Benjamin Franklin once said,
“Our necessities never equal our wants.”
Which is exactly why the first and most important question of great marketing is NOT “do they need it?” Many a well-intentioned yet shamefully-confused marketer has started with a concept he thought was a need of a certain group of people.
It’s why that first question is “Do they WANT it?” No need. We’re talking about “want” here. If you’re not clear on who it is you are serving, and how what you have satisfies them, you got nothing.
It’s a fundamental marketing principle that must be accepted: our wants, not our needs, drive our actions. – Click to Tweet
We must not focus on merely meeting needs. Meeting needs will never get you what you want.
In fact, there’s something insanely human about actually neglecting our needs, even against our better judgment. Equally insane, we humans will move heaven and earth to get what we want.
Toothpaste or Candy?
When my son was about 5-years-old (and now, of course), he needed to brush his teeth every night. And yet it was an exhausting ritual that he and I had to go through just to get him to pick up his toothbrush.
I offered my boy the chance to meet a real need every night, multiple times, over and over. It’s a pretty tough sell.
It’s tough because it’s something he doesn’t want.
On the other hand, I only have to ask once if he wants a piece of candy. The simple promise of a single M&M can get him to finish a plateful of broccoli. In fact, it’s usually my son that first asks me if he can have something sweet.
It’s easy because it’s something he wants.
If needs were all we wanted, there would be no such thing as ice cream; only salads. There would be no such thing as corvettes; only SMART cars.
Do They Want What You Have?
So, how much do people want what you’ve got?
How much easier could selling be if you were selling “candy” instead of “toothpaste?” What if you had prospects who were voluntarily seeking out what you offer vs. you having to hunt them down to try to convince them that they need what you have? What if it was their idea to ask for the candy vs. you having to nag them to brush their teeth?
It would change EVERYTHING.
I spent 10 years of my career working with nutrition companies, and currently consult with several at any given time. I’ve seen so many amazing discoveries and technologies emerge. Products created that support a healthier life at every level. Products for heart health, immune support, digestive health…you name it. Lots of products that people need, according to the most reputable science.
But guess what always outsells all the stuff people need…
Weight loss and skin care products. Why? Because that’s what people want. People want to look better, and fast. We may need to consume more fruits and vegetables, but we want to look like Brad and Angelina.
Needs may get some attention, but wants get dollars. – Click to Tweet
Study Your Target Audience
Think about your target market, your bull’s eye. What do they really want? What do they crave?
Look at what you’re offering. Does it provide what they want? Be honest ….
If your answer to the second question doesn’t closely resemble your answer to the first, you need to either change your audience, or, more likely, change your product.
If your answer to the second does resemble your answer to the first, then it’s time to push it to the extreme. Dwell on that want. Drill down to its core essence. What makes people truly want that? Capture that in words, in images, and start reshaping your offers and the way you describe your product.
If you can make a product that people already want without you having to convince them, you are light years ahead of the game. It can empower your sales force in a way that’s truly unfair.
Similarly, if you can effectively engage an audience that already wants your product rather than target an audience that requires you to educate them on why they need it, you’ll save a lot of time and have a much better return.
About Brett Duncan
Brett is a founding partner with Strategic Choice Partners, and an experienced executive specializing in marketing, communications and digital strategic consulting.
He worked for his first direct sales company two days a week while still in college packing shipments in their warehouse from 5 until midnight. He began at the entry level of the marketing department at AdvoCare, International in 2002, rising to the position of marketing manager before he left in 2007. In 2009, he joined Mannatech as Sr. Director of Global Online Solutions. He was then promoted to Vice President of Global Marketing in 2011.
Learn more about Brett on his bio page, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss how Brett and SCP can help your company.
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