Need vs. Want

I need cash. I want a career. I need to finish the project. I want to blow their socks off. I need food. I want a grilled PB&J.

What we need and want are often in conflict. It’s a constant battle of compromise. We’re always blurring that line to justify our decisions. The risk is that we get caught up in wanting what we don’t need. Stop me if that just flew over your head.

Ok, maybe this will help. When you find yourself saying, “I need…,” take a second to ask yourself the following question: how specific is that need? For example, “I need new clothes” is pretty nonspecific — only specific enough to keep you from buying motor oil. Most people, including myself, will make that statement more specific by exclaiming, “I need pair of J.Crew Broken-in Chinos.” What I really mean, deep down, is I “Want” J. Crew Chinos. I “need” a nice pair of pants for work. Is any of this making sense yet?

Advertising/Marketing is the business of converting needs into specific wants. So what I just said above is almost heresy. But in my defense, to be any good in this business, you better know what you’re doing — creating want. Once you accept that fact, you give yourself permission to have big ideas.


Thoughts? Questions? Stories? Let me know.




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