Pay attention to what your customer wants and then sell it to them. On today’s show, Gerry Fosterreminds us to always be customer-centric when aiming for growth. Understanding the difference between audience’s wants and needs is essential. Gerry teaches us how we can determine these two and notes the importance of speaking to the wants of the client. In a competitive market, you must find a way to be distinct at the same time satisfy your customers’ wants.
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Sell Wants, Not Needs
At P&G, Proctor & Gamble, where I carved my branding teeth and developed my branding chops so to speak, it was drilled into me that the consumer is the boss. The easiest way to grow any business regardless of the size of the business is realizing the customer is in command. Like a king or queen, he or she is in charge, dictates the rules and demands superb experiences. Putting out a brand that attracts and pleases people so you can increase sales, sustain profit growth and live in their kingdom or queendom requires what? It’s letting the consumer or the customer guide you, which means you are customer-centric. Always think customer first.
Pay attention to what your target audience wants. When I say target audience, I want you to think about your brand community, who you want to comprise your community, it becomes your tribe, otherwise known as your perfect customers, your dream customer, your avatars. If you’re looking to build your brand that is filled to the brim with the kind of customers you want, it also means being relevant. It means giving people precisely what they’re looking for and making sure that your brand delivers. I’ve been talking about that. It also means performing the way they want and expect you to perform. It’s making decisions in their best interest, not yours, and being fluid in what you create. How you serve it up and not set in your ways so that when you get to the messaging part, you are able to craft a brand message that you carry over and integrate with whatever marketing you decide to do. That you can communicate what no one else is communicating.
Because in your marketing, you don’t want to say the same thing that someone else is saying or appear the same as someone else because then you’re not distinguishing yourself. The good news is that all of this allows you to avoid the fate of being another product on a shelf, another service in the marketplace or even a nonprofit if you have one with no personal, distinctive points of difference. It’s all about differentiating yourself, especially for those of you who are creating a personal brand where you’re branding yourself, skills, talents, abilities, expertise in whatever field of expertise you’re in. It’s all about having distinctive points of difference. When you think like this, you get to avoid trying to go head-to-head in some kind of battle or war with a particular competitor. Because the moment that you try to unseat a competitor who was already saying what you were saying or want to say, or you think that you should say the same thing that they’re saying, get ready to push a boulder up a hill.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re rolling a rock uphill, you know the absurdity of having to do work that is futile day in and day out. Futile day in and day out work is no fun. The best alternative is to what? Fulfill unmet wants. Go after the underserved consumer. Include in your description of your ideal customer the ones who have wants that are not being met. Notice I said wants and not needs. Needs are logical, wants are emotional. Since most brands are bought on emotion justified with logic, it makes sense to speak to the wants that your target audience has as opposed to what you think they need.
Being Customer Centric: Speak to the wants that your target audience has as opposed to what you think they need.
For example, I may need food but want a Big Mac because getting it is fast and inexpensive. I just go to McDonald’s. I may need a car but want a Mercedes Benz for the luxury, performance and perception that I am rich. I may need a cup of coffee but want that special experience that Starbucks offers that I won’t get at a 7-Eleven or another coffee shop. There’s nothing wrong with going to 7-Eleven. There’s nothing wrong with going to other coffee shops, but I want the, “Starbucks experience.” We all have necessities. We need our cell phones. Some of us need our gym memberships, cable TV, or places that we prefer to eat out or drink. We get the latest iPhone or Android or we get DirectTV or we use Grubhub or DoorDash for food delivery. It goes on and on. It’s all part of being a human being. Distinguishing between what people want from your brand versus what they need could mean the difference between growth or decline for your small business.
A quick and easy way to separate the two, a quick and easy way to determine the difference between a want and need is to think of a need as something required for survival. Food, shelter, water, clothes to keep us warm, a shelter to live in, those are necessities. Want, on the other hand, is emotional in nature. Wants are there to make life, for example, more fun, easier and a little more enjoyable. A great example of this is found in the toothpaste market, the need to buy some toothpaste. Who doesn’t need that? Do you need to buy some toothpaste? Of course. Plain old toothpaste may meet the need, but it may not be what you want. You may want a wider smile, fresher breath, healthier gums, greater plaque and tartar control. Therefore, your emotional want or desire could be to feel more confident or attractive with a wider, cleaner, healthier smile.
You feel better when you look better. Find your place of distinction in a competitive market. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, find your place of distinction. Plant your flag and stake your claim there. Grab hold of that spot in the marketplace that isn’t already taken by some other brand, enabling you to deliver a customer experience like no other. At the end of the day, you can say that my brand is elite, the best, top shelf, best in class, the first and the only. After that happens, the sky’s the limit.
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