Understanding The Differences Between Transactional And Relational People Will Improve Your Marketing

buy emotionally and justify rationally and how this affects your direct mail campaign

We’re going mental today.

No, I don’t mean “crazy”. We are going to look at how the left brain and right brain affect a person’s decision to buy from you based on your advertising.

First, let’s examine a much-written-about 2003 post from a fellow marketer that describes two kinds of shoppers: transactional and relational. According to his theory:

Transactional shoppers are focused on price, fear having to pay more than they “had to” and therefore appreciate a perceived deal, enjoy the shopping process, often shop around before making a decision, like to share their deals with others, and seldom give thought to future purchases. Let’s call this the “left brain” approach.

Relational shoppers are often repeat customers. They are looking “less for a product than for a store in which to buy it”, fear making a bad decision, need confidence and trust in your brand and product, and shy away from bargain shopping. Let’s call this the “right brain” approach.

Here’s the catch: At any given time – and perhaps even at the same time – your customers fall into both categories.

The truth is that we (you, me, our customers) use our whole brains to make decisions. Years of research have continually shown that people buy emotionally (right brain) and justify the purchase rationally (left brain).

It’s true that you can’t appeal to every single potential customer in your ads. But with this knowledge now fresh in your brain, you can advertise in a way that appeals to your customers’ emotions and logic. Here are a few ideas.

  • Give great consideration to how you choose prices and use them in ads. This must-read articlediscusses just how much numbers trick our minds and contribute to the rapid decision process about which products to buy. For example, the article says that advertising a price with the number nine conveys value: “Shopping is an attention game. Consumers aren’t just hunting for products. They’re hunting for clues that products are worth buying. In the number 9, the bargain-hunter/discount-gatherer corner of our brain spots a pluckable deal.
  • Draw people in with a good story. People love a good story, so give them a reason to feel connected with your brand, product, or services. Pull at their heartstrings or use humor to make it fun. Using a strong testimonial or customer quote in your ad is a powerful way to tell your story. Use compelling photos that “speak” for you by showing off your products’ bells and whistles and freeing up space in the ad. The old adage is true, a picture is worth a 1000 words.
  • Be deliberate with how you position an offer. The truth is that most people want value but they appreciate a deal. No one likes feeling cheap, nor do you want your brand to come off that way. So be mindful that your offer conveys a fair bargain and avoid these phrases.


While we are on the subject, I found this fascinating list of the reasons people buy – from filling a basic need, familiarity with your brand or product, to showing gratitude to pure indulgence. There is a ton more information out there on this subject, so I’m curious to hear tactics you’ve employed to take advantage of the right brain/left brain idea. Tell me about them in the comments section.


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David Domos developed WhyBuyFromYou.com to provide content to help small businesses develop their branding, marketing and sales systems. In the past he held key leadership positions for a fortune 500 company. That company led the market in both sales and brand awareness and David was a significant contributor to its growth. David has been on the Amazon.com best seller list in their Direct Marketing, Communications and Entrepreneurship categories. He is a student of sales, marketing, branding & small business growth, continually focusing on the reason people buy. Follow him on Twitter @WhyBuyFromYou.

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