Needs Produce Leads

Whenever it’s time to evaluate an existing ad program or develop a new one, you’ll want to remember this: All advertising is designed to do one of two things — uncover a need or create a want.

Creating a want can be as simple as exposing a prospective customer to an innovative new product and demonstrating its benefits. While you can’t create a need, you can make your customer aware of a need that already exists. How do you go about uncovering or illustrating a need?

I’ll bet you remember the Fram Oil Filters commercial that was on television a few years ago. It showed a mechanic standing in front of an obviously disabled car as he held up the Fram filter and said, “Pay me now, or pay me later.” No one missed the message, and its simplicity was a thing of beauty.

The pay-me-now component was the relatively inexpensive oil change using the Fram filter, and the pay-me-later factor was a very expensive engine overhaul. Most car owners know that they need to change their oil regularly. However, this commercial highlighted the need and offered a great incentive for taking it seriously.

The key to generating leads in abundance is not to look for them directly. Instead, look for prospects with needs you can fill. Find the needs, and you’ll find the leads.

In the remodeling and home improvement business, needs are often easy to spot. Sometimes the appearance of a home will broadcast needs.

Other times, the age of the neighborhood is the factor. Since 20 years is the average serviceable life span of most original roofs, windows, siding and gutters, you probably know just where to look for “needy” prospects in your area.

Pick a neighborhood, and take a walk or a drive. You can quite often spot the needs from the street. Make the homeowner aware of that need, offer a solution, and you’re well on your way to a sale.

How can you make the prospect aware of his need without appearing high-pressure? I suggest using a “rifle,” rather than a “shotgun,” approach. Identify and focus on the most obvious need, whether it’s a deteriorating roof, windows fogged or covered with plastic, or gutters that have turned into planters. Point this out to the homeowner, and be prepared to discuss a solution to that specific need.

You might think the shotgun approach gives you a better “shot” at the prospect. I can understand that thinking. With a shotgun, you don’t need to be a marksman; you know you’ll hit something! The plan, then, is to present the prospect a menu of products, without isolating any one particular need. Unfortunately, this approach can confuse the homeowner, or he may conclude that you are just trying to sell him something he doesn’t need. How convincing can you be if you haven’t predetermined a need?

There’s an axiom about buying real estate that says, “The three most important factors affecting the value of property are location, location, location.” Here’s a paraphrase that applies to generating leads, “The three most important factors that will turn a prospect into a sale are needs, needs, needs.”

Most of the work in generating leads, then, is to understand that prospects have undiscovered needs. When you are able to uncover a need and bring it into focus for the prospect, you have a chance to provide an appropriate solution, make a sale and provide real service.
Look for needs, and you’ll find leads in abundance.

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