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Why needs-based marketing fails and what to do about it

Copyright (c) 2006-2021

Business 101 tells us that in order to have a sustainable competitive advantage we must offer products and services that satisfy customer needs and we need to do it in a way that is in some way better than our competitors.

Logically, then, shouldn't your marketing focus on letting customers know what a great job you do when it comes to meeting their needs?

Yes and no. Although customer needs are incredibly important and should be taken into account when you plan and develop your marketing, they shouldn't be the focus of your marketing. Money spent on needs-focused marketing is not money well-spent.

Needs-focused marketing doesn't work because people spend money on what they want not on what they need. It's like the classic song from the Rolling Stones:

"You can't always get what you want And if you try sometime you find You get what you need"

What's important to remember is that even though you can't always get what you want you still want it and you still try to get it. This is why marketing that focuses on satisfying your customer's wants is always a lot more compelling than marketing that focuses on needs.

Does this mean you can ignore the needs of your customers and clients when developing your marketing? Absolutely not! You need to consider both wants and needs in your marketing. You market to customer wants and you deliver on customer needs.

Let's first define what "wants" and "needs" mean when it comes to marketing.

At their most basic level, human needs are what we need to stay alive: air, water, food, and sleep. Once these basic needs are met, we focus on meeting higher level needs: companionship, security, protection from the elements, entertainment, and so on.

In the United States and countries with similar economies, these basic needs are pretty well met for the majority of people. This is why most products and services today focus on meeting higher level needs.

There are two ways to think about wants:

1. Desire for relief from pain For example, an aspirin ad, "I just want my headache to go away." The pain here is self-evident.

Pain is often a symptom of an important need that isn't being met. Headaches can be a sign of too much stress, not eating right, needing to wear glasses, or something even more serious.

2. A preference for how you want a need met

For example, most of us need shoes to protect our feet from getting injured. Some of us prefer wearing Nike cross-trainers and some of us prefer wearing pink satin slippers with beaded trim.

This means two things when it comes to marketing your products and services:

1. Your marketing focuses on relief from pain and/or customer wants

2. You make sure when someone becomes a customer that your products and services provide the solution to make sure their real needs get met.

STEPS TO CREATE WANTS-FOCUSED MARKETING

1. Understand the symptoms and wants that are driving your customer's interest in buying from you.

2. Know what the important unmet needs that are causing the symptoms

3. Create a marketing message that addresses your customer's symptoms and wants

4. Make sure that once that person becomes a customer that your products and services address what is causing the need to remain unmet.

5. Honor the want

For example, life coaching has become a very popular profession but a lot of coaches struggle to attract clients because they don't understand why people hire coaches.

A lot of marketing I see from coaches focuses on helping their clients meet very high-level needs. For example, "Life Coaching for Personal and Professional Empowerment"

Getting past the jargon ("empowerment") what need is this coaching addressing? Probably the need people have to feel effective and in control of different areas of their life. That's a very legitimate need that many people have and that a good life coach can help them with.

The problem is that most of us aren't in the market for "empowerment," or "better self-awareness" or "cognitive structures." We are, however, in the market for:

"Helping me deal with my jerky boss who is making my life totally miserable"

"Helping me get my kid to keep their room clean"

"Telling me what to do so I have enough money to retire on."

If your marketing doesn't address the wants of your customers or relief from the pain they are experiencing, they won't be interested in doing business with you.

How could this life coach change his or her marketing to appeal to the wants and desires of their prospective client?

How about:

"Are your kids driving you crazy because they never clean up after themselves?"

or

"Is your boss making your life miserable?"

Once someone contracts to work with this coach, they can work with the client to implement cognitive structures, systems, etc, to help the client address the cause of their problem (improve self-esteem, become more assertive) to their heart's content. If they address the cause and help the client get their needs met, they will have a very satisfied client who will happily refer more business their way.

BOTTOM LINE

Your marketing message needs to talk about the pain your customer is experiencing or a want that they have.

Your products, services, solutions, and so on need to address what's causing the problem so the symptoms go away or to satisfy the particular want.

When your message and solution work in this way, you attract a lot more qualified prospects and you retain a greater percentage as satisfied customers. This holds true for any type of small business marketing from brochures to word of mouth referral marketing programs.


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and five-star strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, "Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!" go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm
You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or judy@judymurdoch.com

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Last Distribution Date:
2006-11-08 13:00:00

Internal ID: #3871





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