What is product buy-in?

You need to sell, and for that you need product buy-in. Essentially, product buy-in comes down to this: what is it, what does it do, and why do I care? These are basic questions that must be easily answered with your site advertising your product, and they must be answered fast. Even today I see so many sites advertising products or services that five pages in, I still have no clue as to this basic information.

Physical product buy-in

Where can I get my hands on it? How long will it take to get? What tasks will it accomplish? Is it easy to install and use?

Think about what you are selling, even if it is a service. Is your site easy to get to? How are your SEO rankings? Do people even know it exists? Are you leveraging social media? Can I order the product easily? Does your site explain everything concisely? I recently bought a USB microphone. Believe it it not, I had to hit three stores before I found one that wasn’t a headset. There could have easily been another store that had a mic for sale that I didn’t know about. At this third store, it was the only model available, though if there were two to choose from, what would set this product apart from the others? And if it didn’t work, what were my options? These are important points you need to carry into your web presence. Do you end up sending your user through a lot of hoops to get satisfaction? Luckily, said microphone works great – more about this purchase in a few minutes.

Mental product buy in

Is it easy to use (logically)? Does it look ‘cool’? What are the features?

Again, think about this with your site. Is it easy to navigate? Do links go were expected? What emotions are you conveying? Are you selling happiness? How do people feel with the color choices you have made? There is a lot of psychology behind colors and how people react to them. think about Facebook and notice that blue color. It was also on Twitter for the longest time and similar shades are on so many other sites (Foursquare for example). Oddly enough that blue color was in the microphone packaging as well (picture below).

A note about cost

It is a common misconception that cost alone will drive product buy-in, superseding physical and mental buy in. While this is true to some degree, many times comparable (or worse, inferior) products are sold at a premium. Why?

1. People often believe an expensive item is better

We are taught there is a direct relationship between money and value. Take cars for instance. Every person reading this knows of someone who sank a ton of money into a really posh ride only to have it break down on them, while your other friend’s beater is going strong. Hell, Lexus is owned by Toyota, Acura is owned by Honda, and Infiniti is owned by Nissan. Given, the more expensive divisions have some more luxury attached, but most of the time if not all, you are buying the same car.

2. The product is marketed as a lifestyle

This is mental buy in taken to the next level. Take Apple for instance. They have a sleek, streamlined marketing campaign that sells a lifestyle. Now, before I start getting flamed about the Apple versus PC debate, please note I am not taking sides that one is better. But the fact there are users so vehemently for and against Apple proves my point. And often times a user can buy a PC from Dell and do the same things they do with their Apple for less money.

3. Money doesn’t matter

Hard to believe, but true. Sometimes someone is being reimbursed for the sale or buying a product with someone else’s money. Take a product someone needs for work – the boss tells them to make it happen and they just want to get the job done so they can get back to Facebook.

4. Convenience

I went to a club a few weeks back and was hassled for arriving in a car service. I am not sure if the tormentor drove there, got a ride, walked, or what, but the fact of the matter is in a lot of places in San Francisco, you cannot get a cab to save your life. They just aren’t around, and if you call a cab company, you very well may end up waiting upwards to thirty minutes for a ride that possibly will never come. So I dial up Uber on my iPhone and have a car within eight minutes, usually less. It is slightly more expensive but worth it. Not to mention there’s bottled water in the car and I arrive in style.

5. Time

Both examples above can be considered in a time focus as well. Often times I am impatient or I don’t realize I need something until the last minute. When I needed that microphone, I could have got one online, but didn’t have the time to wait for the shipment.

6. Personal buy-in

This one is tricky because you can’t always predict it from the consumer’s end. Sometimes our personal experiences influence how we see a product. Maybe someone got a defective product once and it soured their view of company X forever. Maybe a customer service agent someone spoke to was having a bad day and the consumer got the short end of the stick. This is why customer service is king. You have to stand behind your product, reward loyalty and fix issues that come up fast and without further inconvenience. I will share my one quirk from said microphone experience:

These hard bubble plastic containers.

I imagine these are necessary to prevent theft, but can they be a little nicer on the hands? You have to dance around the edges with a sharp pair of scissors or an X-acto knife just to get the damn product out. The next time I am out shopping for an item and I see two products contending for my dollar, I will glad pay upwards of 20 dollars not to get one that will rip my hands apart while opening it. The feelings of sharp plastic digging into my skin is not soon forgotten, especially when I pick up that plastic bubble again.

plastic offender

the plastic offender - note blue color


Think of your site and what you are selling as though it were a commodity item that anyone can pickup on any corner for less than $25. Differentiate your site and your product will bask in the afterglow.