“What Steve Jobs recognized was that increasing sales, growth and market share is a side effect of understanding what people really want.
“He didn’t give people reasons to choose. He gave them reasons to crave, to covet and to belong.” (Berndadette Jiwa, Marketing—a love story. 2014)
Ms. Jiwa has stimulated a ton of questions as I calculate what “people really want.”
I have eight Os Guinness books in my library. The first one written and read in the mid-seventies. Os is the great, great, great grandson of Arthur the beer brewer. Os was born in China during WW II to medical missionaries. When the Japanese invaded China, Os had two brothers who died from the terrible conditions one at age two years and the other at seven months.
“There was no time to grieve. The Japanese were closing in and they had to flee the day after Reginald died, carrying Os, their remaining toddler, in a basket on a pole the 1000 miles to Bombay and the boat home.” (p 242 Genius of Guinness)
One might assume that beginning his life fleeing the Japanese army and then being one of the last to leave China after the Mao revolution would influence his values and pursuits—what he really wants.
Rand Paul said in one of the early debates, “But I think society and civilization needs structure. There is a theologian by the name of Os Guinness I like who says ‘that liberty requires restraint, but the only restraint consistent with liberty is self-restraint.’”
See if I am anywhere close with this list of “what people really want”? First is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, then my list in no particular order.
Given the chaos in almost every sector of the world ranging from violence to sheer lack of common sense to upheaval—like confusion of who gets to use the girl’s bathroom—people want someone to make sense of “all this craziness.”
We want someone who can make sense of things for us or will give us tools to help us make sense of things. I think leaders who can give us guidelines, and sign posts of where we are headed according to his or her reading of scripture will attract a crowd.
Henry Grattan Guinness was a preacher, then in his middle years he was an educator training missionaries. He wrote twenty plus books in the latter third of his life which earned him degrees and positions in national societies. In 1888 he wrote a book to make sense of cultural direction. Based on his study of astronomy (not astrology!) and the lunar calendar, he projected 1917 to be a probable important year for the Jewish people. He wrote at the end of Ezekiel in his Bible the numbers, “1948.” He was making sense of a new day sixty years in advance.
The voice of Rick Joyner keeps alerting me. Several months ago he had an awakening that he interpreted as a vision or revelation that the Right would rise up in reaction to what the Left was doing. His moderate word was/is left or right—when out of control is a concern. Solutions must be measured against the long-term impact. Getting the trains to run on time fixes today’s problem but at a high long-range cost. That is the filter through which I’m hearing political speak—left and right.
Most of us just want to know how to get through the week. How to make decisions, what basis is there to evaluate and discern, how to understand the kids math problems? Some of us most of all just don’t want to think about any of this.
Are there solutions to my anxiety? What about eczema? How do I hear God’s voice? Where do I find answers to those questions and can you tell me if there is a fresh approach I have not tried to process all of this through God’s Word?
Do you know about aquaponics? I didn’t pay any attention until last week when a website suggested that the west coast water situation is going to have national significance. The website is selling plans for aquaponics. With not too much water, a family can grow a wide variety of veggies and fish. The water is “recycled” and not evaporated. The fish fertilize the vegetable plants, the plants get and give to build a self-sustaining farm in your basement, a small room, pots, or garage. (Will the house smell like a river if I have one of these “farms” in the basement? And what do we do when we get tired of fish? And post-cleaning fish innards?)
The point is: there is a strategy to solve the problem of diminishing water sources and a self-sustaining food source in the case of crisis. I like Newt Gingrich as a theorist. His staff says he comes up with 10,000 ideas before lunch. People not only want ideas, they want “how to” instructions. That is the difference between a theorist and a strategist.
I like Andy Andrews’ podcasts. He is an awesome writer and comedian, but he is also a wise parenting and marriage strategist. Last week’s podcast was “How to get your teen to talk to you.” Searchers want strategies. I am extremely appreciative of the business writer Bernadette Jiwa. Her small books on Difference and Marketing are full of strategies. I plan to read everything she has written–She gives me “reasons to crave, to covet and to belong.”
I like to listen to Pastor Andy Stanley because his sermons are strategic. He touches my heart, teaches biblical messages in an expository style that equip me. He doesn’t “offer advice” he teaches strategies. In my opinion, many of us want our church to offer in some setting—not always on Sunday morning—life (personal, family, marriage), business and career strategies. The ones who do will not lack for interested participants.
Henry Grattan Guinness was linked with Spurgeon and Moody as the three greatest preachers in the 19th Century. One of his biographers says, “He had all the drive, industry, energy, initiative, flair and philanthropy of his brewing and banking cousins. But he also had extraordinary personal charisma and presence.”
Henry Grattan Guinness died as he was born, in the year of Halley’s Comet. At his funeral, all who spoke paid tribute to his “breadth of vision and achievement.” People want their lives to have significance. It is interesting to me that “El Chapo” the Mexican drug cartel leader who was recently captured, is reported to be currently reading The Purpose Driven Life.
Was Henry Grattan energized by something related to Halley’s Comet? Whatever the source, people want purpose. There is a difference between what people “need” and what people “want.” We don’t always want what we need. Sometimes we don’t know what we need. Until we know and want what we need, we will not be shopping for solutions or answers and we’re not going to be in a buying mood. So, we minister to what people want until they become aware of needs.
“The brands we care about don’t just make innovative products; they shape our culture and make us feel like better versions of ourselves.” (Jiwa)
“A great brand is not a mark burned into a product—it’s something we want to belong to.”
From Ms. Jiwa’s latest blog:
“Christian Louboutin is one of the most successful shoe designers in the world, selling more than half a million pairs of shoes a year. A pair of Louboutin’s will set you back between $395 and $6,000, their distinctive red soles are a marketing coup.
“Louboutin once said, ‘When a woman buys a pair of shoes, she never looks at the shoe. She stands up and looks in the mirror, she looks at the breast, the bottom, from the front, from the side, blah blah blah. If she likes herself, then she considers the shoe.’”
We want to belong to and give time to and purchase products that make us feel better about ourselves.
Southwood—The community you’ve always wanted.
©2016 D. Dean Benton—writer & wonderer