Have you noticed this?
Entrepreneurs* love to get on the digital soapbox and yell,
“YOU HAVE TO SOLVE A PROBLEM! IF YOU DON’T SOLVE A PROBLEM, YOU DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS.”
And that’s really confusing — often derailing — for creatives who make things that don’t seem to “solve a problem.”
Because it’s not true! You do not have to solve a problem.
You have to fill a need.
And you don’t have to be explicit about that need.
Here’s an example.
Say my writing’s not flowing today, I’m frustrated with myself, and decide to procrastinate by browsing shopbop. (My favorite fashion site, they send a sticky return label so you don’t even have to print one out, or, rather, tell yourself you’ll remember to print one out later this week and shove the package under your bed, only to be excavated next Spring when it’s too late to send back those jeans that didn’t look good and now you’re stuck taking them to Housing Works, but first trying them on again to see if you were wrong or maybe your body changed and now they look slammin’. Nope.)
So, I’m browsing the “What’s New” section. I see a cute polka dot sweater I definitely don’t need. I have enough sweaters.
But I DO need it, because I want it. I think it would look cute on me. I picture myself wearing it to dinner. I picture it casual with jeans, dressy with a skirt and jewelry.
My need here isn’t really the sweater.
I’m needing distraction, and a little rush of buying something. Acquiring. It’s a drug. An expensive one (but again, the return policy.)
Mostly, I need and want to look good.
And under that is a need for other people to think I look good. Because, unfortunately, I care what they think.
And under that is a need to feel loved and accepted. Which is the ultimate, primal, fundamental human need.
But you’re not going to advertise a sweater by saying,
The Polka Dot Sweater That Instantly Gives You A Feeling Of Attractiveness, Acceptance And Belonging — Without ANY Expensive Procedures Or Years Of Therapy!
IS THIS YOU?
Do you wish you felt more loved?
Frustrated by your current work activity and want the instant gratification of purchasing a luxury item?
Want in on the trend of polka dots, so you don’t feel left out?
Feel you could use a sweater that gets noticed at dinner parties?
Even though you have enough sweaters, do you crave that “new sweater” feeling?
Afraid, in the most primitive part of your brain, that you’ll be kicked out of your tribe and left for dead to be eaten by mountain lions?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Finally, there’s a solution…
Introducing, the Potentially Dressy Polka Dot Sweater!
Yahno. You can tell me it looks great with my favorite ripped jeans and a pair of hoops (or show me) and I’m in. Because I just want it. I want it enough to need it.
There are all kinds of needs (dressed as wants) that sell paintings, earrings, designer handbags, makeup, statement t-shirts, TV shows, Broadway plays, gifts, books, and cupcakes.
We want/need to:
- Show we have great taste
- Be entertained/ engrossed
- Escape reality
- Be delighted and surprised
- Be “in the know”
- Feel attractive, stylish, cool
- Feel uplifted and inspired
- Make a statement
- Feel generous
- Stand out from the crowd
- Feel perfectly dressed for an event – want an outfit that “nailed it”
- Get compliments, feel validated
- Look at something pretty
- Reward ourselves
- Put something delicious in the pie hole
Sure, not filling that need is a “problem,” but not a problem like “I have an ugly, itchy skin rash” or “Bookkeeping is such a headache” or “Burglars hit the house next door and we need a better alarm system.”
Wanted to let you know, if you make something that’s simply meant to bring joy and stir desire rather than “solve a problem,” that that’s not a problem.
Do you make or sell something that doesn’t “solve a problem”?
If so, do you get tripped up by the common marketing wisdom? Or do you feel like it’s an easy sell?
And, who’ve you seen in the creative/ecommmerce/luxury/art space doing it right?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
ps – *By entrepreneurs, I mean people in the online space. Course creators; thought leaders; authors; strategists; coaches; coaches who refuse to call themselves coaches and instead call themselves Lifestyle Designers, Mindset Architects, Empowerment Catalysts, Personal Greatness Optimizers, Unfuckwithability Consultants, Inner-Goddess Unleashers. This fuzzy-edged industry really needs a name.
pps – In The Copy Cure, we go deep into how to write copy when you don’t address a “problem” or “pain point.”
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