01 December, 2009

The Rules That Govern Human Buying Decisions Are Not Suspended Or Negated By Social Media

Important notice to so-called “marketing mavens”, “marketing experts”, “social media experts” and others who think the rules of human emotions and human decision-making have been suspended just because we have websites, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube: They haven’t. You so-called marketing geniuses out there may have more gee-whiz new tools with which to over stimulate us, annoy us and dazzle us but humans still make buying decisions the same way we always have: We may buy a Bible from a door-to-door traveling salesman or a ice cream cone from a street vendor, but humans don’t usually buy marketing services or other professional services from strangers if there is a non-stranger available to provide that service. When it comes to professional services, we prefer to buy from people with whom we have a relationship and with whom we share some mutual friends. No number of annoying Tweets or clever YouTube videos will change that.

Don’t get the marketing cart in front of the relationship horse. Yes, I may buy a pair of boots from Zappos.com even though I don’t know anybody at Zappos.com, but I won’t buy a professional service from you just because you have a nice website or because you Tweet me 20 times a day. In fact, if you annoy me and disrespect me and waste my time and become a nuisance to me I am likely to “unfollow” you, “unfriend” you and remove my LinkedIn connection to you.

Humans make decisions emotionally then justify those decisions intellectually. We buy from people we know, trust and like when possible. I don’t have to have a relationship with you to buy a cup of coffee or a car or a house from you but if I’m buying something that will entail having meetings with you, exchanging a lot of emails with you, talking to you a lot on the phone and, really, entering into an ongoing relationship with you, I’m going to have to like you.

These rules of human decision-making are not suspended because you pester me with your gee whiz new social media platforms. In fact, these gee-whiz social media platforms, if misused, cause the rules of human decision-making to actually work against you. In the age of Twitter, email and YouTube I can decide I think you’re a jerk in New York minute whereas, back in the old days, it may have taken you weeks or months to show me you’re an inconsiderate jerk.

Frankly, if a marketer doesn't have the social intelligence and the understanding of human emotions to know these things without being told, I would never trust such a person with my brand. Chances are, if you annoy me and try to sell me stuff before you have a relationship with me, you'll do that with my clients and customers making your insensitive jerk brand my brand, too.

Let’s review: Humans still make buying decisions emotionally and then justify those decisions intellectually. Humans seldom buy a “relationship” or professional service from a stranger if a non-stranger is available to provide the same service. People seldom buy professional services or relationships from people they don’t like. These rules have not been suspended by the advent of the social media age.

And I'm still more likely to buy a professional service from you if you are referred to me by someone I trust no matter how much you try to dazzle me or pester me via social media.

Use social media to start a relationship with me, not to sell me something.

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