Buying with Our Ears

You’ve likely heard it said before, “We buy with our eyes.” What does a product look like, and what kind of first impression does its physical design make on us? Does it capture our attention visually? Even when we go out to dinner, the plating and presentation can make the difference between a good meal and a great one. These are concepts that as designers and consumers we can all agree on, but here’s an exciting twist… Maybe our eyes aren’t the most powerful motivator.

Instead, maybe we buy with our ears.

What does this mean, and how does it impact our buying decisions? Here are three ways that our ears influence our purchases:

  1. Word-of-Mouth – Every day, we interact with other people who bring unique experiences into our lives. “Have you tried these new chips? They’re amazing!” “Yesterday, I had this plumber at my house, and she was great!” “We went to that new restaurant downtown last night, and the food was to-die-for!” When our friends, family, and co-workers share their experiences with us in our conversations, and we hear about their connection with the brands that fill our world, it impacts our buying habits. Those people who live in our closest circle are influencing us based on our relationships with them, and the level of trust we’ve created with them over time. That trust makes their opinions more powerful and authoritative, even if they’re not an expert on what they’re talking about. Go one step further with this and consider it through the lens of an Amazon shopping experience where you’re reading customer reviews. You may not know the reviewers, but on some level, you’re hearing their opinions and making choices based on the larger group’s product encounters.
  2. Influencers – Let’s take the word-of-mouth concept to the next level. How about the influencers who we interact with on TV or online that are sharing their opinions and experiences with us every day? Whether it’s through television, YouTube, bloggers, or social channels, we’re increasingly being guided and persuaded by media influencers. They may not be in our close circle of friends and family, and we’ll likely never meet them, but over time as we’re getting to know them virtually, they’re shaping the way we think and even make purchases through our interactions with them. They’re talking, and we’re listening. Video has increased this impact, combining visuals with audio and channeling both our eyes and our ears at the same time for the ultimate win. This is not reserved for middle school kids and famous YouTube celebs. Even conservative “grown-ups” are being influenced every day by their favorite newscasters and sports anchors.
  3. Our Own Words – Just this week, we had a client add a video to her website where she was captured on film talking about her business and why she’s passionate about it. In just a few days, that video led to new leads coming in simply because the words she used to tell her story were powerful. People heard from her, recognized her spirit and enthusiasm, and connected with her to book appointments. Because the message she was delivering was authentic and real, her personality sparkled, and she became “more comfortable to do business with.” We like to ask in our Brand Bootcamps, “Who in this room serves in a marketing role?” A hand or two will go up, and then we share this: “You all are. No matter your role in the organization, you’re a brand ambassador. At work, on the sidelines of your kids’ soccer game, on Saturday night and Sunday morning.” Our words, and the words our brands are communicating 24/7, are key.

These concepts tie nicely into our recent blog, Brand Defined, where we chatted about brand being what they say about you when you’re not in the room. What kind of conversations are people having about you, your business or organization, when you’re not around? Reputation is everything, and what your customers and prospects are hearing about you and from you, matter.

To be clear, we’re not advocating that word-of-mouth should be your primary marketing strategy. In fact, unless you have a mechanism to intentionally drive word-of-mouth referrals, it’s not a strategy at all. A strong marketing plan is still foundational to creating opportunities where people will find out about you in the first place and have experiences worth sharing. That said, combine great marketing with compelling word-of mouth-stories, and you’ll win all day.


If you believe in this concept, that people buy with their ears, then it’s time to get really intentional about the messages that are being delivered by your business or organization. First, consider your brand messages and the story you’re telling, what you’re communicating, and your marketing plan. Then, consider how your day-to-day work is impacting what people are saying when you’re not in the room and tie the two together for your own win!

If you’re focused today on improving your brand messages, but could use some help getting started, we have exactly what you need. Reach out and let’s chat…