Does Marketing Create or Satisfy Needs?
Great marketing campaigns captivate hearts and minds, compelling people to take action to meet their unique needs, but does marketing create or satisfy needs?
In this article, we will discover how marketing both creates and satisfies needs by creating a heightened sense of urgency that provokes action. Their need existed somehow, buried deep, before they ever encountered your marketing channels, however it was marketing that created a desire for that need to be satisfied.
So, does marketing create or satisfy needs? Marketing creates a need, convincing consumers that your particular product is not an option, but a necessity, therefore motivating them to purchase. However, marketing also satisfies a need, reminding consumers of their pain points and swaying them from inaction to action.
In my decade of marketing experience and through the course of several industry discussions, I’ve come to the conclusion that marketing both satisfies and creates need. In this article, we will take a look at the psychology of need as well as how leading marketing experts and businesses are leveraging the needs of their customers to build their brands.
So how does marketing create a need?
The basic needs of any human being are food, shelter, clothing and sleep. As you move higher up the pyramid of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you begin to identify an even greater variety of motivators that compel consumers to seek out solutions and to purchase - from love and belonging, to the need for self-actualization through education and the development of skills.
From each of these needs, there lives a springboard of markets and niches, where both simplistic and revolutionary products are created, evolved and refined. Marketing pinpoints a specific person, along with their unique collection of needs, and aligns communications to demonstrate to the consumer that the product reflects a new facet of their evolving needs.
Identify the need
The first step to creating a need is to identify that need. Market research helps businesses keep their ear to the ground by determining what matters the most to consumers. Conducting surveys, focus groups, polls and case studies can guide your marketing strategy. This type of research helps determine what your customers need, when they need it and why.
Understanding your customer’s “why” can help you re-create this powerful motivator with similar customer profiles. You should also understand the customer’s story. When do they reach for your solution? What are they doing? What are their triggers? Also, how do they develop their need for your product?
For example, a new mom may not know that she needs a bassinet. She may own a crib. However, within the first few days of bringing her baby home, she may quickly discover that she needs to keep the baby close to her. So, if you are the producer of the bassinet, your role would be to determine what you can do to reach her, perhaps, before she leaves the hospital. Perhaps, you can build a community of expectant mothers and new moms to share tips and advice.
Identify and clarify the need of your customer so you can create marketing content that speaks directly to that need.
Identify the persona with the need
The more you understand about your customers’ needs, the better marketing tactics you can employ. Study your consumer’s desires, fears, objections, flaws, passions, wants, likes and needs. Identify the common traits of your customers and group them together by persona. For example, you may target college students for an affordably priced laptop, or you could target parents whose children are attending virtual school. Each persona is searching for a laptop, however their motivational factors are much different.
Talk to your existing customers. Better yet, build the process of collecting consumer information into your business. Offer discounts in exchange for their information. Ask a “quick question” before they finalize their purchase. Teach floor salespersons to document conversations with in-person customers. Learn to speak their language by getting direct quotes or asking open-ended questions. Systematize the collection of consumer information however you can.
As you gather information, analyze your customer demographics. Start out with broad characteristics like age, profession, marital status, location, salary, education and interests. Then, begin to narrow down your customer persona by analyzing circumstances surrounding their demographic such as social class, monthly expenses, time utilization and cultural nuances. Leave no stone unturned.
Every time you identify something new about your customer, you can go back to that persona and dig a little deeper. Find someone who fits your customer persona and build a conversation where you can uncover your persona’s motivations layer by layer to gain a deeper understanding.
Find or build a community around your persona
Once you have a good idea of your consumers’ needs as well as their persona profile, you should consider ways to bring your ideal customers together. For example, if Eric hosts a weekly Facebook Live analyzing Washington Football games and selling memorabilia, he could run a Facebook ad targeting followers of the Washington Football Facebook page, inviting them to join his Facebook Group. He could offer special discounts to his Facebook group and build a community of fans, and essentially warm leads.
Think of ways you can create a movement around your product. Use live video to create conversations around your product. Implement influencer marketing to build community and engagement around your brand. Review customer testimonials and discover how you are meeting those fundamental needs of self-actualization or love and belonging and empower your target audience to come together around this cause.
Another option is, instead of building a community, you can find communities that already exist. Partner with local organizations within your industry that are interested in what you have to sell. Focus on supporting their efforts and help to enhance their experience.
Whether you decide to build your own community or to support another community, as you invest in community, you are creating a market of warm leads that you can return to over and over again. There’s a saying, “Dig your well before you're thirsty”. Invest in community by providing valuable and relevant content to a community that will gradually see you as an industry expert and will be willing to invest back into you.
How does marketing satisfy a need?
Once a person is convinced that they have a need, marketing brings solutions to the customer. Using various marketing channels and communicating a clear solution, marketing communications have the power to bring awareness to the customer and inspire them to make a purchasing decision. Effective marketing systems and messaging make the unique value of the product come alive. As the customer engages with the marketing, the connection is made and the consumer’s need is satisfied.
The challenge is often to communicate the product’s benefits in a way that stands out, especially in a noisy market. If your product is revolutionary, the challenge could also be to convince the consumer that they have that particular need. You do this by honing in on the customer journey and giving them imagery and emotions to support a purchasing decision. Help them envision the solution to their problem through education, and by demonstrating the unique value that you have to offer. As you generate desire in your customers, don’t be afraid to go in for the ask. Remember that you are in the business of serving your customers by providing the solutions that they desperately need.
Educate your consumers with content marketing
Content marketing is very flexible and diverse in its application. From whitepapers and case studies to memes and IG stories, consumer education builds trust for your consumers and heightens awareness for your brand. As you educate the consumer, you demonstrate expertise, while stating the reasons that your customer should purchase your solution.
As you examine your customer persona, focus on their pain points. List reasons why they need your solution and how it could help them solve their problems. Present testimonials and statistics to help demonstrate your knowledge. Factual content can also help prove that your solution works and that their problem is solvable. You are empowering your customer with knowledge so they can make the informed decision of investing in your product or services.
As you educate your customer, you also position yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your field. This is a great way to attract new potential customers who are looking for solutions. As people look for answers to their questions, they find your educational content along with the products or services that can help with their problem.
Highlight the unique benefits that differentiate your product from competitors
What is your unique selling proposition? What is it about your brand or product that is superior or unique from your competitors? Include your unique selling proposition on your packaging, your branding, your tagline and in every conversation and communication about your product. Far too often is this tip forgotten.
Customers want to know why they should choose your solution over others. Up until they’ve encountered your brand, they have handled their pain point in one way or another, with or without another product. So what makes them spend their hard-earned money on your solution? Customers will choose your product because of the unique value that you offer, however, you must ensure that your customer understands those differentiators.
So how do you determine your unique selling proposition? Go back to your target persona. What is it that they are looking for? Culturally, how can you relate to them in a way that other products cannot? What is your brand promise to your customer and how can you make that super obvious?
Go back to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and identify the foundational need behind your product. If your customers are buying a security system, look for ways to engage their need for safety. Work hard to get a deep, emotional understanding of your customers’ journey.
Create a powerful brand identity that resonates with your target audience
Your brand identity is composed of your brand messaging, your visual aesthetic and your brand persona. If your brand was a person, who would it be and why?
Think of character traits that embody your brand while aligning with your target persona. How does your target persona interact with your product and when? How can you reflect these ideas in your brand images and in your brand messaging? There are certain meanings behind colors - the color red evokes power, strength and boldness, while the color blue may stir up images of the ocean, the sky and serenity.
You also want to consider your brand voice. How does your customer want to be spoken to? Is it a voice of reason, or perhaps a voice of love and gentleness? Use your target persona to inform your brand identity across the board. This will help customers who have a strong need and desire for your product, actually find your brand and make a connection.
Provide a clear call to action across marketing channels
As you cultivate a strong desire within your audience, it is critical that you go in for the all-important “ask”. Make it easy for customers to find out how to work with you or how to purchase your products. Don’t make the customer have to hunt for your services and eventually, maybe even walk away. It is surprising how many times this important step of simply asking for the sale is neglected. Use bold, obvious colors for your call to action buttons on your website. Make sure that your text is readable. In live videos and classes, spend adequate time describing your solution and how to take action.
Take the time to walk through your customer process as if you were the customer, so you can see where the customer may get distracted or confused. If you have a friend or a fresh set of eyes, ask that person to click through your site. Pay someone to do a usability test on your online platforms and provide feedback. Make the investment to ensure that all of your hard work does not go to waste, but that you are able to cash in on all of your effort.