How business values dictate purchase behaviour

People and businesses do not buy on facts, they buy according to their highest values.

Words by Dave Holloway, Creative Director at BML

Consider the purchase of a mobile phone. The core uses of a mobile phone are the same on nearly every device, so why do people choose one over another? People don’t buy phone A because the statistics show the screen is 5% larger than phone B. People buy phone A because they buy into its story. Whether it’s a story about offering the best movie-watching experience, a better game-playing experience, making you a better photographer or being able to run your business more effectively on the move, they all have one unique aim – to explain how product A will improve your life compared to product B.

All buyers are different

The problem with consumers, is that they are all different. What matters most to one person, such as screen size so they can watch Netflix on the train home from work, will be a low priority for another, who may want the smallest device possible to fit in their bag on a night out.

Both customers have money to spend and both want the value for money, so how do they make their decisions? The clue lies in the term value for money.

A purchase is made because the seller is successfully able to connect the values of their business, product or service, with the values that the purchaser places the highest importance on.

Sharing values is at the heart of our society

The idea of every customer being totally unique may bring some business owners out in a cold sweat, but thankfully, lots of people share similar values. You can tell this because they get married to John instead of Bill, work at Sky instead of the BBC, support City instead of United, or join a book club instead of a heavy metal club. All these decisions are made because people prefer spending time with people who share similar priorities in life – it makes them feel comfortable and secure.

You may wonder how this translates to a B2B environment. The fact is, business decisions are heavily reliant on the connection of values. Businesses after all, are just collections of people that share a similar outlook on life. They are all prone to the same emotional reactions that influence purchasing decisions. In truth, business purchasing decision often involves far more emotion than a consumer one, because people’s jobs, reputations, financial success, sometimes even their entire livelihood rest on the outcome. Just like a consumer purchase, when you make a purchase as a business, you do so because you make a positive connection with the story you are told by the seller.

A businesses values sets a business apart

Unfortunately, many businesses have no idea how to successfully connect with their ideal customers, because they have no idea of their own internal values. A lot of business owners might think they know their values, but get them confused with generic society values such as ‘honesty’ and ‘quality’. Have you ever met a business who wouldn’t claim to offer either of those things? If you rely on the values of general society then your business becomes just another provider of products or services within your industry.

Your true values lie at the core of your institution and guide everything you do. They often embody the value set of the business owner or senior leadership team, because they are the spearhead that set the tone for the rest of the organisation.

You should believe your values 100% and they should only be relevant to you.
Yes, words might cross over between businesses, that is after all why people connect with some and not others, but the exact cocktail of words and more importantly, the reasons and motivations behind them, should be unique to you and your organisation.

Strong values create compelling stories

Because many businesses don’t understand their own values, they find it impossible to connect with any specific customer groups. This is the primary reason that so many businesses end up with marketing material that follows a similar tone to others in their industry. The only thing they can do to try and stand out is to list the features of the product or service they offer and hope people will recognise the differences between them and their competitors.

As the author Simon Sinek wrote in his brilliant book ‘Start with Why’, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. In other words, people don’t buy statistics and features, they buy the products or services that feel right.

If you want your business to connect with your highest value customers, you must start by looking inward. Only when you clearly understand why you do what, can you begin to articulate a compelling story about why it matters. When you have a great story, great results become possible.

BML offer strategic brand design services specifically designed to help businesses grow. To discuss how we can help your marketing be more effective, call Dave Holloway on 0113 388 0035 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .