Wants and needs

Once you’ve defined your audience and brand positioning, it’s helpful to understand the difference between desires and needs. When you’ve reached a decent level of wealth, it’s easy to mix the two. (Primal) needs are things you absolutely have to have. Think of the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: air, water, food, shelter, clothing (the basic kind, not those fancy party dresses)…
All the rest are desires, not real needs. 

If you can frame offer in a way that will address a primal need of your customer, your marketing will have more impact. If you say “people want fast, luxurious cars”, then that is all you can frame your brand story around. If you dig a bit deeper, though, you could e.g. realise that “people want fast, luxurious cars because it gives them status and a sense of power”.

Step 1
Have a look at the following elements of value.

Step 2
Compare these elements with your offer. What are the primary elements where you add value? How do you communicate and make this clear to your audience? 

A recipe for brand positioning

When I ask people to describe their brand positioning what most come back with are descriptions of why they are better than the competition. This is not in service of their customers but in service to themselves. Here is an alternative way of defining your brand positioning which is based on Seth Godin’s work.

Step 1
Make a list of all your audience’s desirables. The following are random examples which might or might be relevant to your own brand: 

– spiritual
– minimalist 
– natural
– ethical
– personal
– crafty
– playful
– participatory 

Step 2
Pick two of them and put them on a graph with two axes. Define where you’d like to sit within this graph and add a few of your competitors, too. Try your best to find a place where there is a lot of free room. What you’d want to avoid is joining a red ocean full of organisations that are shouting for customers’ attention. 

Step 3
Put obsessive effort into becoming really good in providing high satisfaction regarding the two desirables you have picked. Frame your brand story around that and put processes in place that serve the outcome your audience seeks. 

A match in stories

I’m sure, if given the chance, marketers would jump at the opportunity to implant an idea into people’s subconscious, just as in the movie Inception. I believe they kind of already are. Nowadays neuroscience is providing insights into how to connect with an audience on a deeper level than ever before, the type of connection that breeds utmost loyalty, evangelism.

When what a brand chooses to stand for, its peculiar worldview, connects with an audience that already shares the same beliefs, bringing about the change you seek to make, becomes so much easier. The audience members attach the stories they are already telling themselves to your brand story, if you earn their attention and trust.

This is why understanding not just demographics but psychographics is so important. You need to apply empathy and imagine who the people are you created the brand for. What are their desires and their needs? How do you introduce your brand to them and what does it do for them? How does it help them on their journey, not just your own?

The right type of customers

Years ago I had a conversation with an entrepreneur who managed a product design and product development studio. After I asked her how business was she started to complain how her customers didn’t understand product design, that are not clear about its value and on and on. It seemed to me that she was directing her marketing efforts towards people who didn’t believe what she believed. In her case it meant she first needed to sell the idea that design mattered to her prospect, before she could actually hope to make a sale.

I wonder what she’d achieve if she had focused her efforts more towards the kind of people who already understand the value of product design. I wonder what might have happened if she made correct assumptions about her customers and provided them with a brand story that satisfied a true need or desire. The sales cycle would be so much shorter and she’d have much more fun working with these kind of customers.