So, You Want To Sell Sand To People At The Beach?


If you think about it, there is only one fundamental concept in marketing which cannot be denied. That is, us marketers are communicating to our customers about how our product or service satiates a particular need of theirs. It’s one of the only concepts in marketing which is concrete and if you master it – not only will you communicate your product’s features better to the market, but you could also convince your audience that they NEED WHAT YOU SELL. It sounds like pretty powerful stuff, doesn’t it? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and this article is going to reveal incisive information which will dramatically improve the decisions and implementations you make in your business.

People have needs.

No matter who you are or what you do, you still have needs. A famous model many marketers like to use (myself especially) is called Maslow’s Hierarchy – it’s a pyramid which outlines and ranks people’s needs on different levels however I believe they vary according to your values and the gravity of the need. For your convenience, here are the parts which make up the model in terms of business marketing:

At the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy is ‘Physiological Needs’. These are the most basic needs people require to survive, like food, water and air. After all, no one wants to die, so unless you’re the devil or a charity offering support, you probably can’t market using this type of need.

Next up on the hierarchy is ‘Safety Needs’. Once a person has reasonably satisfied their physical needs, they will do whatever they possibly can to stay safe and out of trouble. An example of a product to satiate a Safety need would be insurance, security alarms, healthcare, shelter and warranties.

As we progress up on the hierarchy, we begin to encounter ‘Belongingness Needs’. These needs are felt when a person wants to have friends or feel intimate with someone. I personally believe that these needs are the most sought after in our society today. To fulfill one of these needs, a person longs for social approval, love and even allegiance to popular brands like Harley Davidson!

Further up the chain comes ‘Esteem Needs’ which is all about a person’s status and power in society. Have you ever seen someone go out and buy a Porsche – even though they definitely didn’t need it? The chances are that they are doing it out of their ego, as a form of conspicuous consumption or invidious distinction. Many businesses leverage these needs by positioning their brands by using words like, exquisite, refined, delicate, dainty and superior.

The final step on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is perhaps encountered the least by consumers and is commonly referred to as ‘Being Needs’. A person might encounter these types of needs when they want to learn about themselves or improve themselves for their own sake – not to gain social approval (Belongingness) or to improve their status in society (Esteem). You might find that this works especially well for the marketing of religions, the recruiting of people for spiritual enlightenment and donating to charity.

Needs reside in people as motivations to help them survive. So keeping these needs in mind can really help you when you have a product or service to market.

You don’t need what you don’t know about.

Yep, it’s true! Every single purchase your customers make starts off with the recognition of a problem at some level. For instance, I could be browsing around the Internet and I might see an ad – “Did you know that wearing suspenders is cool in bars?”. Now, in that ad it brings my attention to the fact that I need to look cool to go out to clubs and meet people. However at the same time I’m not convinced that suspenders will make me look cool, so I read the rest of the ad and somehow it convinces me that suspenders ARE cool and I end up buying them.
In the above example three things happened – The advertisement drew my attention to solving a need, it convinced me why their product works and I purchased it. Simple? No? Well, if you can highlight solution to a need of your target audience, you will engage your customers and make sales much more easily. By the way, just in case you’re wondering – No, your ad doesn’t HAVE to be so blunt. And. No, I don’t wear suspenders…

People like brands which they trust.

Make it a point to focus on your customers and to take them under your wing. This goes along with the need for belongingness, so go ahead and make relationships with your customers by knowing them well. Not only will they trust you more, but they will also keep you atop their mind.

Looking to live an exclusive lifestyle?

Some people might respond better to things which distinguish them from the average Joe. So give them reasons why they should buy your product or service. If you’re lucky, and you can speak to them one on one, give them a genuine compliment or act interested in their stories but don’t forget you are tying to sell them something at the end of the day.

Safety comes first.

It turns out that our mothers were right (well for the most part anyway) – we all need to feel safe and secure. If you market a product which is safer for people to use, try targeting people who value safety and security over all else, like with this Roy Morgan Values Segment. Also offer money back guarantees like Dell and endorse your affiliate’s products (provided they are worth it). With a friendly brand and a lot of trust between your customer and your brand, you may even secure yourself a valuable long term customer.

Putting them to practice.

I won’t go into details with the other two types of needs, but you get the drift. Be conscious of how your product helps your consumer satisfy themselves. Needs are one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing and they’re also reason why you could sell a man sand at the beach. Develop your products with your consumers’ needs in mind. Position it according to the needs you are aiming to satisfy with your product and price it aptly. Finally, develop your ads for your target audience and determine whether or not you are telling them what they need to know before buying from you.

Now get out there partner and sell something!

Best regards,
Robert Kingston.

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