Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as  “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”  In other words, fulfilling the needs of your customer means also satisfying your customer’s wants … the customer’s emotional needs.

The situation of needs and wants, however, is very complicated because the two are so closely tied to each other that it’s sometimes difficult to pry them apart.

For example, a customer may feel he needs a security system for his home in order to feel safe.  He doesn’t really need that system in order to feel safe, but he believes that he does.  The truth of the matter is that the customer needs to feel safe, and he wants the security system to provide him with that feeling.

Another customer may feel she needs to throw a large party in order to feel loved.  She doesn’t really  need that party in order to feel loved, but she believes that she does.  The truth of the matter is that the customer needs to feel loved, and she wants that large party to provide her with that feeling.

Part of being successful in business is being able to sift through what the client or potential client is saying, and identify what the real need is while understanding how the want is the vehicle meant to fulfill that need.

Marketing is the fine art of defining how needs are addressed by the business or entrepreneur while acknowledging and offering to satisfy the wants that drive those needs.  Oftentimes marketing gurus will tell followers to under-promise and over-deliver.  It sounds almost dishonest to under-promise if you know you can deliver, and if you can deliver, it sounds almost impossible to over-deliver if you know you can deliver.

Perhaps a better way to phrase that concept is to suggest that it’s important to not only fulfill the need but to also satisfy the want so you can give customers the best product or service you are capable of delivering.  Customers expect you to give them what they want.  After all, that’s just one of the many reasons you’re in business, right … to give your customers what they want?

But the business or entrepreneur that stands apart from the competition is the business or entrepreneur that not only gives customers what they expect, but to also satisfy the feelings — the needs — that drive the want.

When you keep in mind that a study conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Program in Washington (D.C.) concluded that 50% of dissatisfied customers never complain — and that they tell 10 times as many people about a bad customer experience than satisfied customers who have had a good customer experience — the importance of addressing needs and wants becomes very clear.

The best way to find out what your customer really needs from  your business is to ask pertinent questions and to listen to the customer’s answers as well as body language.  More than half of what you’ll learn about your customer will come from his or her body language while nearly 40% will come from tone of voice and the balance will come from actual words.

While it’s true that you’re not likely to come across a death certificate that says, “Cause Of Death: Extreme Fear Of Being Robbed” or “Cause Of Death: Terrified Of Not Being Loved Enough” far too little attention is paid to contributing factors.  Likewise, if you can pinpoint what the negative contributing factors are — the needs that are overlooked in favor of focusing on the wants — you’ll be in a much better position to provide your customer with a great overall customer experience.

With that at the center of your one-on-one marketing, you can easily make a name as the business or person people turn to when they want exceptional service.  And with your customers passing along impressive comments, marketing your services and products becomes all the easier for you since word-of-mouth is one of the most effective and relied upon methods of marketing in today’s economy.

Elyse Bruce


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