Your customers are not motivated by advertisments.

I know we ask this question a lot, but when was the last time you bought something because of an ad? The odds are, the answer to that questions is “I don’t know,” or “never.” If that is the case, what makes you think your customers are any more motivated to purchase something because of your ads?

Not only that, but using advertising to acquire more customers is a slippery slope. Every “successful” ad cuts into your profits and keeps your business trapped in the illusion of growth. That impact on your bottom line is going to keep getting worse as more businesses compete for the same digital ad space.

“Someone else will always be willing to lose more on the first sale.”
- Steve Deckert, Head of Business Development & Co-founder,

With these facts in front of you, it’s easy to see that, advertising is an expensive way to make one sale without any guarantee that the customer will ever come back. This type of “vending machine” marketing strategy is a highly ineffective way to run your business, so what can you do instead?

The obvious antidote is to transform your marketing strategy into one that actually focuses on your customers and what they want — not what you want. In order to do that, you need to know what truly motivates them. This knowledge will arm you with the tools you need to build emotional connections with them as the foundation for your own strong brand community.

Customers are motivated by belonging

A brand community’s primary motivation to customers is the desire to belong. If you think about the brands that you really like, your connection to them usually is more than just that you like their products, but something about who they are as a brand speaks to you on an emotional level. They’ve created a brand image and a resulting community that shows the values they stand for as a business. You intrinsically feel the call to be a part of it since,  as the saying goes, “like-calls-to-like.”

Apple is by far one of the best examples of a brand that has made a sense of belonging the defining characteristic of their brand. For members of the Apple community, it’s usually not enough to have just one Apple product. Most customers have an iPhone, a Macbook, and an iPad — maybe even an Apple tattoo!

This is a direct result of how they feel about the brand these products represent. From the beginning, Apple has positioned themselves as a brand that “thinks differently.” In 1997, they launched the now-famous commercial that has been identified as one of the most inspirational promos of all time. They have been brought completely into the Apple community and are sold on every aspect of the brand’s ethos, design, and products.

This call to be a visionary stirs something in people’s hearts. The desire to make a change and do something extraordinary is nearly universal, making Apple’s brand community an easy one to forge a deep emotional connection with.

When you build emotional connections with your customers, this network is what makes outsiders desire to be part of your brand community - not because of what you make, but who you are and what values your customers stand with when they join your community. By making your community a desirable place to belong, you motivate your customers to join on an emotional level, surpassing a desire for only your products.

Customers are motivated by joy

Emotional relationships are the key to success, and joy is undoubtedly one of the most powerful emotions that motivate customers to engage with your brand community. Since everyone would rather feel happy than sad, you can increase your brand’s desirability by inspiring joy at every stage in your customer experience.

When you beat your customer’s expectations every step of the way, they’ll begin to associate your brand with the delight that comes from engaging with you.

What Really Motivates Customers - the giving keys home page Help us end homelessness key jewelry

The Giving Keys is a great example of this effect in action. Their goal as a business is to end homelessness, something they work towards by employing individuals that are transitioning out of homelessness to make their jewelry. Being a cause that I care a lot about, I couldn’t help but want to connect with their brand, even before I purchased from them.

When you purchase from the Giving Keys, you don’t only get the retail-therapy form of joy from buying nice jewelry. You also experience joy and warm feelings from knowing your investment in the Giving Keys community is helping make someone else’s life more fulfilling. At the end of the day, your sense of joy comes from not just what The Giving Keys make, but who they are and what values you get to align yourself with with when you join their community.

What Really Motivates Customers - the giving keys custom word reward

These factors extend to their rewards program as well. As a member of their program, you get the chance to customize your jewelry with an engraved word of your choice. Since every key-shaped jewelry piece they sell has a word engaged on it, this is a wonderful way to make every customer’s purchase feel personal and truly one-of-a-kind.

Customers will be motivated to invest in your brand when they know every experience you offer is filled with joy.

This is only one example of how powerful a rewards program can be for motivating your customers. When you offer your customers rewards that resonate with them individually, you create a joyful experience that shows them you care about what their individual needs and preferences.

Joy is one of the greatest motivators for your customers, so in order to make the most of it, follow in the Giving Keys example and provide relevant and emotionally driven rewards, and give your customers the chance to share their delight in your brand with others.

Customers are motivated by achievement

While it might not be as powerful as joy, the desire to achieve is another incredibly strong motivator to get customers invested in your brand. We all know the pride of having completed a project or overcome an obstacle, and that drive to reach a goal can be exactly what your customer is looking for.

What Really Motivates Customers - live bearded rewards banner men with beards

A brand that has absolutely nailed this idea is Live Bearded, a men’s beard and grooming product brand. Their Brotherhood Rewards program has three different VIP tiers  to continuously motivate their customers to both engage with their brand community, and purchase their beard-friendly goods.

What Really Motivates Customers - live bearded VIP tiers Rookie Pro All-Star

This structure lets their whole community know who the best of the beards are. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely want to be an All-Star rather than a Rookie. This sense of elevated social status is a major motivator, especially since there are great perks along the path to bearded glory such as early access to new products and a personal concierge service for the top tier All-Stars.

What Really Motivates Customers - live bearded earning reward points with social media birthday and reviews

These types of rewards create a valuable switching barrier that keep their customers engaged with their community, and this is a principle you can easily apply to your own! When you offer increasingly awesome incentives at each level, your members know that choosing a competitor means they’ll lose all of the progress they’ve made. After working so hard to earn it, your customers aren’t going to be willing to give up their status or points balance easily.

What Really Motivates Customers - live bearded referral program man giving note Give $5 Get 500 Beard Bucks

To round out their achievement-centric rewards program, Live Bearded also takes full advantage a referral program. That’s because they understand that their customers not only love earning something for themselves but also enjoy the feeling of pride that comes with being the one that shows their friends an awesome new brand. This desire to be a trendsetter also helps Live Bearded ensure their community grows larger — another strategy that you can also take advantage of!

With the right mix of rewards at every tier, incredible top level perks, and a valuable referral program, Live Bearded is a prime example of how to motivate your customers with achievement at every step of your customer  journey.

Motivate your customers with emotion, not advertisements

Your brand is worth getting to know, but only if you position it properly. If you’re relying on advertisements to encourage customers to explore your store, you’ve made your business into a vending machine that nobody is going to have time for.

However, if you take care to look at the things that really motivate your customers — like their desire for belonging, the positive effects of joy, and the pride of achievement — you can start building a brand community that not only forms emotional relationships with customers but also gets new ones interested,  keeping everyone engaged for a long, long time.