Want

Meet me in outer space

Justin Kownacki‘s first big web TV hit, Something To Be Desired, had the tag line, “What do you WANT?” It was an underlying theme of the series, though ridiculously subtle unless you were looking for it. The question is really powerful, isn’t it? “What do you want?”

What Do Buyers Want?

Buyers don’t want your product. They want something to ease a pain or increase their pleasure. When I buy RainX for my windshield fluid, it’s because I want to see the road better (visibility is a pain problem). When someone buys contact lenses, it’s because they consider glasses a pain (even if the vanity is the only pain). Buyers buy to solve a pain point much more often than they buy to increase their pleasure. Think about your last ten purchases or expenditures and you’ll see that.

What Do Employees Want?

Whenever I’m frustrated by the actions of some company, it’s usually a systematic thing. Icelandair stranded me in Reykjavik for an entire day, because they decided not to run a few extra planes to make up for their delays. The people behind the desk have no control over these decisions. They’re made by finance people who weigh 122 hotel rooms and food versus 3 jets and the fuel and fees (no-brainer). The employee serving me at that desk wants nothing more than for me to accept the decisions that have been made, take my little vouchers, and move on. (These wants, by the way, are pain/pleasure based, too. They want to avoid the pain of disgruntled passengers).

Understanding what employees want and that it rarely has anything to do with satisfying your needs goes a long way towards helping you better navigate your choices to solving a problem.

What Do You Want?

It’s forever baffling to me that people get frustrated or envious of others, and then cite a bunch of details and facts that, should they really examine them, would be completely attainable by them, if only they’d put in the effort. When I am the catcher of such gripes, I often ask my upset colleague or friend, “What do YOU want? And what are you doing to get it?” This, of course, starts a bunch of excuses flowing, but that’s okay. At least it’s a start in putting the onus back on the individual as opposed to leaving it floating out there in what Covey would call the Circle of Concern.

What YOU want is obviously the most important thing to know. Do you want to be famous? Do you want to be widely recognized for what you do? Do you want wealth? Do you want the love of your family? What you want factors in strongly to everything else you might think of doing in a day, don’t you think?

Marketers are In the Want Business

Sometimes, people call advertising the job of selling people things they don’t need. That may or may not be true. But most really successful marketers are most definitely in the business of selling wants. I bought this big giant TDK BoomBox (amazon affiliate link) because I saw someone’s video review of it and thought it was the sexiest audio thing I’d seen outside of my Sonos ZonePlayer. I wanted it. I most definitely didn’t need it. So, I bought it.

Marketers are in the want business. Are you spending enough time thinking about wants?

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  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hey Chris,

    Humans like variety, for better or worse.

    I think the problem regarding Want is that it changes… what I wanted last year is different than today. And tomorrow…

    Here’s the thing. I know I’m not consistent (and neither are my customers!) and I will deviate at some point.

    But… knowing this I’ve defined very specific goals and find ways to correct my path when/after I deviate. Otherwise you go in endless loops…

    Hope that makes sense.

    Ivan

  • http://www.adamonpurpose.wordpress.com Adam Pearson

    “Buyers buy to solve a pain point much more often than they buy to increase their pleasure.”

    Absolutely true, Chris. Thank you for reminding us of this fact.

  • Charlie Green

    One of the nice side-effects of this way of thinking, which you touch on in passing, is that it focuses responsibility.

    If you remember to ask yourself, “What do I want?” then you take the first step in taking responsibility for getting it; because even if you get it from someone else, you have to least articulate what it is you want, rather than depending on mind-reading.

    And if you someone–customer, spouse, friend, whatever–is whining, then as you point out at least the finger gets pointed in the right direction; let’s bring to consciousness just what it is you want, instead of endless cycling in the complaint space.

    It’s not only a good marketing question, then, but also one for sorting out one’s responsibilities in life.

    Good stuff Chris, thanks,

    Charlie

  • http://managingemployeeperforrmance.com Leon Noone

    G’Day Chris,
    To use the title of an old Count Basie classic, “Yeah Man.” As a relative web newbie but a business owner for 30+ years, I’m fascinated by many web marketers obsession with customer surveys.

    From the Wright brothers and the Lumieres to the iPad and Facebook, I can’t think of any household name product or service that’s been created as a result of asking customers what they need.

    But I can think of any number that are masterful interpretations of what customers might just want.

    Back in the 50s, I remember my father paying what was then almost a week’s wages for a ball point pen. The slogan–or tagline as it’d be called today? “It writes under water’” We kids pressed our noses hard against a department store window to watch a woman with a big bowl of water use this extraordinary implement to actually write under water. Wow!

    Make sure you have fun

    Regards

    Leon

  • Malachy Coleman

    Hey Chris,

    I have to say I am surprised that you are baffled “that people get frustrated or envious of others”. You of all people. Surely envy is one of the buttons that a lot of marketing tries to push in subtle and no so subtle ways to get people to act, to buy “what they want” – you know, that old boombox is greener and louder far away kind of thing. Don’t we all swim around in a sea of envy every time we pick up a magazine, turn on TV or surf on the net, tantalised by all these wonderful pastures all a yonder? I drown in it myself from time to time, like a lonely sailor, clutching onto my last debt-free credit card, dreaming of better days to come. Glug, glug ….

    Malachy

    • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

      Do I market using envy? Never. I market trying to help people achieve what they want. So I am baffled. Remember, I’m not a “real” marketer. I just help businesses and people make money by selling better.

      • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

        I do not envy you. I am motivated by you. When I see people having the life I would like to have, it makes my goals more clear to me. I have never felt that you market for envy Chris.

        Envy does nothing except keep us emotionally sick. I personally celebrate every good thing that happens to my friends because putting bad (or envious) feelings out there only begets more envy in my life.

        I know by how encouraging you are of your blog readers, and your Blog Topics community that you do not want us to envy you. I have never ever felt that.

        I am done. Rant over.

      • Malachy Coleman

        I didn’t say you use envy and sorry if it came across that way. I am just surprised you are baffled by it. It’s such a big emotional motor the marketing big boys and big girls lever into to open up people’s wallets on a daily basis. And it is hard to escape from such envy in the narcissistic culture we are surrounded by. So your timely question about what people really want is a step away from that sea of inebriated spending that is so easy to fall into sometimes. A healthy step back to look at what we want. But in my experience, when you do ask people what they want, their first response is rarely their final answer. It takes guts to dig down past all the pat answers we have secretly prepared to get to the hard answers. Because a lot of the things we want, we don’t really need. But when a business meets a real need, then everyone becomes a winner.

  • http://linkedin.com/in/joesorge Joe Sorge

    Really like this line of thinking, thanks Chris. As for Ivan’s comment that want changes, precisely! I think that’s what makes “want” work for marketing.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

    I know what I want for myself personally. I have to be very careful about not letting my ego get the best of me. Sometimes I can want something that is not healthy for me, and then I run into a problem. I can become a slave to my wants, and that serves no one. It becomes a matter of “be careful what you wish for”

    As far as marketing goes, I know that there are many times I will see something and say “I WANT that!” and I have to tip my hat that they pushed a button within me that made me WANT that item that badly. The last time I had a “I WANT that” moment, I was clothes shopping in NYC. 200 dollars later, the want monster was quieted. For now.

  • http://twitter.com/NancyD68 Nancy Davis

    I know what I want for myself personally. I have to be very careful about not letting my ego get the best of me. Sometimes I can want something that is not healthy for me, and then I run into a problem. I can become a slave to my wants, and that serves no one. It becomes a matter of “be careful what you wish for”

    As far as marketing goes, I know that there are many times I will see something and say “I WANT that!” and I have to tip my hat that they pushed a button within me that made me WANT that item that badly. The last time I had a “I WANT that” moment, I was clothes shopping in NYC. 200 dollars later, the want monster was quieted. For now.

  • http://ClimbingEveryMountain.com Mary E. Ulrich

    It is the “wants” that help us decide if we are living our best lives–What do we REALLY want?

  • http://www.panaceamobile.com Mekyla Wilsnauch

    I know what i want, but that changes every year,every month. We all want better never worse. Thats what keeps any economy going ! I dont ever want it to change.

  • Basil

    I think easing pain and increasing pleasure is dead on. That’s what the purchase decision always boils down to. Marketers roles can also be turning “wants” into “needs”.

  • Basil

    I think easing pain and increasing pleasure is dead on. That’s what the purchase decision always boils down to. Marketers roles can also be turning “wants” into “needs”.

  • http://justinkownacki.blogspot.com Justin Kownacki

    Hey, double-posting. Awesome…

  • http://justinkownacki.blogspot.com Justin Kownacki

    Hey, double-posting. Awesome…

  • http://justinkownacki.blogspot.com Justin Kownacki

    This is all because I made a success joke on Twitter this week, isn’t it? ;)

    But yes, examining our own desires is something most of us don’t do enough, if at all. They say “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” but you could easily apply that to your career, too: “If you don’t want something, you’ll say ‘yes’ to everything.”

    Be judicious in your choices. Aim for something. Or don’t, and just enjoy life’s rich experience — but to do that, you’d need to NOT be a goal-oriented person in the first place.

  • http://justinkownacki.blogspot.com Justin Kownacki

    This is all because I made a success joke on Twitter this week, isn’t it? ;)

    But yes, examining our own desires is something most of us don’t do enough, if at all. They say “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” but you could easily apply that to your career, too: “If you don’t want something, you’ll say ‘yes’ to everything.”

    Be judicious in your choices. Aim for something. Or don’t, and just enjoy life’s rich experience — but to do that, you’d need to NOT be a goal-oriented person in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/PeterPaluska Peter Paluska

    Hi Chris,

    Oh sure, the old want vs. need issue. Sometimes they bleed into each other so seamlessly that it becomes difficult to distinguish the two.
    I believe you are right, however, about need fueling most of our purchases.

    Might we think of it thus?

    Need = necessary expenses

    and

    Want = discretionary spending

    Fun, important questions to ponder for sure. Thanks for the ideas!

    Peter

  • http://mombeams.com Erlinda Shen

    Wow, this is a complete paradigm shift for me. Although I know that I am trying to cater to moms who want to stay home and work, to actually have you spell it out is eye-opening. Selling something is one thing, selling it to alleviate pain or enhance life is quite another.

    Buy this thing.
    Why?
    Because it’s such good quality.
    So?
    Well, it’s great quality and can do XYZ.
    Sorry, not interested.

    OR

    I see you have a problem, there. Can you explain it to me?
    I can’t do ABC.
    I see, well here are some resources for you. By the way, I can also offer this thing to help you with this problem. It is specifically designed for you and your situation.
    Thanks, I will look into it.

    Relationship established, potential sale pending.

    Now that I have had this paradigm shift, I can write blog posts, ebay ads, etc. with the specific purpose of helping people solve a problem or enhance their living experience. For me, this is waaay better than shoving something down someone’s throat (buybuybuy). It’s sales and marketing unplugged.

    Thanks Chris. Love your blog.

    -Erlinda

  • Marcy Massura

    There is a clarity in this post that resonates with me…particularly since I have a standard response to people who ask ‘how do you do so much?’….I reply with “there is enough time in every day to do what you WANT”. Meaning, we find away for our WANTS. But first you have to clearly, tangibly define THOSE WANTS.

    Same applies to business….I start off every client meeting with the same question: what do you want and how can we get there? Knowing the destination is not enough…having the skills to navigate the road there (and mapping that out) makes all the difference.

    I know what I want. And I am getting it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MIUIR2BWLRPL362PWMJW5US7MU Kristin

    I definitely do not spend time thinking about what I want. It’s clear though that what I want is making up what I do everyday. I am constantly fascinated at the decisions that people make, the products they buy and the reasons behind their choices, but rarely do I ask “Why?”. I think it’s important to not only know what we want out of life and situations, but also know what the reasoning is for wanting it.
    This offered some great insight, and I think I’ll have to start asking myself “Why?”, not just “What?”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MIUIR2BWLRPL362PWMJW5US7MU Kristin

    I definitely do not spend time thinking about what I want. It’s clear though that what I want is making up what I do everyday. I am constantly fascinated at the decisions that people make, the products they buy and the reasons behind their choices, but rarely do I ask “Why?”. I think it’s important to not only know what we want out of life and situations, but also know what the reasoning is for wanting it.
    This offered some great insight, and I think I’ll have to start asking myself “Why?”, not just “What?”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MIUIR2BWLRPL362PWMJW5US7MU Kristin

    I definitely do not spend time thinking about what I want. It’s clear though that what I want is making up what I do everyday. I am constantly fascinated at the decisions that people make, the products they buy and the reasons behind their choices, but rarely do I ask “Why?”. I think it’s important to not only know what we want out of life and situations, but also know what the reasoning is for wanting it.
    This offered some great insight, and I think I’ll have to start asking myself “Why?”, not just “What?”.

  • http://hannahsharvest.com Hannahmarcotti

    Off topic: I love that you got sexy and audio into the same sentence. Blog topics is an awesome $10 if you want to be inspired!!!!

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

    Just when I thought I had you on our team, “Sometimes, people call advertising the job of selling people things they don’t need.”

    Chris Chris Chris…:)

    Advertising means we reveal to you things that you didn’t *know* you need…things that make your life better in ways that you thought were utterly beyond hope. Did you ever know that your windshield could be as clean as it is now? Probably not, but advertising said to you, “Chris, there’s a world of the ultimate clean windshield right within your grasp. Come, walk with us. And get out your wallet as you walk.”

    I’m telling you, I’m going to win this game if it takes my last gasping blog comment :)

    • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

      Margie

      A lot of what you said here I was nodding (literally) however I am going to go a bit further here. Are we as advertisers revealing things that they did not know they need or more giving them reasons to need? There is a difference there as if you tell me in vegas that I need windshield wiper fluid to make my windshield cleaner … um please tell me when it gets dirty. If you are telling me that your brand of windshield wiper fluid blocks uv rays then that has created an emotional connection for me as blocking uv rays helps with they eyes and the spots I missed with sunblock. I do not need windshield wiper fluid here 90% of the time but if it blocked uv rays, I would use it constantly. A reason to need.

      As you know I go to the behavior side of things and I truly believe that we do not buy unless we have a certain connection to it. Something that resonates with us that tells the brain we need this to make this better/easier/more efficient. You finally finding the Magic Eraser … you took a risk and it paid off. They were telling you how great it was but you did not listen until you were faced with them or nothing (so happy you joined the club of magic eraser is the best cleaning product) Behaviorally you had to make the choice of this or nothing. You could have used paper towels and 409 but you had that connection to the product you had used and within yourself had to find something that gave you reasons to need. You bought so the reason to need was established.

      Best is that we will both mull this over and prob chat this weekend and you will create so crazy good blogs from it all that you did not know you needed =-).

      • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman

        Now don’t be telling everyone how we come up with our great ideas, Z-Mag! :)

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  • http://www.spaceheaterstudios.com/landing-page-creation/ Landing Page Creation

    Great points. If you don’t know what you want to begin with, how do you plan on getting anywhere? You will be stuck in a holding pattern, going from one thing to another always trying to find something that is fulfilling. But you can’t find fulfillment if you don’t know what you want fulfilled!

  • http://twitter.com/doulosmarketing Dave Wellman

    I think knowing what you want is really important. Too many people out there trying to make a buck off what others want and forget themselves in the process. I’m not talking narcissism here, just building your business to meet your needs AS you meet the needs of your customers and employees.

  • http://twitter.com/doulosmarketing Dave Wellman

    I think knowing what you want is really important. Too many people out there trying to make a buck off what others want and forget themselves in the process. I’m not talking narcissism here, just building your business to meet your needs AS you meet the needs of your customers and employees.

  • http://twitter.com/doulosmarketing Dave Wellman

    I think knowing what you want is really important. Too many people out there trying to make a buck off what others want and forget themselves in the process. I’m not talking narcissism here, just building your business to meet your needs AS you meet the needs of your customers and employees.

  • Elly Terhaar

    You bring up a lot of good points. In the world today we think that we want everything. When we don’t get what we want we often get upset or go through great lengths to get it. I have to say that I am guilty of being envious of others. Let’s just say that I really do need to focus on what I want and not what others have!

  • Daniel Decker

    Truly powerful post Chris. Full of practical application.

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  • Anonymous

    Isn’t everyone in the Want business in the same way that Everyone Sells?

    If you’re trying to sell anything, you’re in the Want business.

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  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    Awesome post and every one in the business wants some thing or the other and great examples too.

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