Why People Pay and Why It Matters

Carlos Silva
2 min readAug 13, 2021


Look it up in the dictionary and you’ll find that marketing is the activity that surrounds the transfer of goods, from consumer to buyer.

This, for that.

But we also pay with time, attention, and love.

And even when we pay with money, it’s rarely a ‘this, for that’ transaction, since all value is subjective.

It’s easy to fall in love with your idea, but as you do, it’s important to consider why someone will pay you (with their time, attention, love, or money).

We live in a world where the definition of value is changing, even big industries like music and publishing are having a hard time figuring this out.

First, consider the reasons why your customers might pay you….

Taxes, basic food, and shelter.

Life insurance, private school fees.

Fear of missing out
Sales, special offers, peer pressure.

Snack-size, easy-open, home delivery, and so on.

Perceived value
A coke at the movies is worth more to the popcorn eater than the coke that’s at home in the fridge.

There is no substitute for it. Think iPod or the Sydney Opera House.

Conferences, clubs, concerts, events, and online programs.

A shortcut
PayPal, Slimfast, Google.

It feels good
Kickstarter, charity donations, volunteering, books.

To reinforce the story they tell themselves and those around them.
Starbucks, Jimmy Choo shoes, French champagne, organic vegetables, gym memberships, Fair Trade, Beats by Dr. Dre.

It turns out that transactions are a transfer of emotion, which means you can’t tell a story to the right customers unless you understand the story they want to believe.

Which story should you be telling?



Carlos Silva

6 years ago I was homeless, unemployed, and signing divorce papers. Honing my storytelling skills, marketing, and remote work saved my life.