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Does Anybody Want What Your Selling?

By Bob McElwain
Posted Saturday, March 22, 2003

Note the wording in this question. Maybe in your view everybody should want it. It may even be true that everybody does need it. But "want" is the key. "Need" won't cut it. Here's an example.

You don't have to look at many websites to discover a lot of them need better ad copy. In fact in many cases there is a desperate need for it. But does this mean they want it?

It's unlikely, for most people go and get what they want. If these webmasters wanted good copy, the'd already have it.

Find a Need and Fill It

This oft repeated suggestion sounds great. It seems obvious that if you create a better mouse trap, people will "beat a path to your door."

Suppose you have come up with a new "best" way to write ad copy. And as above, you've noted lots and lots of sites that need better copy.

So you're in business, right?

Not at all. You've got nothing except an idea. Unproven as well, since it's a new approach.

All About Needs

We all have a great many needs. Some of which we are aware of. Others have not been noted. For example, one may realize they'd do better if they improved their writing skills. It's easy enough to do. Resources abound. Yet we do not turn to this task until we want to.

Better Mouse Traps And Copywriting

While real needs exist for both, there are major problems in trying to sell either.

#1) To the extent people are unaware of their need for your product or service, you must first demonstrate it exists.

#2) Given a person who recognizes a need, it must be converted to a "want" before there can be any significant interest in your offering.

#3) Given a person who wants what you offer, you need only convince him or her your offer beats all others.

Converting Unrecognized Needs To Wants

This is virtually impossible. Forget it. If you plan to offer a writing course, be aware that many people do not believe writing skills matter. It's unlikely you can convince these people they need your course. Or any other.

Converting Needs To Wants

This can be done, but wow, it's a tough sell. And if you're new to business, you are unlikely to make it happen.

How many people who "want" better writing skills actually get to work improving them. Whatever the answer, it's a small number.

Leave such task to the majors and venture capital types. They have tools and resources not available to you. And they can be content with success in only 1 in 10. Odds are, you can not.

More Wasted Effort

Beer companies seem to spend a lot of money convincing the television audience you can't have fun without beer. To me, this seems a total waste, for people have already made up their minds. They either enjoy beer or they don't or they are somewhere between these extremes. And they have their own notion of fun, which may or may not include beer.

Were it my beer I was selling, I'd focus on why mine is the best, why you can count on me, why others do, and so forth. I would talk to those who enjoy beer and ignore all others.

The Most Profitable Target.

Offer something people already want. Now your task is relatively simple. You only need to demonstrate why they should buy your offering as opposed to that of another.

This is how your local hardware store does business. And it's the way of Costco and other major players.

In my consulting work I see site after site created by serious minded people who have overlooked this fundamental: Does anybody want what you're selling? Even if the potential need for what is offered is awesome, converting such needs to "wants" is not likely to happen.

Target Is What It's All About

Forget all who do not already want what you offer. While not ignoring those exploring to see if what you offer will be helpful to them, do not waste effort in seeking to persuade such folks. Instead, focus all on your target, those who arrive at your site wanting what you offer or the equivalent.

Convincing these visitors you offer the best option is sufficient challenge. Convince them your product is the best available, that you are the person they should be doing business with, and that you're prepared to support your product in all ways.

Leave changing people's minds to others.


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