What makes humans buy?

There are only two reasons for people to buy. Either the purchase moves them closer to pleasure or farther away from pain. Here’s how you can use pleasure and pain to sell.

What makes humans buy?

Back when no global pandemic was fucking with us, I used to moonlight as a bartender. I poured colorful cocktails for tipsy guests until 3 AM every Friday.

I adore this bar. My friends adore it, too. Whenever I work, they’re there. Whenever I don’t work, I’m there with them.

Almost one month ago, the government allowed bars to put out their chairs and tables and welcome guests in outside areas. We were all hyped up and booked a table for the exact time our bar opened.

It brings me pleasure.

After six hours, the bill came. I looked at the total, squinting my eyes with my head tilted sideways. Roughly $590. We wanted the night to last, so we hailed a cab to drive us to the friend with the coolest neighbors. And we made the night last all right.

We laid down the money in the bar because we had fun. The drinks were good, the company was good. We paid to move closer to pleasure.

It kills my pain.

But the sun also rises. How I slept on the couch would have made any yogi proud. My back hurt. My head had jackhammers running inside. The sun in my eyes felt like knives. The better the night is, the uglier the morning after.

I needed a shower and a dark room to sleep and die in.

Ibuprofen 400mg is the strongest pain pill you can buy here without a prescription (and the most expensive ones). On my walk home, I stopped at a pharmacy, bought a pack, and took a pill before I even left the store.

I laid that money down because I was in pain. Everything hurt, and I wanted it to stop hurting. I paid to get away from pain.

Your pain might be my pleasure.

There’s no other reason to buy than:

  • to move closer to pleasure.
  • to move farther away from pain.

In my story, I paid the bar for my pleasure and the pharmacy to kill my pain. But other people might buy for the opposite reason.

One might drink to drown their sorrows (move farther away from pain). Another might take painkillers to get high (move closer to pleasure).

To know why people buy your products, you need to find out what kind of people buy your products—and if you want to sell to them. No bar would prey on the alcoholics, and no pharmacy would sell to junkies.

How do you get people to buy from you?

Figure out whether you help people move closer to pleasure or farther away from pain. Maybe you help one group of clients move in one direction and another in the other direction.

As a copywriter, I can help you boost your sales with a landing page that sells. Bringing in that extra wonga is moving you closer to pleasure. I can also tell you why your current landing page doesn’t sell. Giving you a solution to that problem moves you away from the pain of not selling.

Consider two ads I could try to use to get your attention.

  • Lean back while I take your sales to the moon with a landing page that sells like witchcraft.
  • Learn the three simple things most landing pages get dead wrong that prevent them from converting.

The first appeals to your desire for pleasure. The second appeals to your fear of pain. The ad is for the same service but pushes different buttons. Test both approaches to find out what’s more effective with your audience.

If you find yourself in times of trouble when writing advertising copy, perhaps I can help with my three favorite ad frameworks.

That’s it. I’m out.