The Big Difference Between Getting “Buy In” and Getting Them to “Buy Now”

The big difference between getting "buy in" and getting them to "buy now"

One of the chief mistakes I see vision-driven entrepreneurs (that’s you, right?) making as they try to build businesses, market their products or services, and grow a community of loyal customers is that they confuse “buy in” and “buy now.”

Knowing the difference–and when to use each–is key and your business requires both to truly thrive.

What is “buy in?”

“Buy in” is how you engage your clients around your vision and purpose. It gives them a big picture taste of the what’s-in-it-for-me and it often points to how they are connected to other customers and community members. “Buy in” excites, motivates, and catalyzes. It brings people together. It rallies a small army to work toward a single goal.

Narratives are the stories that infuse our life with meaning. The narrative of business matters greatly, not only to the business community, but to every human being alive.
— John Mackey, Conscious Capitalism

The “buy in” for your business creates meaning and ties a community together:

  • What stories give your business meaning?
  • What ideas or mission will your customers want to buy into?
  • What vision drives you as a creator and your customers as consumers?

“Buy in” gets people on board but it won’t get them to “buy now.”

What is “buy now?”

“Buy now” is a small step that brings your customers and stakeholders closer to making your vision–the “buy in”– reality. It’s a task to be completed, a milestone achieved, a question answered. It’s the job to be done and the result of its accomplishment. It’s concrete.

“Buy now” represents a marker on the journey between the present and the promised future. It delivers stick-to-your-ribs value to an acute need. It’s not “quick fix” but it’s not so big & dreamy that your customer can’t realize why she needs it now instead of later.

It’s the “buy now” that so often my clients get stuck on. In an effort to make their businesses appear as benevolent as possible, they spend all their time and energy–and their customers’ attention–on the “buy in.” That creates amazing amounts of goodwill, a chorus of well wishes, and many pats on the back but it doesn’t create much in the way of dollars and cents.

Your “buy now” must address a real & present need, desire, or question that your customers are already thinking about:

  • What are your customers googling today?
  • What do they discuss with colleagues or friends?
  • What would they like to be easier, more convenient, less expensive, or more effective… right now?

Use “buy in” when you’re gathering people to your movement or when you’re trying to get your base excited about an idea. You might do this in blog posts, videos, or emails between launches or at the beginning of a launch cycle when you’re actively trying to garner attention.

Use “buy now” when you’re writing sales copy or calls to action. Use it in content towards the end of a launch cycle to prove your product or service can deliver results. Use it as you develop new products & services.

Your business needs a healthy dose of both “buy now” and “buy in” to get the results you want: more impact and more sales. But is it getting the most bang for its buck?