If you're in the business of selling things (which really everyone is), you've probably had a moment where you asked yourself exactly what it takes to get a customer to decide to make a purchase. It's one of the most common challenges facing a business. Well, now it turns out it might be simpler than you think.

Just remind them of their childhood.

At least if you're Disney, according to a new survey from GlobalWebIndex about the company's upcoming Disney Plus streaming service that launches November 12. In fact, 42 percent of the people in the survey results that I reviewed said they were inclined to sign up for the service simply because the content reminds them of their childhood. 

In a busy and chaotic world, it's hard to blame people for looking for an escape to a slightly less stressful, and hopefully happier time. But it brings up a good point: people don't always buy things based on what they need, or what they think. 

People buy things based on how they feel. 

This is actually a really important point, and one that matters even if you aren't Disney. Of course, Disney is such a huge part of a lot of people's childhoods, so perhaps there's a baked-in advantage there, but for the rest of us, we'll just have to get a little creative.

Because, even though the survey was about Disney, I think the larger principle is true no matter what you're selling and that's this: customers purchase something when they feel a personal connection to whatever it is they're buying or the brand they are buying from. 

In Disney's case, that personal connection is childhood. For your business, it's probably something different. Perhaps it's your connection to your community. 

Regardless of what it is, Disney's brand is that it reminds people of their childhood. Your brand is the way people feel about your business. Your job is to cultivate that to your advantage, and if you can remind people of a feeling they resonate with -- like childhood -- you'll help them connect personally with what is otherwise most certainly not a personal experience like a video streaming service.

People remember feelings most powerfully.

In fact, when I was a photographer years ago, I shot a lot of weddings -- which meant that most people would assume I was in the business of taking photos and selling albums and prints. That's sort of true, but in reality, I was mostly in the business of helping people remember the way they feel on their wedding day.

Every time they look through the photos, I wanted them to feel that day all over again. 

Disney Plus will house hundreds of films that most of us first experienced as children. At the time, those movies elicited wonder and amazement and transported us to a different world.

Disney is betting that customers believe watching them again will take them back to those feelings and that many of them will sign up for that reason alone. In fact, that's exactly what customers are saying they'll do.

What your customers feel.

Your customers might be different. Your business might not be about childhood, but it most certainly is about a feeling. If you're an auto mechanic, it's about the feeling of safety and reliability. If you're an insurance agent, it's a feeling of peace of mind. If you're a boutique clothing store, it's about a feeling of unique luxury and style.

Figure out what it is your customers feel about your brand, and sell to that. It might not be a reminder of their childhood, but you can count on your customers buying based on how you make them feel.

Published on: Jul 23, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.