Should you pay your customers to buy from you?

Person choosing between salad or burgerImagine, for a moment, that you are starving hungry. You are so hungry you cannot wait to get home and prepare a meal. Neither do you want to go to a restaurant, spend ages lingering over a menu and then waiting for the freshly prepared ingredients to be cooked. So you pop in to the nearest McDonalds and devour a Big Mac within seconds of arriving. You know it is not haute cuisine and it might not be up to your usual culinary standards, but what the heck – it stops you being hungry, instantly.

A lot of the time we need instant rewards. When you go into a real world, bricks and mortar store to buy some new shoes you try them on and if you like the design you are rewarded instantly with the pleasure of seeing them on your own feet. So you buy them; your brain has an instant “fix”. Similarly, when you want to read a new book, having it delivered instantly to your Kindle means that you are rewarded straight away. Is it any wonder that Kindle ebook sales are now outstripping hard backed book sales?

We love instant rewards; indeed, getting an immediate “fix” is a powerful human  motivator.

The problem is that for many businesses what they provide does not lead to an instant reward. Take consultancy, for instance. The customer may need to fork out thousands of pounds in advance, but not see any results from the consultancy for several months. This is why web design businesses often outsell web strategy consultancy. Web design can lead to an instant reward with the client seeing a brand new potential design sometimes within moments, when using templated systems. But strategic consultancy can take a year or so to kick in.

Similarly, think about the fitness industry. Losing weight involves a lot of effort and negative actions on the part of the obese individual and they do not get any reward for all their efforts until months, if not years, later. It’s all pain, no gain in the early stages; there is no instant reward.

This is just the kind of problem that could exist if your business provides your clients with a delayed reward. However, new research, suggests there may be a way to increase your business. Pay your customers to buy from you..!

The study found that obese individuals could be motivated to lose weight if they were paid to do so. Even a small amount, just $5 a week, provided enough of an instant reward for people to continue on the weight loss programme.

So, what “instant” rewards can you provide your customers if they do not get such a feeling when they buy from you? Could you get them to pay for consultancy month by month, but get an immediate “cash back”? Could you get them to buy your legal services but as long as they subscribe to being a customer you will pay them £10 a month for the charity of their choice?

In other words, what instant rewards can you come up with that will help you sell services and products which in themselves only have a longer-term benefit?

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