The Power Question: Why Did You Buy?

Brad O'Neill - January 31, 2010

question mark puzzle

“Why did you buy our product?”

question mark puzzleThat is THE great question that all marketing teams at B2B vendors should be asking their customers when they do surveys and outreach. It’s a simple question that is not asked often enough, but we’ve noticed that when TechValidaters ask it, they end up with some of their most powerful marketing fuel…

In fact, from a pure marketing perspective, I’d argue that all the variations of “Why Did you Buy?” are even more important than the NetPromoter customer satisfaction regimen that is incredibly popular these days.

You can ask this question multiple ways in a survey and all the answers you get are going to give you very useful information that your prospective customers all want to see very early in their purchasing process.

  1. Open-Ended: Just let your customers type an open field answer to the question, “Why did you purchase XYZ?” and you will get very detailed testimonials that are hard hitting. Some of the answers are going to be too terse, some will be too verbose, but I guarantee that a handful will be both enlightening and useful way beyond what you could have anticipated. Here is a perfect example of contextual, real world purchasing rationale that we published from an EMC customer… This is exactly the kind of data a prospective buyer wants to see from an existing customer regarding why they bought.
  2. Competitive: Ask your customers, “Why did you buy XYZ instead of  ABC?” This will elicit the authentic competitive differentiation behind the purchasing rationale. Here’s a dead simple but very powerful example from an Oracle product line called Virtual Iron that illustrates this point, and a variation of the same question strategy shown here, answered by a single user of a different product.
  3. Multiple Choice Pick: Provide your customers with a pick list of choices for purchasing rationale and allow our software to automatically stack rank the results.  This provides prospects with a wide lense view of buying behavior. These choices should be as specific as possible without alienating your target audience. Here’s a great recent example from a product group over at HP.

Once you have good evidence showing why folks are buying your product, its so much easier to use those opinions and voices to allow prospective buyers to see themselves in the mirror. This is an emotional and psychological connection that should happen early in your marketing and sales cycle, not at the end.

Knowing customer satisfaction is great, but showing the purchasing rationale of your customers to the world is an amazingly simple, effective way to market your offering.

Brad O'Neill

Brad O'Neill is President and Co-Founder of TechValidate. He brings over 15 years of experience in both enterprise and web consumer technologies to the leadership of TechValidate.

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