The Relevance of Satisfaction

Once upon a time there was a bloodhound who lived on a yellow (not brick) road in a cozy little dog house with a blue roof. He got his one square meal a day and spent a lot of time playing with his favorite red rubber ball. But dry kibble was a pale diet, and he was always on the look out for something more exciting.

Attention. With the 220 million smell receptors in his nose, he’d sniff through lawns and gardens, along the highways and byways. Mostly he found grass, shrubberies and weeds. Maybe some crumpled paper or a crushed soda can. Not exactly the sort of stuff his stomach got excited about. But one day, out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of something down the yellow (not brick) road.

Interest. Something very interesting was on a blue plate. He lifted his nose into the air, catching the first tantalizing whiff of … could it be … it certainly smelled like it … MEAT!?

Desire. It really did smell like meat. It also looked red and juicy, very unlike crumpled paper and very much like meat. Oh, what excitement! If it really were meat. I’ve always wanted meat! the bloodhound thought, and he galumphed faster in anticipation and longing, toward the plate sitting on the yellow (not brick) road.

Action. The closer he got to the blue plate, the more his senses convinced him this really was an exceptionally fine piece of meat, and his enthusiasm grew by leaps and bounds. Until, as certain as he could possibly be, he was leaping himself for the object of his dreams.

Satisfaction. The first bite was better than he had ever imagined, and by the third bite, he was feeling remarkably territorial about his piece of meat (he was of no mind about the plate). Everything that came before this sublime moment was nice and necessary, but his pure delight was the payoff. This was one happy bloodhound – if you could only have seen his tail, you’d know!

We’ve talked about AIDAs before … in fact, you probably know by now that I consider it the fundamental basis for momentum through the buying and selling process. AIDA is something lots of marketing folks learn as a basic framework – the letters stand for: Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

In our offices, we expand our interpretation of AIDA. We add S to the acronym – Satisfaction.

Doing business online, an environment in which taking action is the only tangible (and measurable) thing your visitors experience, is only partly about capturing attention. You must also be concerned with retention. Attention and retention. When you add satisfaction to the momentum of AIDA, you complete the loop by making the process wholly customer-centered – you provide the critical closure for relevance. The key lies in the logical and intelligible management of your message – identifying the central message, communicating it, remaining true to it.

So think how you’re going to work toward retention, turning your yellow (not brick) road into the metaphorical equivalent of a Mobieus strip by adding satisfaction into the equation. It’s the piece of the puzzle that allows you to truly integrate your branding efforts with your marketing efforts. Folks take notice when they are satisfied – and their satisfaction makes it possible for you to capture their attention yet again!

P.S. It’s high time for a contest!

With all our talk about how the message must be meat, the folks here at Future Now have devised a challenge. You know that absolutely brilliant book, Persuasive Online Copywriting – the one with me on the cover? Think you can write bottom-line food-truth copy to sell it? Then give it a go.

Send your submissions (you may submit as many times as you like) to by November 17, 2003. We’ll read ‘em, judge ‘em and select a winner. We’ll fly that lucky dog from anywhere in the contiguous 48 states to New York City, expenses paid, for one day of in depth copywriting training at our offices.

Now, doesn’t that get you salivating? (chortle)


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From November 13 to November 15 we'll be doing our 3 day Academy, the “Wizards of Web”. Hope we see you there!

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Meta-Needs, Core Values and Doing Business

You’ve probably noticed my colleague Bryan and I are thinking a lot about Abraham Maslow recently. There’s a reason for that: we think the stuff Maslow came up with is pretty important. His is the sort of framework that can help you identify those core values critical to your online efforts.

From those values, everything else flows, just like a river from its source. And if you can’t communicate those values to your visitors, remaining true to them throughout all your messaging, how in the world do you propose to make it out there in cyberspace?

We’ve talked before about how, through uncovery, you identify the objectives and values that help you shape the message that will engage and motivate your visitors. It’s the very first step in creating the persuasion architecture of your Web site and gives you the foundation for speaking to the dog in the language of the dog about what matters to the heart of the dog. Part of the job in an uncovery is to identify the needs your product or service fills – we talked about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the value of aiming high last time.

A quick recap: Maslow spoke of four types of needs called “deficit” needs. There are physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs and esteem needs. These different levels of need motivate people’s behavior only if the need is unsatisfied. When a person adequately meets the needs of one level, she is able to move on to meeting the needs of the next level. Deficit needs can be satisfied, and once they are satisfied reasonably well, they cease to motivate behavior. When you are stuffed full of food, hunger isn’t an issue.

The topmost human need is for self-actualization – the desire to become the best you can be. This is not a deficit need. It’s a growth need, and fulfilling it is generally a lifelong process. Very very few people achieve complete self-actualization. And that’s a great piece of information to have when it comes to identifying your message.

Within the realm of self-actualization, Maslow identified 17 meta-needs, or “being values” (B-values), which describe the various needs people seek to fulfill in the process of self-actualization. Meta-needs fuel the process of self-actualization. Unlike deficit needs, meta-needs are not hierarchical – individuals prioritize and choose the values that matter most to them.

Maslow identified these meta-needs: Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Wholeness, Transcendence, Aliveness, Uniqueness, Perfection, Necessity, Completion, Justice, Order, Simplicity, Richness, Effortlessness, Playfulness and Self-Sufficiency.

Looking critically at your stuff, you list every possible feature you can think of. Then you turn those features into benefits, asking what the feature means in terms of human emotions and experience. Sometimes there are layers of “which means” questions before you arrive at the core benefit, but always the core benefit is the simplest logical extension of a feature – as in, more RAM means a faster computing experience.

Next you decide which deficit needs your benefits fulfill, so you can create the message that will motivate your visitor. People don’t buy mattresses because they have coils and special padding. They buy mattresses so they can sleep comfortably. The fellow who sells coils won’t do nearly as well as the fellow who sells sleep.

But don’t stop at sleep! Why sleep? So you can feel better during the day. So you are more alive, more aware. Aliveness is a meta-need. B. J. Bueno, The Power of Cult Branding, tied mattresses to self-actualization: sleeping on a good mattress helps you live your dreams by day. Who is going to buy coils or sleep when they could buy dreams of self-actualization?

The trouble is, simply identifying and addressing your visitors’ meta-needs is only part of what a meaningful uncovery must reveal. So, let’s turn to the other important task of the uncovery process. This is the part that focuses on you – your core values. Through uncovery, you identify the values that motivate you to do business in the first place – these are, essentially, the meta-needs you are attempting to satisfy through your occupation on your own path of self-actualization.

What do you stand for? It’s the most humanistic part of the process, in that discovering your values is largely driven by intuition, experience and skill. But you must stand for something and remain consistent with that projected value. If you – as in you and your business – appeal to fundamental human needs, you make it possible for visitors with the same meta-needs as yours to connect with you, for through your product or service, they can move closer toward self-actualization.

The meta-needs that you identify for yourself are those that will guide your choice of the meta-needs you “sell” to your visitors. But to breathe life into your product or service, you can’t simply tell folks what meta-needs you are all about – you must show them.

B. J. cautions that a potential problem occurs with uncovery when you fail to uncover you own core values:

“When you do not discover your value, you cannot aim higher. This is the potential problem with uncovery. Values are not hierarchical. They are intimately tied to self-actualization. Ideally, you don’t choose what you do for the audience, you choose it for yourself. Only then will the audience truly connect.”

Trust me. Magic happens when you express your core values and make the business they reflect congruent with the needs your visitors are trying to satisfy.

So, how are you going to marry the two and make a match in self-actualizing heaven?


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