Behind the purchase decision: A practical road map for driving growth

A book review by Tim Dell, vice president of corporate innovation at Eastman


How does “The Organic Growth Playbook: Activate High-Yield Behaviors to Achieve Extraordinary Results—Every Time” by Bernard J. Jaworski and Robert S. Lurie, Eastman vice president of strategy, insight & analytics, drive innovative thinking, leadership or strategy?

The book does a great job of communicating what actually happens in a purchase situation. We’re a company of scientists and engineers and we make great products, so we like to think the purchase decision is about making a choice between two products based on a rational comparison of the product attributes. But it’s a lot messier than that. Perceptions and beliefs about how a person sees their role, what’s important to them, and their personal definition of success or failure influence and guide their decision-making. Developing a detailed view of the customer’s buying process provides a better understanding of various things that can influence the purchase choice. Identifying the key decision makers helps to personalize the process — you can see the interactions that occur, the different influences that exist, and then identify the different situations that are more likely to influence their choice. Identifying these leverage points and choosing a key behavior to change is the best way to increase the probability of success and growth. The book provides a great framework for making key growth choices that lead to growth. Identifying key specific behaviors to change, understanding how to segment customers based on observable characteristics that predict their motivation to change, and developing value propositions that describe to the person the “what’s in it for them” to change their behavior are all described through case examples and illustrations that make the book a very effective practitioner’s tool.

What is your favorite quote and why?

This quote isn’t from the book, but it’s from Bob Lurie and I remember it well. I remember talking to Bob some time ago about how hard this is, and I asked him, “So when do you need to do a buying process?” His response? “Only when you need to grow.”

What insights did you gain from the book?

That removing barriers is often a more effective path to behavior change than focusing on drivers. Make it easy for a customer to use/try our products. Talk about our offer in terms of how it can reduce risk, provide insurance, be the safe choice. Another key insight is that the book helps explain why many growth programs get stuck. Such programs focus on solving technology problems (important) but don’t have a good understanding of customer motivation, how they see their market position, and whether their technology improves that position enough to drive adoption.

Tim Dell

Did you have any aha moments while reading the book?

The concept of segmentation as a source of competitive advantage. I think it’s easy to think about technology and product as sources of competitive advantage, but when it comes to the way in which we segment our customers, that’s not obvious. This framework addresses the limitations of traditional segmentation — product and needs focus can definitely help you understand product preferences, but the preferences alone aren’t an indicator of the motivation to purchase. And because the segmentation learned in this book is both meaningful and actionable, it’s easy for all customer-facing functions to use and align their activities and focus around the different segments.

How do you think this book can make a difference or impact others?

It provides a practical road map for driving growth that goes beyond marketing and selling product and technology features. The stories provide real examples of how customers’ purchasing behaviors are influenced by non-product considerations. It gives you a set of tools for identifying these key behaviors and building value propositions that are most likely to result in purchase.

Is there anything else you would like to share about this book?

I’ve been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time through the years with Bob Lurie and have seen firsthand how he applies these principles to marketing and growth. The book is definitely written for the practitioner — there is a good balance of theory and “how to.” I encourage anyone responsible for generating new growth to read the book and apply the principles. I don’t think you’ll regret it!