We all long for something.
- Love that will last.
- The ability to influence people.
- Scenic vacations.
- Financial, political, or psychological independence.
- Less anxiety.
- Stunning creative achievements.
- Organizational excellence.
- Relief from the sting of rejection.
- World-class athletic performance.
- Retaliation for when we are wronged.
- Invitations to the most popular parties.
- A savings account that never runs out.
- An impossibly broken family finally reunited.
- Recognition for your hard work.
- A Cosmopolitan body.
Marketing that actually works hinges on connecting your product to one of these mass desires.
When that is done — when you’ve convinced people that you can satisfy their longings (the deeper, the better) — then people will not only fall in love with and buy your products, they will become unstoppable evangelists as well.
Let me show you how to get there …
1. Choose the most powerful desire
Every mass desire has three components.
- Degree of urgency, intensity, or demand to be satisfied: Finding a cure for bad breath is not as urgent a matter as not being able to breathe. So an asthmatic’s desire for an inhaler is going to be stronger than a playboy’s desire for a breath mint. Same is true for curing a migraine versus just a minor headache. The greater the degree of urgency, intensity, or demand you can channel into your product … the stronger the desire.
- Duration: Products with a high degree of staying power, repetition, and inability to be satisfied will perform better than products with lower degrees. Basically anything that plays with your pleasure and pain levels. Cigarettes fit this category (mostly because they are addicting): they are hard to quit, you want one right after another, and you need stronger ones to satisfy that original desire. You also don’t need cigarettes. You do, however, need water. Three days without it and you’d die. But that doesn’t apply to most of us in the western world. Now water-bottling brands must compete on taste, design, or story.
- Scope: How many people share this desire? For instance, how many men will pay to have premium hygiene products sent to their home? Birchbox for Men is hoping it’s enough. Apple bet big on the iPod — and cleaned house. Dean Kamen bet big on the Segway PT — and lost. Channeling mass desire doesn’t require that the general population love your product … just massive enough to be profitable.
Here’s the bottom line in this step: your product should appeal to all of these components … but only one fulfillment of mass desire can dominate in the end. Only one can sit in your headline. Only one is the key to unlock the full profit potential of your ad.
Which desire you choose is the most important step. Get it wrong, and even the greatest copy won’t matter. Get it right, however, and the world can beat a path to your door.
As Eugene Schwartz said in Breakthrough Advertising,
Tap a single overwhelming desire existing in the hearts of thousands of people who are actively seeking to satisfy it at this very moment.
Here’s what that looks like.
2. Satisfy that desire in your headline
Your headline is the bridge between your customer and your product. And there are basically three ways of channelling that desire in a headline.
One, if your prospect is aware of your product and knows that it can satisfy his desire, then state your product in the headline. The New York Times is a household name with high levels of credibility. Stating the name alone endorses the product. But we also know what the NY Times provides, so, in this case, just get to the offer.
The second way to channel that desire is if your customer doesn’t know about your specific product, but only of the desire itself … so your headline starts with the desire.
Let me get this straight: without the image the headline is confusing. The drinkers out there would be appalled at the thought that it would take 30 days to get drunk. Who wants that?
But with the image we know the meaning of the ad immediately.
However, you’ll notice the product isn’t mentioned. Not until you drill down into the copy. Just the desire is mentioned. For example:
- The desire to be unapologetically attractive and irresistible … where women drop their jaws as you peel off your shirt in the grocery store parking lot (because, you know, it’s really hot outside).
- The desire to be strong (lifting heavy office furniture or fighting anyone you want).
- The desire to be athletic (killing it in the Ironman or some spontaneous pull up contest).
- The desire to be confident (strolling right up to any woman to ask for her phone number, demanding that raise from your boss).
- And the desire to be healthy (living longer, fewer medical bills).
But the strongest desire is this: I am a wanted man because of my jack’d up chest and ripped torso. Thus, the picture. (In case you were wondering, my mind goes numb thinking about the amount of effort you have to put into getting a body like that.)
Finally, the third way of channelling desire is if your customer doesn’t know about your product or the desire. Rather, your customer is seeking a general solution to a general problem.
If that’s the case, then you start with the problem (use the Problem-Agitate-Solve formula) crystallizing it into a specific need.
Here the product isn’t named and your desire is nothing more than a vague sense that something is wrong.
Could it be all this talk about NSA spying? Or Google knowing everything I search for? Should you be concerned? Is it a problem that your privacy is being threatened? If you happen to think so, then you are likely to be interested in the free reports Stansberry offers.
3. How your product’s performance satisfies that desire
Once you’ve determined the strongest desire, your next step is to figure out which product performance best satisfies that desire. Products have two existences:
- Physical: Shape, size, weight, color and so on. The object.
- Functional: What the product actually does. Its performance.
Keep in mind people don’t buy the physical. They buy the function. The value to the customer is in the 3/4 inch hole, not the cordless drill.
What this means is you have to emphasize the benefits in your headlines and copy. And even though this is a long-standing truism, people still ignore it.
Take this screenshot from the home page of the AR.DRone 2.0, for example:
People don’t buy 3 extra sets of colored propellers, two high-density batteries, or a flight recorder using 4 Gb of Flash memory. Those are features to justify the benefits (which I’ll explain later).
People buy the product in action. For example, in this case, you would list performances and match them to the mass desires it satisfies.
- Novelty: Innovators and early adopters have eaten up the AR.Drone 2.0. They want to maintain the image of the cool kid on the block. … neighbors gathering around as you fly this thing down your street. Or the reaction you might get if you release one of your Drone videos on YouTube. And holy cow, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN DRONE (which might actually turn off women, by the way).
- Economy: This is a toy that costs three hundred dollars. There is nothing economical about it. At all.
- Dependability: If you are a novice flying a drone, then the only thing you can depend upon is crashing the daylights out of this machine. Thank goodness the indoor foam protectors are only $45 to replace.
- Value: See “Economy.”
Let’s dissect another product — the more common car — say the 2013 Volvo S60 to see these steps played out in action.
What are the performances that satisfy consumer desires when it comes to cars?
- Transportation: Cars are perhaps one of the most efficient, affordable, and fastest methods of getting from one place to another. Volvo doesn’t have a lock on this, however. They just promise to do it more safely.
- Safety: The S60 has one of the highest safety records in a crash test … whether from a front, side, or rollover collision. One of the reasons for this is that there are air bags everywhere in this car. In front of you, above you, beside you. Not to mention the reinforced doors.
- Performance: The turbocharged five-cylinder engine distributes power to four wheels … making the car go faster while you maintain superior control. Drive this car and you aren’t just a prude … you are a speedy prude!
- Reliability: The NHTSA hasn’t recalled any cars or parts on the S60, but J.D. Power gives the car a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5, meaning the car is about as reliable as any other car out there.
- Novelty: Own an S60 and you own a unique Swedish car that costs — on the low-end — around $30,000. Get a souped up version and your pals at the country club will let you play tennis with them (or at least let you fetch their balls).
- Recognition: Because of its emphasis on safety, Volvos appeal to the safety-minded among us. The conservative, who like to telegraph their conservatism.
- Value: Kiplinger voted the S60 as having the best resale value for a car in this price range.
But here’s the deal. Only one desire can dominate. If you were assigned to the S60, what desire would you appeal to in you headline?
BONUS: What to do with physical features
Here’s where we are so far: use product performances (function) to appeal to the emotions of your customer — especially in the headline.
Use the features to justify those functions and desires (and never put physical features in a headline).
For example, features …
- Justify the price: The S60 is expensive. No surprise given that it is loaded with additional safety features like Tunnel Detection, which automatically turns on your headlights when you enter a tunnel. That feature leads to additional safety.
- Document performance quality : A free content library like MyCopyblogger contains over 100,000 words in 14 ebooks. Those features will never sell. What will sell is an offer to become a smarter content marketer … an expert people seek out. The features prove we can deliver on the promise.
- Sharpen your customer’s picture : Details add to the image of your product’s performance in the customer’s mind and grow their desire for that product. This is the “paint a picture” part of the four Ps. The more benefit-laden features Google shares for its Nexus tablet, the greater the desire.
- Demonstrate differentiation: Features are also a great way to demonstrate how a product is different from competition. Take a home with two kitchens, for instance. The normal approach is to promote this property as a potential rental or mother-in-law suite. But that will get lost in the hundreds of similar homes. Instead, list out all the possible ways this home could be used — two single-parent families with low-incomes, married twins and their spouses , military families combine to aid one another when partners are on deployment — and you make this home seem very different.
Over to you …
Each product promises to satisfy dozens of longings. But only one performance will unlock the door to channeling mass desire onto your particular product.
Your job is to find the dominant performance that will do that.
Tease it out in your research … and then convince your audience that that dominates performance (and the consequent satisfaction of that desire) comes from your product … and your product alone.
*With grateful thanks to Eugene Schwartz, who has given us all many powerful ideas to expand and execute on.