Is “find a need and fill it” bad marketing advice?

in On Entrepreneurship

Just because marketing advice is repeated often … doesn’t make it true.

“Find a need and fill it … that is the key to successfully marketing a business.”Someone who needs to be slapped around a little bit.

Truth is, follow this “find a need and fill it” advice and you are inviting commodity pricing.

Think about it…

People NEED to get their roof repaired … but they WANT on-time, courteous service, clean workers and a guarantee their roof won’t leak again.

People NEED a computer network set up … but they WANT someone who understands their business, will suggest things to make it run smoother before a breakdown prompts it, and won’t make them feel stupid by talking geek to them.

People NEED to have a cavity filled … but they WANT to look good and have a pain-free experience in a friendly office with warm people.

People price shop for what they need, and even that makes them grumpy.

People pay premium prices for what they want, and they love it.

Go to an Apple Store. Play marketing anthropologist. Really observe the people. You’ll “get it” in less than an hour.

Service business, retail business, business-to-business, whatever your business…

…if your business struggles with commodity pricing or if you have to “justify” your price more than once in a blue moon … betcha an iPhone (ahem, another example) you are focusing on what your customers or clients need, and aren’t paying attention to what they want. And that makes them begin to not want you.

Forget find a need and fill it.

Find a want, touch your market … and lead a movement.

I talked about this in today’s Aggressive Marketing & Entrepreneurship Daily Podcast (along with a discussion about when to release version 1 of your product or service, true entrepreneurial competencies, and how to stay passionate and energized in your business). If you haven’t listened yet … what are you waiting for? … I’m on Episode #4. (Subscribe in iTunes.)

{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stone Glasgow February 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Wants and needs are the same thing! There is not objective line between them.

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2 Anonymous October 6, 2010 at 4:59 am

i think what costumer wants is filling more than what is needed. Sometimes a need is also linked to expectations. Customers in a way has a lot of expectations.

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3 Faulvem August 25, 2010 at 12:39 am

I think its alright to find the need and fill it. Of course there is always a process in finding a need. Filling the need is not just to fill the gaps but to really provide a solution- lasting one. I guess that would satisfy your market.

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4 juliacassidy May 13, 2010 at 10:40 am

I totally agree with the message you are conveying in the article. However, and I am also saying this to @Daniel McGonagle when you are running a business, about to be successful selling whatever it is you are selling you will adapt your marketing strategy to whatever is more profitable according to previous experience. And, then, what entrepreneur is going to stop and think if they are actually selling their products/services to those who really need them or that just want them. Or even if they are approaching a hungry market or a non-hungry market that has a lot of unavoidable needs.
It is about selling, and the way in which the marketing strategy will be developed will depend on the nature of the business and on its target market.

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5 Daniel McGonagle September 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm

I agree with this sentiment but I think you're splitting hairs here.

What is meant by that maxim is sell to hungry markets, not non-hungry markets (tire kickers, non-spenders).

However, I do fully agree with you that successful marketing means
“selling stuff that people WANT to buy”, NOT what they need, but what they want.

Knowing that difference makes all the difference :)

Dan

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6 TAP September 17, 2009 at 11:43 am

this is a good theory, but to throw out the “need” part is a mistake in judgement. People make split second purchase decisions using “survival” portions of their brain. Even in more complex sales situations (things that extend beyond survival priniples [aka need] involves a thought process that begins with this section of the brain). So, establishing what it is that pains the person about their current situation and providing a solution that is simple to understand and effective to that pain is very effective, and as always, begins with need over want. Then, move on to the bonus stuff. People who find a need and answer will have success, but their client retention may be impacted when the “next guy” comes in and does the same with additional “want” satisfaction.

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7 Anonymous December 22, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Marketing is ever changing, some people just do not have an ability to think outside the box, while to others this comes easily.

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8 Anonymous December 5, 2008 at 11:14 am

I am always looking for good marketing advice, I will be back to check the site again.

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9 Anonymous December 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm

I am always looking for good marketing advice, I will be back to check the site again.

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10 Anonymous November 28, 2008 at 5:37 am

It’s holiday time and I think businessman are investing in things they can work in this Christmas.

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11 Anonymous November 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm

I believe in the past, companies are built on satisfying people’s NEEDS.  Now, it’s more about WANTS. Whatever thanks Michael to review such an important article.

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12 Anonymous November 15, 2008 at 6:06 pm

I believe in the past, companies are built on satisfying people’s NEEDS.  Now, it’s more about WANTS. Whatever thanks Michael to review such an important article.

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13 Anonymous November 14, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Now that is a very good question, businessmen would then wonder if it is a bad marketing advice or not..Thanks to your post, they will think otherwise.

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14 Anonymous November 15, 2008 at 4:17 am

Now that is a very good question, businessmen would then wonder if it is a bad marketing advice or not..Thanks to your post, they will think otherwise.

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15 Anonymous November 10, 2008 at 8:08 pm

this is a great thinking for investing. i loved reading this post

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16 Anonymous November 1, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Correctly, excellent idea, you are right, buy that goods which is necessary to people.
Thanks a lot for sharing this.

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17 Anonymous November 1, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Correctly, excellent idea, you are right, buy that goods which is necessary to people.
Thanks a lot for sharing this.

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18 Anonymous October 18, 2008 at 10:16 pm

yes, this is a great marketing strategy. i will see how this work when i put it into action

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19 Anonymous September 13, 2008 at 10:27 am

I agree with that, new businesess need to focus on value added not me-too at a low price.
Its a exceptional critique.
Thanks for sharing.

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20 Anonymous September 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Great stuff.. Thanks a lot for sharing this. Much appreciated1

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21 Anonymous September 6, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Great stuff.. Thanks a lot for sharing this. Much appreciated1

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22 Anonymous August 17, 2008 at 5:08 pm

If you can find a need and fill it with exceptional service and more than what was expected, you should do well.

An example I work with is electricity.  Everybody NEEDS it, but if a company also provides rewards and excellent customer service, you fill a need and also provide a premium service.

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23 Anonymous August 17, 2008 at 10:08 pm

If you can find a need and fill it with exceptional service and more than what was expected, you should do well.
An example I work with is electricity.  Everybody NEEDS it, but if a company also provides rewards and excellent customer service, you fill a need and also provide a premium service.

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24 Anonymous June 17, 2008 at 1:01 pm

I am not in favor with “Find a need and fill it … that is the key to successfully marketing a business.” According to me marketing is done to archive the things which are beyond our need and expectation.

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25 Anonymous June 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

I am not in favor with “Find a need and fill it … that is the key to successfully marketing a business.” According to me marketing is done to archive the things which are beyond our need and expectation.

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26 Anonymous May 30, 2008 at 5:12 am

Filling a need is what business is all about. If you have no need why bother. Lots of people see needs that never materialize but in their own minds!

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27 Anonymous May 30, 2008 at 10:12 am

Filling a need is what business is all about. If you have no need why bother. Lots of people see needs that never materialize but in their own minds!

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28 Anonymous May 29, 2008 at 3:24 am

find a need and fill it, sounds feasible enough to be accurate.

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29 Anonymous May 28, 2008 at 5:24 pm

find a need and fill it, sounds feasible enough to be accurate.

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30 Anonymous May 25, 2008 at 2:10 pm

My business philosophy is learn to create ‘win-win situations’. There is no other business I want to be in.
If your business is struggling, here’s a tip: go through several years of invoices and hand pick the very bets win-win situations you can find; deals that both you and your customer where tickled with, then mass produce those win-win situations.  Start with a small affordable ad; test market,,, tweak and expand.

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31 Anonymous May 25, 2008 at 7:10 pm

My business philosophy is learn to create ‘win-win situations’. There is no other business I want to be in.
If your business is struggling, here’s a tip: go through several years of invoices and hand pick the very bets win-win situations you can find; deals that both you and your customer where tickled with, then mass produce those win-win situations.  Start with a small affordable ad; test market,,, tweak and expand.

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32 Anonymous May 20, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Ah, how the era has changed.  I believe in the past, companies are built on satisfying people’s NEEDS.  Now, it’s more about WANTS.  The real question is if people actually understand what they need vs what they want?

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33 Anonymous May 21, 2008 at 2:34 am

Ah, how the era has changed.  I believe in the past, companies are built on satisfying people’s NEEDS.  Now, it’s more about WANTS.  The real question is if people actually understand what they need vs what they want?

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34 Anonymous April 25, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Many needs can be translated into want with the right message sent to consumers.
People may not need to get the latest brand new car every year, but they want to feel secure and successful by showing off to friends they got a new car.

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35 Anonymous April 25, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Many needs can be translated into want with the right message sent to consumers.

People may not need to get the latest brand new car every year, but they want to feel secure and successful by showing off to friends they got a new car.

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36 Anonymous April 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Don’t listen any advices. You have your own had – use it.

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37 Anonymous April 23, 2008 at 9:23 am

Don’t listen any advices. You have your own had – use it.

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38 Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 6:37 pm

The “Find a need and fill it,” approach is great for getting in the door, particularly if you’re the first to knock on the door and the need is urgent…But that approach may not win or retain the long term business.

The simple marketing quip I like and believe remains true: “Find your niche and protect it.”

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39 Anonymous April 7, 2008 at 11:37 pm

The “Find a need and fill it,” approach is great for getting in the door, particularly if you’re the first to knock on the door and the need is urgent…But that approach may not win or retain the long term business.
The simple marketing quip I like and believe remains true: “Find your niche and protect it.”

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40 Anonymous March 23, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I believe in trial and error so. I can’t tell u if thats the way to go

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41 Anonymous March 23, 2008 at 9:38 am

I believe in trial and error so. I can’t tell u if thats the way to go

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42 Anonymous February 16, 2008 at 10:41 pm

Come’on.  Find a need and fill it is what built this country.  Of course, people buy from those they like, and they can only like those who are more interested in them than those people interested in themselves.  I started the Sales Lead Management Association last year and we have great cooperation and traffic.  People tell me this is a good example of find a need and fill it.  At the same time people will only return if there is something of personal value.  75% of the people visiting the site are unique, but 25% are people returning.  Over time the return visitors are going up and we hope they will increase as we introduce more articles press releases, etc.  I guess that is the other end of your equation which says that none of us can deliver just a product without service.

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43 Anonymous February 17, 2008 at 3:41 am

Come’on.  Find a need and fill it is what built this country.  Of course, people buy from those they like, and they can only like those who are more interested in them than those people interested in themselves.  I started the Sales Lead Management Association last year and we have great cooperation and traffic.  People tell me this is a good example of find a need and fill it.  At the same time people will only return if there is something of personal value.  75% of the people visiting the site are unique, but 25% are people returning.  Over time the return visitors are going up and we hope they will increase as we introduce more articles press releases, etc.  I guess that is the other end of your equation which says that none of us can deliver just a product without service.

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44 Anonymous February 16, 2008 at 12:41 am

It is correct whoever said tap into emotions and you make sales.

With me, what I want I still bargain for somewhat. I feel grumpy if I have paid retail for something I want. Maybe its just me. But you are right, I definetly only want to pay bottom dollar for something I NEED.

With the iPhone, it has something magical about it. Some kind of revolutionary product that taps into peoples emotions and thoughts. Which is probably the reason why Steve Jobs has put a premium price tag on it, because he knows he can sell it for a premium.

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45 Anonymous February 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm

The smartest comppanies know it has always been about the emotion.  TAp inot what consumers feel and you tap into a strong emotional core that drives sales. 

Good points.  Enjoyed the post, and put a link to it for my readers on wwww.roundpeg.biz/blog

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46 Anonymous February 2, 2008 at 8:15 pm

The smartest comppanies know it has always been about the emotion.  TAp inot what consumers feel and you tap into a strong emotional core that drives sales. 
Good points.  Enjoyed the post, and put a link to it for my readers on wwww.roundpeg.biz/blog

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47 Anonymous January 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Michael,
It is refreshing to find others like me willing to post our opinions on contrarian topics in b2b sales arena.
“Self Commoditization” is essentially epidemic among most b2b sales people, especially in the industrial services market.
Sales people just don’t seem to make the connection between the nuts and bolts of an opportunity and the emotion that customers have.
While I don’t agree that we should throw out the baby with the bath water, I do advise all my clients to drive their customers’ buying decisions through emotional mechanisms.  Sure…filling the need is important…and justifying your customer’s purchasing decision (and helping him/her to justify it to his/her peers) with quantifiable benefits is important…
…but YES!  NEVER let us forget that all customers, whether they are b2c, b2b, p2p…whatever…ARE PEOPLE…and they all have some level of emotion that top sales people always strive to understand.
Cheers on your contrarian bravery.
I will chime in on this and other similar topics on occasion on my blog if you are interested.  http://www.SalesRaceHorses.com/blog/

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48 Anonymous January 8, 2008 at 7:26 am

Michael,
It is refreshing to find others like me willing to post our opinions on contrarian topics in b2b sales arena.
“Self Commoditization” is essentially epidemic among most b2b sales people, especially in the industrial services market.
Sales people just don’t seem to make the connection between the nuts and bolts of an opportunity and the emotion that customers have.
While I don’t agree that we should throw out the baby with the bath water, I do advise all my clients to drive their customers’ buying decisions through emotional mechanisms.  Sure…filling the need is important…and justifying your customer’s purchasing decision (and helping him/her to justify it to his/her peers) with quantifiable benefits is important…
…but YES!  NEVER let us forget that all customers, whether they are b2c, b2b, p2p…whatever…ARE PEOPLE…and they all have some level of emotion that top sales people always strive to understand.
Cheers on your contrarian bravery.
I will chime in on this and other similar topics on occasion on my blog if you are interested.  http://www.SalesRaceHorses.com/blog/

Reply

49 Anonymous November 19, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Michael,

People buy and pay for solutions to their problem… they don’t necessarily buy something just because they need it or want it. Naturally, price, or should I say ‘value’ will always be an issue with most people but if you have the best solution to solve their problem, then price will be much less of a concern.

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50 Anonymous November 19, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Michael,
People buy and pay for solutions to their problem… they don’t necessarily buy something just because they need it or want it. Naturally, price, or should I say ‘value’ will always be an issue with most people but if you have the best solution to solve their problem, then price will be much less of a concern.

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51 Anonymous May 22, 2007 at 1:17 am

I really appreciate that you differentiate needs and wants. So often they are thought of as opposites when in fact they are just related. I think needs range from need for survival and need for comfort. Wants are more like desires. Somethings we do not need but we desire them. Other things we do not desire but we need them.

Too, often people think that they can enter a field because the item they want to sell is highly desirable and needed. The trouble is that unless they are the only one who knows that the field will be crowded. Sometimes it is better to sell something less desirable but needed – Merck took the “Viagra” effect out of Rogaine because they thought it was undesirable. (And you thought the guy who came up with New Coke made a big mistake.)

New businesess need to focus on value added not me-too at a low price.

Great post!

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52 Anonymous May 22, 2007 at 6:17 am

I really appreciate that you differentiate needs and wants. So often they are thought of as opposites when in fact they are just related. I think needs range from need for survival and need for comfort. Wants are more like desires. Somethings we do not need but we desire them. Other things we do not desire but we need them.
Too, often people think that they can enter a field because the item they want to sell is highly desirable and needed. The trouble is that unless they are the only one who knows that the field will be crowded. Sometimes it is better to sell something less desirable but needed – Merck took the “Viagra” effect out of Rogaine because they thought it was undesirable. (And you thought the guy who came up with New Coke made a big mistake.)
New businesess need to focus on value added not me-too at a low price.
Great post!

Reply

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