What is a car worth to you?

Depends on many factors, right? (or, just one? Read on.)

The kid in the picture, in front of a Ferrari Enzo (MSRP Price $643,330) – may not understand the “real” value of this car.

But, to him, it’s an experience – and it came from his 1:18 Hot Wheels Series. That’s what he knows and values. More than anything else but his juice cup.

So, what makes people buy? How do they place value on what they see or hear about?

Do you buy for the experience alone? No matter what it is?

(and, how can marketers influence you online. What works better than anything today?)

One way to begin answering this question is to ask what made you buy the last 2-3 products or services? I bought a men’s suit recently. I bought a good brand, because there was history, personality, high quality and a family connection. I could have bought a $200 item, mass produced, and thrown it into a bag at Wal-mart (not sure if they have suits there, but fits my example).

I would not do it, because I would not “feel” really anything. We call this “bruk og kast” in Norwegian. (buy-and-throw-away).

In fact, I may be stamped as a “cheap-skate” by my fellow peers. That’s where the “keeping up with the Joneses” comes in. We don’t want to admit it, but we want to “show off”, or “be seen as somebody cool”.  This is nothing you should hide. Enjoy it – we all do it, at various levels. If you had a million bucks cash right now, bills paid, family taken care of, etc – what would you buy? What could really stimulate you?

Buick Corporation paid Cap Gemini Ernst & Young to ask people what made them buy their last new car. Clearly, people were influenced by more than one thing, but here are the answers:

  • Car firms always spend a lot – maybe most – of their budget on TV. Only 17% of people said that influenced their decision.
  • 26% said it was something they saw on the internet.
  • But here it gets really interesting. 48% said they were swayed by direct mail from dealers – hardly the most imaginative material you’ll ever see.
  • But that wasn’t the most effective motivator. Because 71% said they were most swayed by word of mouth. A friend suggested something to them.

Interesting… Here’s where social media coupled with experience comes in.

Enter experiential marketing.

When you arrange situations so that people can see/touch/feel your product, and then, try it out – you are creating a real connection and sales opportunity.

If the experience is good, you’ll have 3 immediate benefits:

Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina
Image via Wikipedia
  1. Existing customers  become far more loyal.
  2. Prospects will have a remarkable percentage of action – and go ahead and buy.
  3. And whichever they are, they tell their friends. Word of mouth. (WOM)

That is obvious, no?

Ask yourself what is the most cost-effective weapon in internet marketing.  Probably viral – word of mouth in cyberspace.

What is the most cost-effective weapon in direct marketing? Probably MGM – member-get-a-member, or friend get a friend – word of mouth in print.

Now – how can you create an experience for your product or service?

(Thanks for tips from a fellow marketer Drayton Bird. Check out his newsletter).


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.