The Catch 22 of Buying

Lesson 1

A Catch 22 is an absurd no-win situation where one is trapped by two contradictory conditions. Example: You can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience unless you get a job—it's a Catch-22.

When people land on a website, a majority (98 percent) of them are not ready to buy. Even the ones that are really interested are likely to run into this impasse. The following law explains why—in fact this is the "MISSING LINK" for most affiliate marketers and product creators:

Before making a buying decision, a potential customer needs to have tested multiple products available on the market. His experience with the products would then enable him to compare them and decide which one is the best for him. But in order to try those products, he needs to have purchased all of them first. 

Compressed into one sentence, before you decide to buy a product, you need to buy all similar products.

Let me explain this through 3 different examples that represent 3 different degrees of buyer familiarity/trust.


  1. Unfamiliar buyer: Imagine you are buying your first ever laptop or smartphone. You have no clue about the difference between the various brands (HP, Asus, Lenovo, Mac), their speed, the meaning of RAM amount, storage, CPU cores and GHz. Would 3GB RAM be sufficient to run your favorite game? Is the power supply going to break after 3 months?
    In order to make the right decision, you would need to try all available laptops for a few months, which would be extremely impractical.
  2. Full Trust: You have been using a Dell at work and you know everything about it. You know you need 8GB RAM and 2.2 GHz quad core processor, 13" monitor (10" is too small) and 1,920x1,080 resolution. You wouldn't want to switch to an HP.
  3. Partial Trust: You are familiar with Dell and you normally buy it on Amazon. You see a seller offering a refurbished Dell on eBay at an attractive price. Even though you know what you want, you are not sure if the quality will be good enough.


  1. Unfamiliar buyer: Imagine you have never eaten hot dogs or hamburgers. You don't know if you'd like a rare, medium or well done burger. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise?
    In order to make the right decision, you will need to try all different variation of burgers. This is more realistic than in the case of a laptop.
  2. Full Trust: If you have eaten tons of gyros, hamburgers or hot dogs, you already know your taste preference (mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, onions or lettuce). You also have your favorite food places and the buying decision is a no-brainer. You just go down the street to the usual place and buy it.
  3. Partial Trust: Let's say you like hamburgers with mustard, ketchup and onions, but you are out of town (or country) and you see a restaurant. Your buying decision is not that easy because you don't know if they prepare your hamburger your preferred way. Your crappiest ever cold burger may be waiting for you for a $20 price tag in an unknown restaurant. Once I went to Greece on a holiday and they refuse to put onions into the burger. For them "It's not on the menu".

Solving The Catch 22

In order to increase sales, marketing needs to solve this problem.

Many companies do a poor job explaining their products and they can only do it from a seller's point of view. Many times this is useless for a buyer, especially if more brands and more pricing plans are available.

Think about your problem of having to choose web hosting. SiteGround, BlueHost, WPX, JustHost... What's the difference? They all say pretty much the same thing and the available customer opinions are often conflicting.

How do we solve this?

If I want to buy a car, I could borrow a friend's Ford, another friend's Toyota, etc. and get an idea which one I like best.

If I am a freelancer that services website owners, I can learn about the hosting, the plugins, the themes, etc they use in the process of helping them.

Affiliate sites, done the right way, deliver value by helping the potential customer solve their Catch 22 buying problem. This is the reason why the affiliate business model works. 

Affiliate sites, unboxing videos and free trials give potentials buyers a glimpse of what it would be like to own and use the product and whether it is suitable for their needs.  

The Affiliate Site Model

Affiliate review sites exist all over the net covering an array of different categories.

The most well-known ones tend to focus on technology, laptops, cameras, tablets, smartphones etc. The aim is to create high-quality content that readers really trust.

They deliver an in-depth review, of the technology that's being featured including specs, comparison, readers reviews and more. Maybe they even tested it and tell you about their experience, saving you the potential pain of purchasing a product that just isn't for you.

Panasonic shaver review website

The Drawbacks of Traditional Websites

While you can make thousands of dollars with an affiliate website, there is a problem. 

A lead conversion study by Dean Jackson found some interesting stats about people who make contact with a company for information and what happens when they do. 

The study found the following:

  • Just over half of the people who inquire about something, will buy what they inquire about within the next 18 months. 
  • Only 15% of them will buy in the first 90 days, leaving 85% of the buyers in the "more than 90-day" category.

Let's face it: Without follow-up, your business performs like a sieve. People land, read one article and leave. A small percentage clicks your links and buys something.

It is evident that one blog post about the "Best Electric Shaver" isn't enough to bond a visitor into a longer-term relationship and you will probably lose the sale. (Low conversion rate and no audience building.)

Most business owners don’t have the patience, or a system, to follow up with leads who are not going to buy right now… and they consider the non-buyers “bad” leads, or ’tire kickers'.

The right strategy is to systematically educate your readers on how to achieve results with the product they are interested in. 

Teaching and helping them out builds trust and develops a relationship with your audience and you get repeat visits and eventually sales. Teaching is done through pre-sell and follow-up.

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