[FUEL] The Difference Between Wants, Needs, and Immediate Needs

By Dawn Shuler

As a business owner, your job is to meet the needs of your target market. Easy peasy. Well, the problem comes into play when you have to deal with what your target market wants – what they believe they need. That’s key… what they believe they need and want. Sometimes what your market wants and what you know they need may not be the same.

To be a smart business owner, you need to find the intersection between what your target market believes they need with what you offer. That intersection is the product or service you sell that solves their problems and meets their needs.

Here’s an example. I have a colleague whose business is providing financial foundation for children so that they grow up to be savvy financial adults. Her market is parents: “Hey, wouldn’t it be good if you could teach your child some fundamental basics around finances?”

Great idea and so needed, right?

What my friend was finding was that her target market was willing to spend money, but they were spending money on things like hockey coaches, private piano lessons, summer camp for drama and theater students… because that was the immediate need. Kid is in hockey, wants to do better, so get him a coach. Kid loves the piano, wants to compete, so get her a private teacher. Kid loves drama and theater and really wants to hone his skill; great, put him in summer camp.

Hockey coach, piano teacher, drama camp meet the immediate need. But a financial basic foundation for kids is not going to be an immediate need until the kid grows up to be in his or her twenties and goes, “Uh, I don’t know how to do any of this stuff. What do you mean establish good credit?” It’s not an immediate need right now.

Your job as a smart business owner is to

  1. Understand your target market.
  2. Understand what they need.
  3. Know whatthey want.
  4. Find a way for your product or service to meet an immediate need.

Most people buy based on emotion. They want to relieve a pain, or they want to go after a dream. Your product or service needs to relieve that pain or help them reach their dream.

How do you figure this out?

Well, the first way is ask them. The best way to do that in this day and age is a survey, which is something you should be doing on a somewhat regular basis anyway to really get into the heads of your target market.

What are they thinking? What are the trends? What do they want? What do they need? What are their challenges? What are their struggles? Get from them what it is they say they need, because what they say they need is what they want.

Secondly, as you get into conversations with prospective clients about your upcoming products, services, programs, listen to what they say. What are their questions about your products or services? (Those questions indicate what’s important to them.) If someone doesn’t enroll, ask her, “So may I ask why this program, or product, or service wasn’t quite right for you?”

Third, keep trying. You don’t launch a program, product, service and if it doesn’t do well, as in zero enrollments, you don’t go, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m taking my toys and going home.” Because you never know what the real reasons are. It could be so many things that have nothing to do with you, or your particular offering. You try again, and you tweak, and you see what happens.

Every business owner I know goes through this. I don’t know any business owner who can say, “Every single launch of every single product, idea, and program idea has been a huge success.” No, there have been duds. The key is to keep going even if something seems to be a failure.

Take a deep look at what you’re offering to your target market, and think about how it meets their needs, and how it meets their wants. Because the closer you can get to meeting their wants and providing an immediate need, the more successful you’ll be.