Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Buyer's Stockholm Syndrome

'Once a customer, always a customer'. 

That's how we could summarize it, that behavioral pattern etched straight onto our brain:

The Buyer's Stockholm Syndrome, superstar of cognitive biases and thus of marketers and sales people (I'd put the  Halo Effect as close second).

Customers themselves will find a very long list of reasons why it's beneficial to stay with you. 

(So for you as marketer or sales person, 'getting a client' is even much more important for your company than you know: more often than not that client that you brought in, will repeat becoming a client many times over). 

The official name is 'post purchase rationalization'. And it refers to how we humans do our best to overlook any faults or defects in a product or service in order to justify their purchase. It's a choice-supportive bias. 

Once we have made our choice, we stick with it. We defend our Brand decision with all we've got. "It's better". "It was a great decision".

For that's e.a.s.y

The bigger the avalanche of choices, the more 'please don't make me think' becomes  online marketing rule number 1.

This is me every day after work. This is your and my brain at 6PM. 

By that time of the day we had to take between 2000 and 20.000 decisions today. Sure, most of it are decisions such as: shall I fold my arms differently, when shall I switch foot, shall I look up now or in a few seconds and, if the latter, when is the right moment? 

Really pondering about each and every decision would make us end up in a straitjacket within the hour.

So for most of the time we fly on auto-pilot, and take short cuts whenever and wherever we can. For example: we base a decision on a decision we already made once. As though that was the bizarre uniquely right one, a thunderbolt of insight from heaven, a flashlight of clarity and truth. This shampoo, that toothpaste, those dog biscuits, end off.

We are natural energy savers 

Ever wondered why we picture intellectuals as skinny? For they are. Nothing, literally nothing consumes so much energy as thinking, as actually starting to organize a real and original thought.  

And so it happens we walk into a bank and open an account there - and before we know it this is our bank for the rest of our life.

We know there must be better options, banks with more advantages or lower transaction costs, etc. But it's just so… exhausting to have to actually think and search about the very, very best solution for every single step in our life. 

So our instinct takes over. By justifying any purchase or decision after the facts. 

"Yes, yes, I know of disadvantage 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on - but it just feels so good, it's really something for me". "The contact is so good now". "It's just around the corner". "I now finally understand their system". "My dog doesn't want anything else". "It just tastes better". 

Such arguments are only meant to rescue your brain from, oh my god, having to organize all the energy and resources for yet another decision or thought or, worse, another reason for regret! 

You know when you are actually, rationally, making a decision: when you fall still.  And the whole world around you disappears. You can't keep on walking, talking, seeing, hearing… you can't do anything whatsoever, apart from collecting all the available brain cells to that one and only issue at hand. 

Half of our problems, be them personal or in our business, would be solved if we could muster that energy. To look at our patterns and snap out of them. 

(For obviously, the opposite is also true: the Sellers' Stockholm Syndrome)

It doesn't matter whether our business works or not, our marketing comes with a great ROI or not: we keep doing it the way we always did for no other reason than us being used to them.