October 26, 2022
Go-to-market

How to match your messaging to your customers' needs and wants

Tapping into what customers want can help inform your marketing messages. Learn how to identify and create marketing messages that resonate with your customers.

According to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers[1], one in three customers said they’d leave a brand after only one poor experience. Understanding what customers want is the key to brand differentiation and customer retention. 

This article will walk you through the concept of customer wants and how to use them to craft marketing messages that resonate throughout the buying cycle.

Understanding customer wants is the bedrock of product messaging

Customer wants are at the intersection of their needs and preferences. They are why customers buy your product or service over a competitor’s. 

Customer wants and needs are often used interchangeably, but there are differences. 

Needs satisfy basic functionality requirements like food, drink, safety, and transportation. 

Needs are:

  • Essential. Necessary for survival or preventing adverse outcomes;
  • Universal. Most needs apply to everyone, like water, food, and clean air;
  • Hierarchical. People only reach for higher-level needs once they fulfill lower-level needs. 

Wants reflect desired preferences like a specific drink flavor, car color or model. 

Wants are:

  • Optional. Not necessary for survival;
  • Not universal. Different individuals have different wants depending on experiences, socio-cultural influences, available choices, and additional factors; 
  • Disordered. No hierarchy of wants as they stem from basic needs. For example, wanting to buy a specific color phone arises from needing a cell phone. 

When seeking a product, customers factor in needs and wants, but wants ultimately drive purchase decisions. Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman says in his book, How Customers Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, that 95% of consumers base purchasing decisions on emotions. 

For example, a business owner needs to build a website to market their product. If they want a no-code but customizable drag-and-drop option, they can choose between Webflow, Squarespace, and WordPress Elementor. They select Webflow because of the sleek and cool marketing videos at Webflow University. 

The key to tapping into customer desires is differentiation, or how your product stands out against its competitors. Customers know they can do what they need in WordPress, but Webflow successfully sells the idea that your website can be sleek and cool with their product.

Customer wants don’t stem from a product’s functionality, but from how the company sells the idea of the product to the customer. Successful marketing messages tap into human wants (desires) and sell the idea that this can be you with X product. 

Let’s examine how we can identify customer wants to target our messaging strategies.

How to identify customer wants and use them to craft effective messages

When crafting marketing messages, you must first identify what your customers want, which requires extensive customer analysis. The process includes collecting customer behavior, feedback, and communication data; synthesizing it, and transforming it into effective messages.

Here are ways to capture this necessary customer data:

Collect feedback from your industry

Many companies don’t know what their target market wants. By collecting feedback from industry experts, you can see your messages through the lens of your target customers. 

Industry feedback allows you to see:

  • What your target customers want and how they think;
  • How your marketing and product messages land. 

For example, if you’re in charge of marketing at FeedbackPanda, a tool to help K-12 teachers collect student comments and feedback, you’ll want to know how your message lands with K-12 teachers.

Wynter puts your messaging in front of your target audience and helps you identify issues in your messages so you can fix them and convert more customers. 

Screenshot of Wynter collects feedback that helps identify issues in your messages
Wynter collects feedback from your target audience to see how your messaging resonates

Industry-specific feedback tools like Wynter allow you to collect this target customer data without needing to go directly to your customers for feedback. 

Collect direct customer feedback

Direct feedback from customers can teach you a lot about what they think of your product. For example, if your customers are unhappy with a specific product feature, you can find out why and improve your product’s functionality.

Uber actively uses real-time feedback on drivers to improve their user experience. On their website, they say,

Real-time feedback about drivers means Uber can correct for issues big and small—while ensuring that only the best drivers stay on the road. We take this feedback seriously—depending on the circumstances, rider feedback may lead to deactivating a partner from the system or serve as validation that the driver is providing great service.

They make it easy to leave feedback. After a drive, their app prompts users to give a rating and choose what went right or wrong. 

Screenshot of Uber Feedback
Uber gains insight into what customers want from its service through user feedback

If Uber notices a driver receives too many downvotes, it penalizes the driver, ensuring a positive experience for all customers. 

There are many ways to collect customer feedback. Some include:

Surveys

Customer surveys help companies measure how satisfied customers are with their product or service. You can conduct surveys in person, through the phone, the mail, or an online survey tool like Typeform. 

Keep your questions open-ended to let your customers provide more information, like their feelings and attitudes. 

For example, “what feature do you like best about our product?” allows a more nuanced answer than just “yes” or “no.”

Interviews

Just like surveys, interviews provide a chance for nuanced feedback from your customers. 

Interview your existing customers individually, either in person or through a video conferencing tool like Zoom, so others’ opinions do not influence them. 

Again, keep questions open-ended to prompt detailed responses. Choose questions like: 

  • What do you like about our product? Why do you like it?
  • What problem does our product solve for you?
  • What is missing from our product? 

Open-ended questions force customers to think and formulate a detailed response. 

Social listening

Social listening means following social mentions of your company to identify customer desires. 

To speak candidly, customers often review products on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Tracking their thoughts and frustrations will help you identify unmet needs and areas where your business can improve. 

Tools like Keyhole and Mention monitor social mentions. No matter what feedback method you use, by understanding how your customers use your services and what they like about them, you can provide a better experience in the future.

Analyze your competitors 

A competitive analysis reveals your unique selling point and highlights areas for growth so you can strengthen your messaging. 

Competitive analysis isn’t based on preconceived ideas about what your competitors offer. It’s thorough research to identify who they are, what they’re doing, and how you can do it better. 

Here’s how to identify your competitors:

Understand the types of competitors

There are three tiers of competitors: 

  • Direct competitors offer similar products and target the same customers in the same area your business serves. Identify these competitors through market research, customer feedback, and online communities like Quora, Reddit, or other social channels.
  • Secondary/indirect competitors offer an alternative to your product and target the same customers. They may also offer similar products as yours, but to a different audience. For example, both gym memberships and at-home fitness subscriptions help people reach fitness goals, but aren’t the same service. Identify these competitors through keyword research, analyzing SERP results, and tools like AdWords.
  • Tertiary competitors offer different, but related products and target the same customers in your business's area. While not currently direct competitors, tertiary competitors are close enough to compete, should they expand their business. For example, a women’s clothing store and a women’s jewelry store. Identify these competitors through keyword research, analyzing SERP results, and tools like AdWords.

Run analytics tests

Once you know your competitors, start researching and collecting data for your analysis. 

Many tools exist to aid in data collection and gather key insights on different aspects of your competitor’s marketing strategy. Here are some tools to use for each aspect of your marketing analysis strategy: 

By analyzing the competition, you can create a better strategy and improve your chances of success.

Now you’re ready to turn this research into messages that resonate. 

Use customer wants to create messages that resonate

At this point, you have the necessary data collected from the above steps, so now we’ll use these actionable insights to inform our messages. 

Apply industry feedback to transform messages

With industry feedback from a tool like Wynter, you can discover what your target market wants and how they respond to your marketing and product messages. 

To use it, you will:

  1. Choose your target audience. Wynter provides a validated audience across roles and industries;
  2. Specify your audience details. Filter the audience based on the preferred employee count and industry the people work in;
  3. Configure the test. Choose between a 15 or 30-person panel from your audience;
  4. Set up the test creative. Enter your page’s URL or upload an image;
  5. Customize test questions. Choose pre-made questions or write your own. 

Wynter will test your messages with your desired audience, and you’ll receive results in 12-48 hours. 

For example, Wynter tested the message of Cognism, a sales intelligence platform, with a panel of demand generation leaders. 

Screenshot of Cognism Homepage
Cognism tested their website’s messaging using Wynter

You can view the results here. The panel scored based on two data points:

  1. How compelling was the pitch? 3.2 /5
  2. Clarity: 3.6/5 

Overall, the panel found the headline wording weird, mainly their using “mobiles” to describe “mobile phones.” Because “mobiles” is the European version of the word, it unintentionally alienates their global clientele. 

The group also found the product doesn’t differentiate itself from its other major competitor, ZoomInfo. There are no stats or USPs stated in either the headline or sub-header. 

Cognism can use this feedback to change their messaging. Instead of “mobiles,” the page can say “mobile phone numbers.” They can also include a below-the-fold comparison table to show how their features stack up against competitors’.

Using industry-specific feedback like this allows you to write clearer messages throughout your sales funnel that compel customers to buy from you. 

Write customer feedback into your message

Customer feedback provides valuable insights into your customer’s wants and measures the effectiveness of your messaging and product campaigns. This information can help you optimize your efforts and make necessary changes.

For example, if you are in charge of revamping Mailparser.io’s marketing messages, you can conduct social listening by mining reviews and social channels for customer feedback.

One of Mailparser’s reviews says, “it is the most capable mail parser available.” Mailparser can use this as a CTA on their homepage or one of their features pages or quote it as social proof on their website.  

Another one says, “we estimate that Mail Parser saves us 10+ labor hours per week.” Again, Mailparser can use this somewhere on their website to highlight how much time their automation tool saves. 

Writing customer feedback into your messages helps you become more customer-centric so that you’re always thinking about how best to meet your customers' needs.

Use your competitor data to differentiate yourself

Differentiation is the primary way to align your product with customer wants, so you must pay attention to the competition. The insights you learned from your competitive analysis can help you craft your marketing messages. 

Patagonia is unlike any other outdoor clothing outfitter. The brand is known for its environmental sustainability efforts and used this to their advantage during the Great Recession. 

Consumers were more interested in sustainable goods that could last them through the recession. Patagonia devised the advertisement, “Don’t Buy This Jacket,” talking about the environmental cost of their best-selling fleece jackets. They asked customers to opt instead for a used Patagonia product. 

Despite urging customers to buy used, their revenue grew by 30% to $543 million in 2012, and by 2022, it grew to over $1 billion. 

Screenshot of ad telling people, “Don’t Buy This Jacket”

Unlike its competitors, Patagonia leaned into its key differentiator: sustainability. They gave their customers what they wanted, and their customers responded positively. 

Carefully analyzing your competitors’ data uncovers key factors that influence their success—knowledge you can apply to create a competitive advantage for your business.

Customer wants: the centerpiece of your messages

Needs are essential for a customer to buy your product or service, but they aren’t enough. You need to understand and cater to their wants. Discovering these insights through surveys, message testing tools, and competitive analysis can help you send marketing messages that truly resonate with your target audience.

Know exactly what your buyers want and improve your messaging

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