If you have been reading my posts from this series, you'd know by now that a lot of these ideas are based on Schwartz, a legendary copywriter and marketer from the 60s whose ideas are still relevant to this date, and his book "Breakthrough Advertising" is the basis for some great campaigns that we see today.
I get inspiration from his ideas to build frameworks that can be used for our landing pages, email, and ad copy in this digital age.
One such framework is about channeling mass desires that lie at the core of how we want our products to be perceived by its users.
In this post, I'll explain with examples how unicorn digital brands have channeled mass desire from the early stages of their journey and why it was critical for their success. There is a reason why I selected unicorn products which I'll explain later.
First, let me tell you about these rules about mass desires that'll guide this post:
- Marketing is about channeling mass desires: The power, the force, the overwhelming urge to buy something that makes marketing work, comes from the market itself, and not from the copy or other assets. Marketing cannot create a desire for a product. It can only take the hopes, dreams, fears, and desires that already exist in the hearts of millions of people, and focus those already existing desires onto a particular product.
- Two types of forces shape these mass desires: permanent forces and forces of change. Permanent forces are driven by mass instincts that are always the same- like our desire to stay healthy. Forces of change on the other hand are beginning, fulfillment, or reversal of a trend like our desire to own the latest version of a phone.
- The marketer's job is to understand these trends (forces of change): successful marketers detect, inventory, and chart these trends and their direction. Then they use the knowledge of people's hopes, dreams, desires, and emotions and combine it with the product they are trying to sell using a message.
- Pick the strongest mass desire for your product to market it. Every product appeals to 2 or 3 or more mass desires. For example, Uber can help people save time finding a cab, it offers the convenience of hailing a cab anytime, it also provides assurance by showing the price in advance but it will market itself based on only one of these benefits.
- Select the desire that best suits your product using 3 dimensions: the first dimension is urgency, intensity, and degree of demand. The second is the degree of repetition, how frequently people feel the urge. The third is the number of people who feel this desire. In case of Uber, convenience is the desire that fits all 3 dimensions-it's always on top of our mind. If people get used to convenience, they'll always be compelled by it- so high degree of repetition. And it's something preferred by a huge number of users (barring very few who don't use technology or can't afford it).
- Use the functional aspect of your product and tie it to the mass desire. This is where it gets interesting. So far we were focused on the mass desire. Now comes our product. Ignore every physical attribute of our product and think about what it does. Tie that functional aspect to the most important mass desire you have identified for your product using a message. This post will demonstrate several such messages to explain this point.
The reason I selected these examples is to emphasize that these rules apply to digital products as much they do to physical products. So let's start understanding each of these rules.
How to apply these rules: some examples
Example 1: Cloud Hosting From DigitalOcean
So many rules can be overwhelming for a marketer to apply at once. So let's take some examples to apply the framework in a simple manner.
The first 4 rules mentioned above talk about identifying hopes, dreams, fears, and desires shared by a lot of people that are relatable to our product, understand the forces that shape these desires, understand the trend and select the strongest desire.
As an example in digital space, what can be more common than the business of websites? We all know about them and many of us own or manage them.
So let's take DigitalOcean as an example which is a unicorn and leader in shared hosting services.
Two important desires that relate to this product are the security and scalability of our websites. Now, let's take a step back and focus on those two urges. One is hope- scaling the website and another is fear- securing our websites.
Now, securing our assets is a permanent force. This is the very reason we buy car alarms, security cameras, bank lockers, and so on.
Scaling our assets is another permanent force- we all want to grow our businesses, own bigger stores etc.
We have 2 strong desires. Let's find a trend (a force of change) that will help us channel these desires to our product.
The force of change is the willingness of people to have security and scalability in their digital assets with the availability of new technology.
People who were satisfied with shared hosting a few years back are now interested in cloud hosting that offers better security and scalability.
We now have to select one of these 2 desires based on 3 aspects:
- The intensity of the desire?
- Repetition of desire?
- How many people have this desire?
Security of websites is a major necessity, but how many of us would switch from shared to cloud hosting for better security? My guess is very few. It's also not something that we care about frequently.
Security becomes more intense for physical products. For digital product perception of fear is not so intense. It also doesn't concern a huge number of developers.
The other desire is to scale a website or app. It can be an intense desire for websites with high traffic. It's also a frequent desire if the site is gaining traffic on a continuous basis. And since so many of us own websites, it's a desire shared by lots of people.
So an ideal marketing campaign would capture the desire for scalability and connect it to cloud hosting to sell this service. And this is exactly what DigitalOcean does:
Example 2: A course-specific study materials for students: Coursehero
Sometimes a mass desire is shared by hundreds of millions of people and they give rise to Apples and Teslas. And in other cases, they are restricted to a certain profession- as we saw in the case of DigitalOcean that focuses on developers.
But the underlying condition is always a mass desire.
Let's now look at another example, where the product targeted an audience that was much wider in nature- it targeted the student community.
What is it that students want? what are their hopes and fears? their hopes are better grades, approval from teachers, parents. Fears are just opposite- disapproval from peers, parents etc.
And what are the permanent forces and forces of change behind these hopes and fears:
Permanent forces: the desire for quicker and easier methods to learn
Forces of change: use of digital means to learn faster
Let's now see if faster methods to learn, pass the test for a strong desire.
The 3 aspects to test this are:
- The intensity of the desire?
- Repetition of desire?
- How many people have this desire?
Imagine if you were a student and you were promised a method to learn faster and save time with quicker methods- you'd have surely grabbed it. So the intensity is very high.
Repetition is also high because students have many subjects and many exams and assignments. Finally, it appeals to the student community- so the audience size is huge.
So we can now channel the hope of a student to get better grades and impress others to an online repository of study materials by promising them the functional aspect of that repository- saving time while learning. And see how CourseHero the Unicorn in this space did that:
How to use mass desires to sell a product
Your product may address multiple desires but you need to target the most powerful desire and hammer it into your ads, copy, and messaging.
But how will you select one dimension around which your product's messaging should be built? The answer will depend on the 3 dimensions of the desire.
Every desire has 3 dimensions
- First is urgency, intensity, and degree of demand
- Second is the degree of repetition or inability to become satiated
- The third is scope, how many people have this desire
You select the desire that gives you maximum power on all 3 dimensions and channel this desire onto your product.
After you have identified the desire..
After you have identified a desire, the next step is to reinforce it and offer the means to satisfy it. Here come the landing page headlines and the most important messaging in your ad copy.
Your headline's primary objective is to recognize the mass desire, justify and intensify it and direct its solution along one specific path that leads to your product.
Once you get their attention, you start talking about your product, its features, and how these features inevitably satisfy the desire.
You have got a single glance of your prospect- the moment when he or she starts to get a quick perception of your product. If you are able to get their attention, they will read the second line, the third, and so on.
Your prospect's state of awareness
By now you have identified two important aspects of your message.
You start with a market and the product's features that'll satisfy that market- this is going to be your core message.
You now know where you are going to start- the desire, and where you are going to end- the product. The bridge between these two is your landing page.
Your landing page always starts with your market and leads that market inevitably to your product.
Your headline is the first step in that process. That's why it concerns itself entirely with your market. It never even mention your product or its features.
Your Headline Answers 3 Questions
Your headline should be able to answer 3 questions-
- What is the mass desire that creates this market?
- How much your people know today about the way your product satisfies this desire? (state of awareness)
- How many other products were presented to them? (state of sophistication)