The Want Factor: Why Marketing Gets It Wrong Most of the Time

Conversion fails for simple reasons.

What are you buying? The cloth or the fact that you can boast you went to Barcelona?

Labour pains vs. Baby
Which of the two would attract you if you were a woman? You’re saying baby, right?

But look around you.
Every stupid marketer on the planet is selling his product or his service.
They’re talking about the benefits of their service or product.
They’re talking about the process involved in using their product or service.

Let’s get one thing straight.
You’re not selling a product or service.
You’re not even selling the benefits and features.
You’re selling the want factor.

The want factor is something that I want.

So let’s take chocolate.
Am I buying chocolate?
Am I buying the features of chocolate? Or the benefits?
Or am I buying the feeling I get when I eat the chocolate?

And yet, marketers don’t sell what people want
They sell their wonderful process.
They sell the ‘labour pains’.

No one cares about your process. No one cares about how you have this grrrreat marketing program, this wonderful system to write better, this whatever it is you’re selling.

They only, care about the baby.
They only care about profits.
They only care about customers.
They only care about results.

They give a damn about your wonderful method.

So how do we know that to be true?
Give them the customers without the ‘marketing system’.
Give them the results without the ‘wonderful strategy’.
Give them the profits, and watch as they toss you aside, and rush towards the mucho dollars!

But marketers are ignorant. So they continue to sell the ‘labour pains’.

They brand their products and services according to ‘labour pains’.
They write their copy and put in graphics that emphasise ‘labour pains’.
They make their presentations and create their  marketing material around ‘labour pains.’

And customers don’t care. It’s not like customers look at you, and think you’re a dope. They just don’t care about what you’re selling.

Emphasise ‘labour pains’ and you get nothing.
Emphasise ‘baby’ and watch the reaction change instantly.

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  1. says

    I definitely agree with the “baby” (especially since I’ve been through the labor) but so many sales pages and “squeeze” pages have a bit of a snake oil quality to the promise. “Increase sales by 33%”. As much as I love marketing I’m always on the fence on how to sell what I offer so that I feel good about the results and am not over-hyping or setting up unrealistic expectations.

  2. says

    Not necessarily an emotional reason. The Want Factor for ‘Weightwatchers’ is to ‘eat more food’. In fact the want factor is very buried in most cases. And customers won’t admit to it at all. They see it on a sales page, but they won’t admit to it.

    e.g. I won’t admit to wearing that t-shirt (in the photo above) as something I wear to show off that I went to Barcelona. My reason is that ‘I like the t-shirt’. But then if that t-shirt had a city that was highly undesirable, then I wouldn’t wear it, even if it was the very same t-shirt.

  3. says

    I think it’s called an ‘Emotional Reason To Buy Now’ = WANT. Most advertising focuses on the ‘Logical Reason To Buy’ whis is ‘Need’. Emotions are stronger influences than Need.

  4. says

    Another great article Sean.

    So true and to the point. I read so many times in your articles and other business books and blogs I read, about all the benefits and features ‘but’ if the customer doesn’t WANT to buy, they won’t; if the ‘marketing’ fails to target the ‘want’ then they’ll miss the point; if the copy or the graphics or the headlines fail to address the ‘human nature’ and ‘psychology’ attached to the ‘want’ then they’ll fail to get the sale.

    It takes a lot more than a ‘need’ for us to get our credit card out and give money to someone.

    Sometimes we buy when we NEED something; but we are instinctively more likely to buy if we WANT (that product) or we WANT the results that product or service will give us.

  5. Matt says

    Question: What about when you are describing the process of how you go about the process of the product and the selection

    The example being Schlitz Beer and the deep wells, how they steam cleaned or washed the bottles 8 times, etc

    I agree with what you are saying, just trying to incorporate it with what Hopkins says.


    • says

      That’s not the want factor. The Schlitz beer description is a factor of creating ‘information’. The reason why we buy products/services is because of information. When we have lack of information, we choose based on price. The more information you have, the more likely you are to choose the products that give you that information. Claude Hopkins was merely showing you how to get that information across.

  6. says

    Great post!

    can you point to a sales page(s) (besides your own products) that we can refer to as perfect example of selling the baby and not the pain. Any pointers?

    Thanks again!

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