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How to be a Marketing Genius, Part II

Skilled marketers are consistently among the highest paid individuals in any industry. They earn high salaries, extraordinary bonuses, and the respect and admiration of colleagues and competitors. Marketers who master their trades are all but guaranteed a life of wealth, security, respect, and satisfaction.

Today, I am going to show you how you can become a marketing genius by learning three of the fundamental principles behind the psychology of selling. The First Principle: The Difference Between Wants and Needs In today’s consumer-driven economy, it’s easy to mistake a want for a need.

How many times have you heard one of the following statements:

* “Sally needs a new wardrobe. The clothes she’s wearing make her look silly.”

* “John hates the way his hair looks. He says he needs a better barber.”

* “I simply have to have that new handbag!”

* “We need a bigger house.”

* “We need a nicer car.”

* “We need a bigger lawn.”

None of those things are needs — as in, something you can’t live without. Our needs are really few and simple. Air, water, food, shelter, transportation (sometimes), and clothing (usually). Everything else we buy is based on our wants. And even when it comes time to purchase needs, like food and clothing, our buying decisions are usually based on wants. (We want a certain type of bread, a specific brand of clothes, a house in a particular style, etc.) When you realize that your customers don’t need your product or service, you recognize that the way to convince them to buy it is to stimulate their desire for it.

The most effective way to do that in your advertising is to:

* Promise your prospective customer (usually implicitly) that taking a certain action (buying your product) will result in the satisfaction of a desire (want).

* Create a picture in your prospect’s mind of the way he will feel when that desire is satisfied.

* Make specific claims about the benefits of your product and then prove those claims to your prospect.

* Equate the feeling your prospect desires (the satisfaction of a want) with the purchase of your product. The media doesn’t matter.

Wherever you find your market — on television or radio, in magazines or newspapers, at home reading his mail or on the Internet — the basic process is the same. The moment you forget this first principle — that you are selling to wants rather than needs — your marketing will fail. The Second Principle: The Difference Between Features and Benefits Advertising teachers like to use the example of a No. 2 pencil to illustrate this important principle.

A pencil has certain features:

* It is made of wood.

* It has a specific diameter.

* It contains a lead-composite filler of a certain type.

* It usually has an eraser at the end.

These features describe the objective qualities of the pencil. So if buying were a rational process, selling would be a matter of identifying the features of your product. But we already know from our first principle that buying is an emotional process. And that means you must express the features of your product in some way that will stimulate desire. You do that by converting features into benefits.

For example, the features listed above might be converted into the following benefits:

* Easy to sharpen.

* Comfortable to hold.

* Creates an impressive line.

* Makes correcting easy.

Of course, this is only the tip of the beneficial iceberg. I’ve conducted workshops on features and benefits using a No. 2 pencil that have resulted in the identification of more than 200 benefits. Mastering the skill of converting features to benefits is essential for every future marketing genius.

The Third Principle: The Difference Between Benefits and Deeper Benefits The reason some marketers do a better job than others is because they understand the difference between benefits and deeper benefits. In our example, for instance, what might be the deeper benefit of having a pencil that sharpens easily? To figure that out, the master marketer asks himself, “Who is my target customer? And why, exactly, does he want little things (like sharpening pencils) to be easy?”

Of course, there’s no single answer to such questions. It depends entirely on who that target customer is. If he’s a busy executive, his deeper reasons are going to be different than if she’s a busy housewife. Perhaps the executive wants more ease because he’s buried in minutia. Perhaps he senses that if he could just get a little more spare time in his day he could catch up with his work. And if he could finally get his inbox conquered and his e-mail cleaned up, perhaps he could write that memo or make that phone call that would boost his career.

The master marketer who understands these deeper motives — the desire to be more successful at work, for example — can create stronger sales copy because he will be appealing to emotions that are closer to his customer’s core desires. The example I’m using is, admittedly, farfetched. But I’ll continue to push it to make the point. Our master marketer has dug a bit below the surface now. He recognizes a deeper desire than merely ease and he’s going to appeal to it. But before he does, he stops and deconstructs the deeper benefit.

He asks himself more questions: “Why does my customer, this busy executive, want more success? Is it because he wants a better salary? And if so, why is that? Is it because he wants a nicer home? And if he wants a nicer home, why? To please his family? To impress his friends? And why does he want to please his family and impress his friends?” The marketer who can figure out the answers to questions like these holds his prospect’s heart in his hand.

(Ed. Note: Michael’s essay today was taken from “Automatic Wealth: 6 Steps to Financial Independence,” the book he is writing for John Wiley & Sons. It was also part of his presentation at this year’s Wealth-Building Bootcamp. If you couldn’t attend the Bootcamp, you’ll be happy to know that all of the sessions were professionally recorded and are now available on CD or VCR. If you’re interested in learning how you can get the complete ETR Home Study Package delivered to your door — including the handbook, the handouts, and the PowerPoint presentations that in-person attendees received — click here)