Passive Marketing: How Customers Hate to Be Sold but Love to Buy

An old business saying goes "People don't like to be sold — but they love to buy." While traditional advertising still has it's place, many consumers are now conditioned to tune it out — especially if it's not personalized to their situation or the timing of the delivery is off. The modern, digital consumer is much more demanding and marketers need to take a more nuanced approach to connect with them.


Why people hate to be sold

The concept of the sleazy salesman dies hard. There is a certain resentment involved when someone has more knowledge about a situation or product and can potentially use that edge against you. As customers, we want to feel we're the ones in control and making decisions that are in our best interests rather than having someone else tell us what to do.

The same holds true for marketing. No matter how honest or well-reasoned the pitch is, at the end of the day, a prospective client still sees it as exactly that...a sales pitch. 


Why people love to buy

On the other hand, there is an intense joy involved when people add value to their lives. Finding a service or product that improves their lives and solves a nagging problem creates the sensation of satisfaction, even happiness. This bliss isn't just from huge, life-changing purchases like real estate and cars but can come from small personal indulgences as well. The more closely aligned the customer is with your brand, the more likely they are to feel emotionally engaged and confident about the value of their purchase.


How to convince the visitor to be a customer

The predicament is this: how can a marketer convince a client to buy an item rather than sell that item to him? 

Identify your customer's core problem and use that need as a springboard for your messaging. Target a specific concern that your niche demographic has and demonstrate how your product is the solution to that specific problem. Focus on the emotional elements of the problem — and how it will feel to overcome the problem with help from your product.

Of course, identifying your customer's needs takes some time and effort. You can do this by conducting interviews, reading customer reviews, or using surveys to collect feedback. As your research progresses, you will collect not only the problem customers are attempting to solve, but the language they use to describe it. That way you can start to use their own language to craft a message that will have speak to them directly. 

At the heart of inbound marketing is giving customers the joy associated with having figured out the solution (e.g. your product) for themselves and the gratification of shopping for that item.


Walking the fine line between selling and pushing

Being an adept marketer today sometimes means being decisively passive. That may sound like an oxymoron, but it is actually a targeted strategy. Rather than an aggressive push for sales, let the clients know that you have the means to make their lives better. Educate them and guide them make their own decision. By giving them the fulfillment of independence and the pleasure of being a smart consumer, you will gain their trust and patronage.