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Wants vs. Needs: Is the Debate Even Necessary? [The Weekly Wrap]

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And that’s a wrap of the week ending July 31, 2020

This week I’m asking why anyone needs content marketing anyway. I talk with marketing professor Marcus Collins about businesses making it rain for content marketers – and about culture in content. And I share an article packed with ideas for making your content more engaging.

Listen to (or watch) the Weekly Wrap

Our theme this week is wants vs. needs. In the immortal words of The Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes, well you might find / You get what you need.

Let’s wrap it up.

Listen to the episode (time stamps apply to the audio version):

Watch it, too:

One deep thought: Are you selling what people want (or need)? (3:08)

Do you sell products that everyone wants, but no one needs – like art, cosmetics, gym memberships, alcohol, restaurants, social media apps, or other discretionary purchases?

Or is your product or service a utility ­– something people need but don’t really want to purchase, like health care, electricity, fuel, insurance, access to living space, or other non-discretionary purchases?

Should these two categories be marketed differently?

A discussion about needs vs. wants naturally leads us to philosophy, possibly a good bottle of Bordeaux, and a drawing of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most people would agree on the layers of needs (physiological, safety, love, esteem). Discussion of the top layer of self-actualization – the things that fuel one’s potential – might take longer (and maybe involve more wine), but I believe ultimately, we will conclude that self-actualization is a need.

Marketers sometimes believe we design products and services to fulfill needs and we differentiate by fulfilling wants. For example, our customers need basic insurance. But they buy our insurance because we offer more customized plans to meet our customers’ desired lifestyle.

But aren’t those “wants” just components of need? Aren’t they there to help people fulfill a better version of their potential self or future?

Of course, consumers aren’t always correct. They may not feel more self-actualized by buying the fully loaded potato skins instead of the simple plate of vegetables. But that doesn’t make the food any less of a need. It’s the act of consuming – not the product itself – that satisfies the emotion.

In this segment, I explain why asking if we should market differently to people who need our product than we do to people who want our product is the wrong question. And I let a quote from Abraham Maslow himself explain why.

Should you market need vs. want products differently? That’s the wrong question, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

This week’s person making a difference in content: Marcus Collins (7:42)

My guest this week is marketing lecturer Marcus Collins, who studies the effects of cultural contagion on consumer behavior at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. He translates these cultural lessons for brands wishing to create contagious marketing campaigns that extend across both the online and offline worlds of social. Acknowledged for his strategic and creative contributions, he’s an Advertising Age 40 Under 40 recipient and a Clio Award winner who has launched campaigns like Cliff Paul for State Farm, Made In America Music Festival for Budweiser, Hello Brooklyn for the Brooklyn Nets, and Eggo + Netflix’s Stranger Things conquest.

Before his time in advertising, Marcus worked in music and tech. He was co-founder of Muse Recordings, he led iTunes + Nike sport music initiatives at Apple, and ran digital strategy for Beyoncé.

While we didn’t get to Beyoncé in our chat, we did talk about culture and content, and some newly released stats (gathered in 2019) that show content marketing spending went way up over the past two years and was expected to continue to rise.

Here’s a peek at what Marcus had to say:

I’ll see an ad and make a meme about the ad. That’s what gets spread, not the ad. We communicate through cultural texts, be it memes, videos, images, and the like that we propagate from person to person to help us get a sense of what is acceptable within our communities, our networks, our people. We negotiate and construct what is cool, what is not cool, what is in, what is out, based on these atomized objects – content. For marketers to just now realize, “Hey, we should probably double down on this,” it’s like, “What have you been doing all this time?”

Memes, videos, and images are cultural texts to get a sense of what’s acceptable within our communities, says @marctothec via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

Listen in, then learn more about Marcus:

One content marketing idea you can use (30:05)

The one article I’d love for you to take another look at this week is one of the oldest I’ve featured, taking it back 10 years: 10 Ways to Make Content More Engaging.

The article by Michele Linn includes many wonderful perspectives by content marketing thought leaders and there are some fun ones. One of my favorites is from Patsi Krakoff who talks about how content needs to appeal to an emotional pathway, from the negative (a pain they’re experiencing) to a positive (imagining a better future) to rational/logical (analysis of facts) through curiosity, desire, objections, and scarcity to trust and, finally, a call to action.

#Content needs to appeal to an emotional pathway, says #PatsiKrakoff via @CMIContent. #WeeklyWrap Click To Tweet

There are many interesting ideas in this oldie but goodie. You’ll find them worth your time.

Love for our sponsor: Sitecore

As the well-known marketing saying goes, “Content is king.” And with organizations having to rely on their digital channels more than ever these days to reach customers, creating and publishing effective and engaging content has taken on a whole new level of importance.

Sitecore recently held its inaugural Virtual Marketer Day, and one of the tracks was dedicated to helping organizations better manage their content – from beginning to end.

There is a new post-event guide titled “Understanding the end-to-end content lifecycle,” with practical steps you can take to optimize your content engine and personalize digital experiences for your customers.

Download the guide today.

The wrap-up

I hope you’re finding that this show meets your wants and your needs. I’m always striving to improve it. If you have thoughts about what you’d like to hear about or guests you’d like to hear from, let me know in the comments. And if you love the show, I’d sure love for you to review it or share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute.