Joe Sugarman's Triggers - The National Hermits Convention

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Sat, 2007-11-17 10:33.
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Let me make a few observations that are critical to understanding this next important
psychological trigger. First, you buy from an emotional level, as you’ve already learned.

You’ve also learned that the purchaser of a product justifies that emotional purchase using logic. But here’s the unusual part.

Often the purchaser who uses logic to justify a purchase knows the exact logical
justifications for buying the product but does not realize the emotional reasons.

Why do people own Mercedes automobiles? Why do they smoke Marlboro cigarettes? Why do certain fads catch on? It is because these people subconsciously want to belong to the group of people who already own that specific product.

In the case of Marlboros, the smokers subconsciously want to join that group of smokers who have responded to the rugged western image the cigarette’s ad agency has created.

The people who buy Mercedes often want to belong to that special group of successful and affluent car owners who drive Mercedes automobiles. Do you think it’s because of the special braking or suspension system? Forget it. They’re going out and spending megabucks to buy something that’s maybe only slightly better than many other automobiles.

The other cars can take you to the same places at the same speed and yet these same people—all very intelligent—will go out and buy a Mercedes.

And the list goes on. You name a product that has an established image and I’ll show you a purchaser who, somewhere in his subconscious value system, wants to belong to the group that owns that product. Fashion, automobiles, cigarettes, gadgets, whatever the category: the consumer who buys a specific brand has been motivated to buy that brand by a desire to belong to the group of people who already own that brand. Period.

When Volvo discovered that its customer base had one of the highest educational levels of any of the car manufacturers, they publicized this fact. They then noticed that when the same survey was conducted a few years later, the percentage jumped even further. The percentage jump was caused, in my judgment, by the association new buyers wanted to make with the more educated owners—they wanted to belong to that group.

I’ve had my students say to me, “Well, what about hermits? Don’t tell me they have the desire to belong.”

My answer: they want to belong to the group of people who consider themselves hermits. There must be thousands of them. To belong to the group means you don’t necessarily have to be with anyone or be very social. And maybe the key word here is identify. The Mercedes owner wants to be identified with the class or group of people who also own Mercedes.

Owning a Rolls Royce in California in the ’70s was the ultimate status symbol. I was
amazed at how impressed people were with other people who owned one. Being a Midwest boy and not growing up on the car-conscious West Coast, it was culture shock to realize how much a Rolls meant to somebody from the West Coast. Yet the car itself was one of the most conservative and old-fashioned-looking automobiles on the road during its time.

The desire to belong to and identify with a group of people who own a specific product is one of the most powerful triggers in selling and marketing.

For example, if I knew that one of my prospects wanted to buy a certain branded product, it would first tell me psychologically what group that person wanted to belong to. I could then craft my presentation to take into account all of the emotional reasons for belonging to this other group that also corresponded to my product or service.

Let’s take that Mercedes example. The person buying a Mercedes would be somebody who might want to be treated as a wealthy person who expected quality and service. Realizing this would then allow me to offer those services, options, and perks that a wealthy person buying the car would expect as part of the purchase and as part of a wealthy person’s psychological profile.

I might expect exceptional and respectful service. Maybe a good-quality loaner car when mine was brought in for service. I might expect special free road service if anything happened to my car. I might expect to be offered other after-sale considerations that only the wealthy would expect. My gift from the salesman might be an expensive pen and pencil set instead of a cheap key chain.

Some of this is really common sense. But too often we don’t look at the core motivation for the purchase of a specific product, which could reveal a lot more about our prospect. Think of any product, magazine, service, or even location. What is the psychological profile of the person belonging to that group of people who buy the product or service or live in that location?

It will give you some great ideas on how to treat the person. And it will help you realize what would motivate your prospect to consider buying your product. These clues to the emotional appeal your product has, when matched to the clues you can get from knowing your prospect and her ownership trends, is valuable knowledge at its most basic, core psychological level.

In direct marketing, which is a very scientific field, we segment our mailing lists both
demographically and psychographically, to make the mailings more efficient and profitable.

For example, my best electronics buyer while I was selling electronics might have been somebody who subscribes to Popular Science, bought a camera recently, and flies an airplane. I can then take the lists of pilots, Popular Science subscribers, and recent camera buyers, put them all together, and determine the names that are common to all the lists.

Look how efficient this system is for targeting your prospect. Why, it’s like standing in a TV store and waiting until prospects start turning the knobs of a TV set, as I described in Chapter 6.

As a final example, I found the most ideal customers when I was selling electronic gadgets in a new catalog I started, called Gadgets. The catalog was themed throughout with a toll-free number 1-800-GADGETS and even an editorial page on the love I had for gadgets.

I even had a special graduation certificate proclaiming your achievement as a Doctor of Gizmology for anybody who fit in either of two categories, which I tongue-in-cheek listed as follows:

Category 1: You must be a graduate engineer in electrical engineering as well as a
certified multi-engine, instrument-rated pilot, plus an active amateur radio operator
along with being a serious amateur photographer. Now we realize that not everyone
qualifies, especially for all of these skills. So we’ve made our second category
somewhat easier.

Category 2: You qualify if you purchase any product from this catalog. No matter
what you buy, even if you can’t read—just ordering something makes you so qualified you wouldn’t believe it.

Pass the qualifications in either of these two categories and we will send you a
beautiful certificate. You can proudly display the certificate on your wall announcing
to the world that you have passed the rigorous qualifications necessary to earn the
title of Doctor of Gizmology, and consequently have become a registered

Almost a hundred people sent me their qualifications, which matched exactly the very strict qualifications listed in Category 1.

What I had listed in Category 1 were practically my own qualifications. Although I didn’t graduate as an electrical engineer, I did study electrical engineering for three and a half years in college until I was drafted into the Army. Other than this one fact, I met all of the other qualifications. I was an instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot, an active amateur radio operator, and a serious amateur photographer. In short, I was looking for all of those gizmologists who not only had the same tastes in gadgets that I had but who had also experienced many of the same things that I experienced in the pursuit of my love of gadgets. They indeed belonged to my group.

The desire to belong is one of the strongest psychological triggers on why people purchase specific products or services. Use it to your advantage by realizing what groups your prospect belongs to and then matching the needs and desires of your prospect with those of your product.
Trigger 17: Desire to Belong

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