiction. :)

      • Jean says:

        And btw this article does speak to me. Definitely an “aha!”

  8. One thing I would like to mention about focus groups is that when put in a spotlight, people tend to give you the answers they think you want to hear. Not always, but that’s the problem with a focus group. They don’t represent general public. “Would you buy this book?” you might ask. “Ummm, sure,” they reply nervously.

    Also, I would highly recommend people would read Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to win friends and influence people.” It’s a classic for a reason, great book. Sales person or not, read it and use principals in that book to take your relationships to a whole new level.

    Establish trust through relationships (people trust Darren) and they will have no problem buying their products. I love work that Darren does, I’ve read his ebooks and I’ve taken his courses. They are great, not only because they are valuable to me but because I trust Darren to offer nothing short of quality content.

    Good post Ryan, will check out your blog =)

  9. Nancy says:

    Great article Ryan! I think another reason that Darren has such a great conversion rate is that he spends lots of time giving away valuable information for free, so when he offers something that someone has to pay for, they’re more than happy to make the investment in the additional information. That’s exactly what you’re doing here. Bravo! Thanks for the insights.

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Thanks for reading Nancy!

      And you’re right, a willingness to give prospects constructive (and tempting) feedback and consult is a great way to illustrate your value as a business.

      Thanks again!

  10. I love Austin’s cartoon of my story— but what it doesn’t tell you is that the story had a happy ending. After fifteen years of writing, I switched to visual art and now have a thriving business selling high end sculpture online. The writing wasn’t wasted time by any means… it provided the analytical skills necessary to make viable art and also has served me well in writing copy for the artwork.

    The idea that stories sell has become a hot topic lately in marketing circles but it has certainly worked well for me.

  11. Dana says:

    I think that why many marketing gurus said that the “buy” words is a big no. I think when we uses the strong word buy (while we do not have enough reputation), people will think they are forced. And no body likes to be forced.

  12. I really like this article and i have written about it aswell. This is more about product creation rather than product marketing though which is a new topic for me and definitely something i need to learn about. Product launchs are one of the best ways to make money online and i need to get in on that action :)

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Hi John – can you expand on your comment about product creation versus product marketing? Thanks for reading!

  13. Dipesh Patel says:

    Right question and suitable solution is the key for buyers to buy. The buyer is going to judge the response that they listen to, everything else comes 2nd.

    Thanks
    Dipesh Patel

  14. Jane says:

    Ya the comic exactly says the mindset of people who just ‘want’. Such people are really hard to get convinced. Your tips are great to bridge the gap. Thanks for the nice article.

    Jane.

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Thanks Jane! I think the hardest part is stopping to recognize the different type of prospect. Too many times we get caught up in the simple ‘no’ response to realize how we need to market differently to one person over another.

  15. Amusing, ironic and misleading.
    Isolation of that one word, “Want,” enables an infinite means for a blogger to demean it. Yet, top sales producers know that “Want” has a powerful meaning in the semantics of potential buyers.

    “Want,” when used in a “prospecting offer,” enables the salesperson to determine with whom to spend their time and resources.
    Example: “This machine can reduce your raw materials costs by 20% and it costs $130,000. Is that what you want?”

    It is called an offer because it elicits a commitment of either “Yes,” or “No.”

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Jacques, thanks for your comment.

      I agree that the “want” impulse is powerful; I noted something similar in the article that admiration is a giant step forward in converting a prospect to a customer.

      In your example, there are two possible “yes” or “no” responses.

      Yes, I want to reduce raw materials, but no, I’m not willing to put out $130k for it.

      As I’m sure you’ll agree, the ideal response is two “yes” responses. And that’s where the sales producer relies on the pairing of effective marketing of the solution to close the deal.

      But even still, don’t you think it’s better to avoid the yes or no question in favor of a choice — would you rather have A or B? The yes/no alternatives tend to be a conversation killer.

      Thanks again for your feedback!

  16. Angela May says:

    The comic strip above inspired me to share some experience from the world of webcomics. Like poetry and blogs, webcomics share most of their work for free online. One of the best ways to monetize is the creation of collections (as opposed to instruction-type ebooks). Some key things that help the sale…

    - The Value Add – readers are very aware that they have already received the content in the collection for free. They don’t want to pay for an experience they have already had… nor should they. Adding extra material that is NOT on the website helps a lot… an additional short story, more comics, bonus behind-the-scenes material… whatever you can do to enhance the product in terms of content. Something new for them to experience once they get it.

    - The Collectible Quality – again, the reader DOES NOT want to pay for a dead-tree version of what they can get online for free. What they seem to be looking for is more like a memento of the experience that they have had with the website. The shared time with the author. Something beautiful they can show their friends. My friends have produced some very handsome books with great results… hardcover, foil lettering, hand bound, custom sketch inside… these little details go a very long way.

    I put a lot of heart and soul into my first collection, I tried to make the book its own experience above and beyond the source material, with a lot of behind-the-scenes material and tidbits that only fans would pick up. The hard work was well worth it, the readers love the book :)

    Overall, the reader does seem to be looking for ways to support their favourite sites… which is great. It is our challenge to craft something that is genuinely worth their money, independent of the blog.

    Great post, very real barrier to overcome.

  17. Elton Sites says:

    The comic strip says it all. No need further explaining! LOL But good job on including that comic strip. It added more meaning to the post and it really intensified the argument of the post.

  18. Lisa says:

    I sold books door to door one summer. Made a few grand, too. One thing I learned was not to say, “Do you want some books,” but rather, “Which ones would you like to get today,” or some other appropriate assumption of sale. I think this could be applied to blogging.

    • Ryan Barton says:

      That’s a great example Lisa. I received similar parenting advice — instead of “do you want to go to bed?” it became “do you want to go to bed now, or in 15 minutes?”

      Changing the question from yes and no to more of an action is key.

  19. Let’s assume that the diagnosis piece of this process between seller and buyer is completed and the seller has the appropriate solution for the buyer with the exception of one variable: selling price.

    Would any of us be willing to adjust that critical component for the service/product?

    What happens when providers begin to negotiate selling price to close the gap between want and want to buy?

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Hi Marbey — I think you need to tread lightly on anything price-related.

      When you negotiate price (down), you’re basically admitting that you’re not worth the original asking price, and suddenly you’re competing in a price war — rather based on your product, its value, customer service, etc.

      Instead of focusing on the price motivator, I believe there needs to be more focus on product differentiation — stand out in the competition market rather than fade away into a price battle.

  20. Stuart says:

    My word, I’ve been there before!

    “Wow, that was an amazing story, I’d love to have that!”

    “Really? You can have it for £5.”

    “Na, I’ll pass, thanks.”

    Apart from the fact I’m English and I use the pound sterling, the predicament is the same. My writing is that kind of good which is so good, people don’t want to buy it. Strange.

    I’ve learned a lot from this read, including ‘virgin contact lenses’, nice! But ultimately, it’s about finding a problem, and being the solution. If you want others to buy, they must want to buy.

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Hi Stuart — thanks for your comment!

      Sometimes removing yourself from the situation (that you’re already so familiar with) with help you identify a problem that you might not have seen in the first place.

      Thanks for reading!

  21. Seth says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I’ve got a question. I’ve just launched a new product on my blog and I really want someone with authority to help establish the product’s quality within my niche. I’ve got four individuals that I would love to have say something nice about my product publicly. Three of these individuals I have a rapport with, and one I do not. I intend to send each one of these four individuals my product for free. My question is what else should I do? Should I ask them to say something nice about the product publicly? Should I just send them a free product in the mail and say “thanks for your influence on my life?” I want to be tactful but also productive. How did you get Scott McKain to write what he did? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    • Ryan Barton says:

      Thanks for your question Seth.

      Quite honestly, I sent my book to Scott just to say thanks for the conversations we shared across the year. I didn’t’ request any endorsement, so his comments were a flattering surprise.

      I think you run a risk when specifically request an endorsement — what’s in it for them? You get their brand’s power behind you, but what are they receiving in return?

  22. This post really resonated with me Ryan. I’m just starting out in the business blogging world and I’m already running into the want gap.

    Thanks for a great article.

  23. This is very helpful as I am preparing my first e-book. Understanding this desire to buy will be very helpful.
    Thanks!
    Bernice
    A break from our regularly scheduled programming…

  24. Michael says:

    I’m working on implementing it now for my book.