August 4, 2011

Want vs Need

He was around 30 years old. He had left the company he was working for and established his own. He wanted to meet me after one of my seminars. At the meeting he had a list of questions. “I would like to start with marketing”, he said. “I think to widen the range of my services by understanding what people need.” Just as some young businessmen do, he too was starting with a flawed assumption.

To be successful in marketing you have to give people what they want, not what they need. Would you say that the numerous stuff that are filling many homes today were bought because of a need or a craving? Of course, it is ideal if what you want covers a need. However, due to various personal reasons it is almost impossible to achieve this ideal situation.

This phenomenon is also valid in the negotiations concerning a partnership in your company. The group representing the prospective partner and their company organization are composed of people. And people are liable to mix up the needs and wants in many ways. Thus, you have to first understand what they want and then determine whether or not this want will cover a need after the partnership. If you are somewhat convinced that it will, then the probability of experiencing a problem concerning this issue will be low. However, you have to think long and hard on their proposal if you forecast that it will not.

As our meeting was coming to its end, the young businessman looked at his list and said, “The other questions I don’t need to ask anymore”. He finished by saying, “When the basic assumption is not right, then the questions based on that assumption become meaningless.”

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