Then channel it onto your product
Advertising can’t actually create desire for a product.
That’s a hard but absolutely crucial limitation to understand about advertising.
Ads can only take a desire that already exists in the heart of the prospect, tap into that desire, and then channel it onto the advertised product, service, or brand. It can’t create the desire from scratch.
Not only that, but advertising is even more limited when it comes to need. For most items, the need for the product has to already exist within the circumstances of the prospect’s life. So even if your ads do manage to tap into an existing desire and to direct that desire onto the product, you’ll still have to wait until the prospect’s need for the product arises before the advertising can actually result in a sale.
These are obvious limitations when you’re the buyer. For instance, if you’re not in the market to buy a house or a car or whatever, there’s really nothing an ad can communicate that’ll make you go out and buy one. You’ll have to wait until I’m in the market. And even then, my desire for your house will be based on the degree to which your home taps into already my already existing desires — for a better location, more bedrooms, better amenities and decor, etc. Or, thinking more deeply, for greater convenience, comfort, status, ability to provide for family, etc.
Why are these such important limitations to recon with?
Because once you realize that the prospect’s desire has to already exist, you can figure out which already existing desire has the most motivational “juice” that can be effectively transferred onto your product, service, or brand. In return for recognizing the limitation, you gain a tremendous amount of power. Or to put it more bluntly, once you recognize that your advertising “power tools” have to be plugged in, they start working a lot better.
A nice example of this is the legendary Michelin tagline and ad: “Because so much is riding on your tires.”
Rather than trying to create a desire for a premium tire, this ad plugged into prospective buyers’ already existing desire to protect their families. That desire is then triggered with the picture of the baby and directed onto the tire by hinting at the obvious safety implications of driving on capable (or less than capable) tires.
And while that ad can’t create the need for new tires in the customer, it could — and did! — cause people to choose Michelin once they had a need. That’s when emotional power of wanting to keep their kids safe fueled the decision to pay a bit more for Michelins.
So stop trying to create desire for your product.
And start figuring out how to tap into the desires that your prospects already have.
This article was written by my brilliant partner Jeff Sexton.
Morty Silber, CEO
Mad Strategies Inc.
a Wizard of Ads Partner