Marketing in an Age of Endless Needs

June 24, 2009

518SD2MD3VL._SL500The following is a small piece of dialogue from the movie, Roger Dodger, a favorite of mine.

Roger: You can’t sell a product without first making people feel bad.

Nick: Why not?

Roger: Because it’s a substitution game. You have to remind them that they’re missing something from their lives. Everyone’s missing something, right?

Nick: I guess.

Roger: Trust me. And when they’re feeling sufficiently incomplete, you convince them your product is the only thing that can fill the void. So instead of taking steps to deal with their lives, instead of working to root out the real reason for their misery, they go out and buy a stupid looking pair of cargo pants.

The movie is about a young man learning how to attract women from his womanizing uncle.  Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

In the movie, Roger works for an ad agency.  His belief about advertising is captured in the short back and forth featured above.

What this post is about is the dilemma that this theory creates.  As marketers, are we creating the need that our product fills, or fulfilling an actual need?  This is a question that you need to answer before any type of marketing campaign, because it will change your entire strategy.

If you are advertising something completely new, something we may not even know that we need yet, you are going to have to work a little harder at educating us.  Make us realize the need before you tell us how your product or service fills it.

If you are advertising a new version of an existing product, or some type of upgrade that fulfills an existing need, then don’t bother educating us.  Just sell us straight up.

It makes a huge difference, and could affect the success of any product launch.  So one of the first steps you should take when drafting any new marketing plan is to identify which category that you fall into.  Are you creating a need, or just filling one we already have?

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