Creating Desire and Marketing to Everyone

I wrote in yesterday’s post, What is Marketing, that marketing is about creating desire. That’s a broad statement that needs to be clarified. The debate has raged for years about marketing’s ability to create a desire, or to cause people to need something. I stand firmly in the camp that says you cannot create artificial desire, meaning you cannot cause people to want something that they don’t really want. So what the heck was I writing about yesterday?

Flickr photo courtesy of o5com

What I meant was that marketing is tapping consumers’ internal needs and convincing them that your stuff will satisfy their desire. You cannot cause people to want something they really don’t want. You can talk until your blue in the face, but you will not be able convince someone who hates technology that they need to spend $600 on an iPad. Even with the most creative campaign and the snazziest Facebook page, you won’t convince a capitalist to become a socialist.

Sometimes, I’ll ask a business owner, “Who are your customers?” And they will often reply, “everyone.” That’s just not true. Only people that have desire for the need you can fulfill are your customers. You can waste a lot of money marketing to everyone. Apple knows this, and so they don’t try to sell iPads to people who won’t buy them. Politicians know this too. That’s why they’re always playing to their base.

So, when I wrote yesterday that

Marketing is about creating desire.

I really should have said,

Marketing is about influencing desire.

Are you trying to create desire, or influence it?

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