Monday, December 28, 2009

Understanding Motivation

What motivates people? Specifically, what motivates a person to donate, buy, or participate? According to Business Week, 40%+ of rebates are never submitted. Shoppers pass by dozens of products they CAN afford to buy one they can't. People gladly share videos of Susan Boyle on Facebook, while refusing to "re-tweet" a cute video of a friends child. A friend of mine offered me $5,000 if I could find him a job... and it demotivated me. So what is behind these strange behaviors? What does this mean for business?

Engineers may wonder, why care about motivation. Simple answer, if you can't motivate people to 'action'.. you'll never sell a thing!

So, how do we motivate?
One answer may lie in games. Games provide some of the purest forms of motivation I've ever seen. "Get to the next level", "Get better virtual gear", "See the next video", "Save the virtual world", or "Win". So, how can you make your customers feel like 'they won' when they have bought your product...without making it feel like a scam? Karmaback is trying to solve this.

Another answer may lie in Youtube. Why are the 'funny' and 'ridiculous' so much more popular than the average? I believe it is because of 'shock value'. If something has 'shock value' then it is noteworthy... noteworthy to your friends = notoriety with your friends. I.e. if you are the one who found the noteworthy video, and you share it with your friends, you get 'cred.'.. or levels in friend-world. How can you make your product "noteworthy" and help your customers get 'cred. in friend-world? Karmaback is trying to solve this.

Finally, my last idea comes from buying behaviour itself. When someone recommends something that I need, I'm 90% more likely to try that brand/product. E.g. when NEED matches a FRIEND/family recommendation... I get REALLY motivated. Karmaback tries to encourage this every day!

What ideas or thoughts do you have on motivation? Understanding this psychology is the key to marketing!

photo by: ERCheck


  1. I think the real truth here is that capitalism is a false motivator. People will do stuff for money, but only enough money... super over achievers aren't out making money, the money is a by product of what they perceive as their game. Karmaback makes sense as it is about pushing what you like... and that's how sales psychology actually works. The process of growing to like something is huge, we feel a sense of ownership over that good feeling and thusly repeat those feelings when we pass it on. Take music, the journey from hearing a band to loving them is the feeling we bottle up and try and pass on as fans by telling people about the band, sharing the music (or product) with them, taking friends to a show etc. Karmaback isn't about buying it's about a verifiable story created from these attachment and imprinting experiences.

    The belief that capitalism or money motivates people allows a pretty corrupt system to stay in place on the premise that we would all just grind to a halt if not for our paycheck on Friday. This mentality is contrary to all of human history, money has guided great art and science to less than noble causes on almost every occasion. While Capitalism is still the name of the game in this case, the underlying system of Karmaback relies totally on sharing our imprinting experiences with others about stuff and not the buying and selling of stuff. We al have crap in our house that was the hot cool thing at one time... but we also have products that may or may not have cost a ton or been the top new toy in 2003 but they changed our life, they didn't just do something... they made us feel. Karmaback, in my opinion is about those products.. the ones that are more than a thing in a box, but an experience that our users are dying to share.

  2. Capo. that comment just earned you 'cred' in friend-world.

    That said, I agree completely that stories are vital to the experience of life. If you can't tell a story about a product... then its a commodity.

    I once bought a black shirt with silver on it while I was in LA... loved that shirt, love the story behind it more.
    I then bought a cowboy hat in Dallas, the day of an awesome Cowboys game with friends... again, hat=ok... story=awesome.

    So, the real question is, how do we turn the experience into a story for the customer? And how do we then motivate him to share that story?


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