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The other day I was watching the movie Robots with my kids, and one of the key characters utters the phrase…

“See A Need, Fill A Need”

If you’re not familiar with the movie, here’s the clip.

And while there’s no denying that’s good advice for product development, that’s horrible advice for anybody trying to persuade people to buy their product.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Let me illustrate something you’ve probably noticed…

“Isn’t It Crazy How $1000 iPhones Stop Working After One Year?”

aspirational marketing

Said nobody ever.

But that would make more sense, wouldn’t it?

It would at least explain why every September millions of people anticipate with excitement the opportunity to shell out some dough for a new iPhone.

$1000 worth of dough…


All for a piece of aluminum and glass that is only slightly better than the $1000 piece of aluminum and glass they bought the previous September.

How Can Your Business Capture That Level Of Excitement?

Everybody could use the level of fanaticism Apple enjoys from its customers–this is what made them one of the world’s biggest companies.

But you’ll never get there by seeing a need and filling a need.

Consider Apple’s iPhone: Is it able to do things other smartphones can’t?

Does it fill some particular function-gap that exists in the smartphone industry?

No, not really.

If you’re in doubt, check out OpenSignal’s infographic on how many different Android smartphones are out there, all competing with Apple for market-share.

(Each tile represents a different Android phone model):

It’s hard to imagine the iPhone fills a gap these 18,796 Android phones don’t.

So how can we explain what’s going on with Apple, or with other products whose fans defy logic with their level of ferocious loyalty?

I have an answer that might surprise you, but before we get there, let’s talk about what most businesses do.

This Is What Most Businesses Get Wrong

When most businesses market their products, they spend way too much time selling the wrong thing… the product.

Here’s How Most Companies Sell Their Products…

Let’s look at some non-smartphone examples.

The first example is taken from the Macy’s order page, and is how most companies showcase their products. This is a Calvin Klein blazer available at Macy’s.

uninspired copywriting

The page is basically saying, “Hey folks, we have jackets. They’ve got two buttons and stuff. Give me money if it fits and you want it.”

That’s fine.

It’s just fine.

It’s what everyone does.

Here’s A More Inspired Approach…

Why stay with the boring, mooing herd when you can really stand out?

One of my favorite characters from Seinfeld was J. Peterman… I loved the character because the descriptions in the real Peterman catalogues jump off the page.

(Imagine that: copy so good that you earn a legendary place in one of the most successful network shows of all time.)

If you want a stark difference with Macy’s page, J. Peterman’s copy describing its version of the two-button blazer couldn’t be a more jarring contrast:

copywriting with emotional appeal

Why stay with a boring description when you can make the product about the buyer?

Few things are as powerful and memorable as stories, and J. Peterman’s copywriters are masters.

Macy’s is peddling jackets… Peterman is offering dreams.

What do you think is more powerful?

People Are Interested In Themselves…

I’m going to be blunt and share the cold hard truth: people don’t care about your product.

People want to know what they’re going to get out of it.

When thinking about a purchase, deep down prospects are asking themselves:

  • Will I be cooler?
  • Will it make me richer?
  • Will it make me look like I’m richer?
  • Will I look smarter?
  • Will I look–or feel–sexier?

Thinking about our J. Peterman example: if you can insert an interesting aspirational story about a powerful, successful, confident woman, and somehow link that story to wearing a particular jacket, do you think the woman who buys that garment is going to feel a little different when she slips that jacket on?

Will the story that grabbed her attention pop into her head as she steps out of the car and walks into the Monday morning meeting, all eyes on her as she reaches the head of the table?

You bet it will.

Whatever desires live deep down and are rarely let out to see the light of day… the desires that are never shared with friends or spouses… will turn someone into a rabid action-taker if the flames of those hidden ‘wants’ are fanned in the right way.

That’s what Peterman is doing in his two-button blazer description. That’s what Apple masters in its long, choreographed product launches.

And therefore we’re going to create a new mantra…

See a want, fill a want.

So easy…

So simple…

So rarely done. (Until now!)

So What Next?

As we saw with the Macy’s example (and countless others if you take second to think about it), businesses tend get it wrong and market to a client’s needs. They flop their products out there, slap on a description and a price, and send traffic to the page, crossing their fingers that this will be their next big hit.

Knowing that the greatest thing you can deliver is a vision of how your clients see themselves as they hope to be… that’s where the power is.

So, here’s a quick breakdown of how to get this done:

  1. Talk to your customers and prospects.
  2. Understand your clients at a deep, emotional level.
  3. How can your product help your clients become (or move toward) the aspirational vision they see for themselves?
  4. Create sales copy for your product based on the answer to item 2.
  5. Deliver what your clients want… AND what they need.
  6. Keep talking to your clients and prospects… rinse… repeat.

If it’s an interesting enough topic for you, I’ll go in-depth into the steps in the above checklist. Just remember, most people think of themselves before anything else, so needs often play second-fiddle to wants. Just keep that in mind when you’re developing your marketing campaigns, web copy, and email sequences, and I promise you’ll notice a difference.

So, how will playing to your clients wants change how you approach sales copy?


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