Why do people actually buy? What makes them actually make the decision to part with their hard-earned cash in exchange for something you are offering (or something you are promoting)? There are five reasons…and I share them below.

reasons why people buy online

Before you attempt to sell anything to anyone, you must know the five reasons people buy. If you don’t know these reasons, any attempt to sell anything will be futile.

Now, for purposes of this post today, I am referring to products that do not meet a basic necessity, such as:

  • Food (although the majority of food sales in our culture go well beyond necessity).
  • Shelter (well, same thing here…most of us could easily survive in a house that is 1/5 the size of the one we have).
  • Clothing (you know, because you need the latest Lebron shoes, right?)

OK, so even if you are selling food, shelter, and clothing, you can still apply these five reasons. In fact, I’ll even do so below.

RELATED POST: The #1 Reason You Suck at Selling

1. To Save Time

If a product is a time-saver, it is very attractive, especially in today’s fast-paced life.

Have you seen the boxed dinner aisle at the grocery store? It’s full of so-called “food” that’s sole purpose is to be opened, prepared, and eaten within 30 minutes.

Saving time is a reason to buy something

But what about information products?

How could this product save someone time in starting their blog or writing their book?

In order to highlight this reason, you must point out the intimidation of the task at hand. If it’s writing a book, point out that the average amount of time to write a book is X and show how the product you have can save them Y hours.

If you are promoting an affiliate offer for a product that helps people lose weight, highlight the fact that workouts are only 30 minutes per day and food prep is easy and fast.

2. To Save Money or Make Money

Using the shelter example, for instance, you might have a product that shows them how to save money on their electric bill or how to challenge a property tax assessment.

A reason why people buy is to save money

The great thing about products like this is the results are data-driven and very tangible. The average customer “saves $200 per month using this product” or the average student “makes an additional $800 from their blog each week.”

Savings and income changes can be represented by dollar figures or percentages. Both are effective.

If you are promoting someone else’s offer as an affiliate and you’ve used it, get very specific about the results. Show charts and graphs and share exact numbers about how much money it saved you or made you.

3. To Address Fears

People buy a product when it helps them overcome a fear.

My friend Wes Wages teaches online marketers how to shoot great videos. And while the techniques such as proper camera, lighting, makeup, etc. are important, they mean nothing if he doesn’t help people overcome their fear of being on camera.

Fear of being on video camera

A LOT of people have that fear and if doesn’t address it, his sales will be abysmal. He’d be missing out on a huge market of people that just need a little bit of coaching to overcome their fear.

Even a basic need industry can capitalize on this. Clothing companies do it all the time by addressing people’s fears of being “left out” or being “uncool.”

“Buy this shirt and you don’t have to worry about being unpopular” is the message. Scary effective. It works incredibly well.

4. To Feel Pleasure

Have you ever seen a fast food ad?

Pleasure as a reason to buy

The food in those commercials looks nothing at all like it does in real life. The burger is dripping, the tomatoes are bright red, and the lettuce is crisp. It’s all the work of people called “food stylists.” They make it look appealing…even pleasurable.

In reality, the burger is four minutes past overdone and two minutes from being weaponized. The tomatoes are pink and the lettuce is droopy.

But the ad…so pleasurable. (I now have a strong desire to grill out tonight…mmmmm)

This is proof that even food advertising can fit into these five reasons.

If you are promoting a product, think about how it could make someone’s life more pleasurable. Could a goal-setting course like Michael Hyatt’s 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever help you to find more fulfillment in your life? (The answer is yes.)

Or could learning a skill like copywriting reduce your stress to the point that you’ll be happier? Yep.

How would it feel to finally write that book, start that blog, launch that product?

Promising pleasure is a very effective sales technique. But pleasure does not have to be confined to the typical feels we associate with pleasure. Sometimes the act of buying itself is pleasurable.

My friend Ridgely Goldsborough once told me:

People buy because the act of buying makes them feel good about themselves. 

Simply buying a certain book makes us feel smarter (it’s true). Buying a weight loss product makes us feel healthier.

How will buying your product make a person feel?

5. It Helps Avoid Pain

The last and often the most powerful reason people buy.

Advertisement for pain relief

It’s been proven that most people have a much stronger desire to avoid pain that to feel pleasure. Think of which copy would be more effective in persuading someone to move into a bigger home:

Ready to enjoy the perks of living in a bigger home? Your own garden with lush, green grass and a playground just down the street.


Tired of living in that cramped space? Sick of feeling like trapped in that tiny apartment?

Even selling shelter requires some sales skills.

What pain could you help someone avoid when you’re promoting something?

The pain of not living up their potential?

The pain of living paycheck to paycheck?

The pain of working late nights and early mornings and missing out on family time?

The best way to find out what pain points you need address is by ASKING! That’s why all new subscribers to my email list get an email that asks them:

What is your biggest struggle with affiliate marketing?

And another that asks:

What is causing you the most stress in your business right now?

And another that asks:

What is your biggest obstacle to growing your affiliate program right now?

When you know the pain points, it’s easy to address them in your marketing.

RELATED POST: Do You Use a “Sales” Voice? If so, STOP!

The Best Way to Sell

The best sales techniques combine all of these reasons.

Consider trying to sell someone a health food that is easy to prepare. You can easily promise:

  • Time savings. “This meal only takes 5 minutes to prepare and has no cleanup.”
  • Cost savings. “This meal costs a fraction of what it cost to eat out at a nice health food restaurant.”
  • Overcome fears. “You may be afraid that your kids will never like food that’s healthy, but this is delicious.”
  • Pleasure. “It tastes oh so good!”
  • Avoidance of Pain. “And you won’t have to feel guilty because each serving only has 340 calories. You can still fit in your jeans afterwards.”

I realize those are extreme examples, but you get the idea.

It’s even more effective when you tie the reasons together, such as these reasons:

  • Time savings = more time with family (pleasure).
  • Cost savings = reducing fears of having budget problems.
  • Overcoming fears of a vaccine = avoiding pain.

And on and on.

When you tap into the reasons people buy, selling becomes (almost) easy. And definitely more profitable.

What ways have you tapped into these reasons people buy?


Text me anytime at (260) 217-4619.

Or…check out some of my free reports to help you get on the right track:

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2 thoughts on “The 5 Reasons People Buy Anything

  1. Cloris Kylie says:

    Love this, Matt. Will share it with my LinkedIn group and other contacts. In my program, Lead Generation Academy, I help people attract the right clients so that they boost their revenue (money) and create an impact (pleasure.) Plus I explain that they’ll achieve their goals much faster (time savings) and without making the painful mistakes I made (avoid pain.) And finally, I tell them they’ll avoid the biggest tragedy: that they live without having ever shared their gifts with the world (fear.)

    1. Matt McWilliams says:

      Well said Cloris (and thank you for sharing it)

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