Advertisers today love to one-up each other with wild, exciting content that goes to any length to attract consumer attention. But will this contest of craziness really turn once-in-a-while customers into die-hard fans? Probably not.
Brands need to stop selling out for first glances and start getting back to the things that create lasting impact. A good first impression provides the initial spark, but what consumers really want to know is how your brand’s offerings help them meet their individual needs.
Sorting the Must-Haves From the Nice-to-Haves
No matter how well-made or ingenious your product or service is, no one will buy it if it doesn’t fulfill a need. Defining a need, however, isn’t as easy as it seems.
Wants and needs in advertising are different from traditional wants and needs. Strictly speaking, anything outside the basic necessities of life isn’t a need. For brands trying to create desire, a need simply refers to something consumers believe will improve their quality of life.
Today, people “need” things like smartphones, Wi-Fi and 24-hour stores, but not too long ago, all of these things were considered luxuries. The consumer definition of a need is constantly evolving, but the principle remains the same: Anything that makes life easier eventually becomes necessary.
Convincing consumers that your brand can deliver on the promise of an easier or more fulfilling life then becomes your challenge. A person might want to make a purchase and may even feel empowered by an ad to do so, but it’s up to you to tip the scale in your brand’s favor to ultimately secure the sale.
Creating the Need
Creating ads that evoke powerful emotional responses can be difficult, especially when attempting to connect the need a product fulfills to your brand specifically. It’s not enough for consumers to love your offering. To ensure long-term success, you have to create loyalists who spread the word about how much better their lives have become since purchasing from you.
To create ads that communicate how your brand can fulfill consumer needs, follow these strategies:
- Map out comprehensive buyer personas.
Who are you selling to? Be as specific as possible with your demographic information, including age, gender, income range and browsing habits. Data is essential to targeted advertising online, and the more you know about the people you’re targeting, the more successful your branded content will be.
- Own the need.
When people need a feature-rich smartphone, they look to Apple or Samsung. When they need a reliable economy car, they buy a Toyota. Think about the need your product aims to fulfill and how your brand demonstrates ownership of that need. What is your brand’s reputation? When people look to fulfill the need your brand addresses, what differentiates you from the competition?
- Identify and address opportunities.
If customer feedback regarding your product indicates you’re not fully addressing the need, re-evaluate your offering. Don’t add features for features’ sake, and don’t advertise more than you can deliver. Identify the gaps — whether they’re gaps in your brand’s offering or gaps in the market as a whole — and gear both your product and message toward communicating to consumers how your company fulfills that need.
How do you transform consumers’ wants into needs, and how do you show them that your brand can fulfill those needs? It’s simple: Identify your audience, and gear your content toward owning the solutions to their problems. Advertising gimmicks will fade with time, but if you can consistently meet needs and deliver on your promises, you’ll create a lasting customer base that will carry your brand message far into the future.
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations and consumer engagement. Mitchell is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is made up of nine global network brands and supported by its specialist/multimarket brands.
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