Time, love, money: People only want 3 things

Whether it’s B2C or B2B, people only want 3 things.
Good marketing is just about demonstrating how your product delivers.

What people want


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Whether they’re at home or at the office, making purchasing decisions for themselves or their company, people all want the same 3 things:

  1. To make or save money
  2. To do less work (or save time)
  3. To look like a star

In other words, everyone wants money, time and love.

Great marketing is really just about demonstrating how your product, service or brand will deliver against one or more of these things.

Making or saving money

This is the easy one:  Demonstrate how your product or service is cheaper, or will save the consumer money in the short- or long-term, and you’ll have lots of customers.  This is why Brita focuses on how many bottles of water you won’t have to buy, rather than on the quality of the charcoal in their water filters.  Works in all settings (i.e. whether the consumer is making buying decisions in a work environment, for family, or for themselves).


Doing less work or saving time

If you’ve ever had to sell anything in a corporate environment, you know that telling a roomful of people how your product or service is going to make their day-to-day lives easier by cutting their workload in half is enough to get you halfway to the close.

And of course I don’t have to tell you that 95% of household product advertising is dependent on the old ‘Our product will save you so much time!’ chestnut.  Like this one:

(Though I can’t help thinking:  If using a dryer bar instead of dryer sheets does, in fact, leave you more time to “think about what your boys are doing”, you probably weren’t using the dryer sheets properly in the first place.)


Looking like a star

This one is also known as ‘getting love/admiration/recognition’.

In B2B marketing, this translates to a message like “If you use our product or service, you will definitely earn the admiration of your peers, the respect of your manager, and probably a promotion and a raise!”  (We’ve all heard the old saying, “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM…”, which is a direct reference to the fact that buying decisions in a corporate environment tend to be made not on a totally rational basis, but on how those decisions will reflect on the decider.)

In B2C marketing, this is really where ‘branding’ comes in to the picture, and we need look no further than the huge lineup outside of Tiffany & Co. at Yorkdale Mall this past Christmas Eve.  I wish I’d gotten a picture, but trust me when I say that by 9am on December 24th, there were 250 men in line outside Tiffany’s. 

Nothing in Tiffany’s was going to deliver against #1, and standing in line with 250 people definitely isn’t going to deliver against #2.  But giving someone a little blue box is practically guaranteed to make you look like a rockstar, at least for the rest of the day.  Why?  Because for lots of people, wearing Tiffany makes them feel loved/admired/the envy of their peer group.


Having trouble deciding whether a marketing message ‘resonates’ with the target?

Just ask yourself:  Does it clearly demonstrate how the product or service delivers against the 3 things everyone wants?  If not, you probably want to go back to the drawing board.

Remember when music videos were ads for the music?




Introducing ‘Scream and Shout’ by will.i.am ft Britney Spears


This isn’t the worst song in the world – I find I like will.i.am’s production, most of the time – and even Britney is giving off less of that tragic desperation I’m-trapped-in-my-own-myth vibe than usual.  So that’s nice.

But I feel like the song is actually just the soundtrack to a commercial for various products will.i.am is endorsing, starting with a host of Apple-related products and accessories:

ipad from will.i.am

will.i.am iphone



(This is part of the new will.i.cam line of high-end accessories for iPhones.)

will.i.cam accessories scream and shout

And then moves on to Beats by Dr. Dre speakers:

beats by dr dre speakers will.i.am

(To be fair, Dr. Dre speakers and headphones show up in almost everything these days, and the kids are so busy ignoring the potential cognitive dissonance inherent in some of Dre’s, Jay-Z’s and 50 Cent’s money-making schemes – formerly known as ‘selling out’, now recognized as ‘cashing in’ – that they haven’t got time to notice they’re being had.)

And, finally, a robotic hand:


will.i.am robotic hand

Now, it’s just possible that this was some kind of freebie, because I’ve heard will.i.am interviewed and I think he’s genuinely interested in robotics.  He also hosted a robotics championship last year, and that’s not something you’ll catch, say, Jay-Z doing.

I’m not in a position to condemn product placement entirely – after all, I listen to lots and lots of music online (i.e. free), watch lots and lots of videos online (free) and watch lots of tv online (again, free).  So if artists are finding ways to get paid without it having to come out of my pocket, that’s fine with me.  

But…I get uncomfortable when I can’t even pretend to myself that I’m not watching a commercial.