Sell Them What They Want, Give Them What They Need

As a marketer of your business, I am sure you’ve heard about the importance of aligning your product benefits to your ideal target customer.

Your goal is to address his or her specific wants and needs and show how your product can fix their pains. A great adage and reminder for all of us is to “Sell them what they want, give them what they need.”

The more you can laser-focus your marketing message to a very specific “who” and specifically focus on their needs/wants/pains, the more profitable your marketing will be.

I’ve written about this and taught it for years. This is Direct Response Marketing 101 stuff, yet I would venture to say it’s something a lot of business owners miss the target on. Rather than trying to weed out a majority of people, these business owners create generic messages that try to be all-inclusive.

The result is bland, boring marketing that misses the target completely.

Recently, I saw a powerful illustration of how one big company aligns its products to its ideal customers and I found it so interesting, I wanted to share it here as a relevant metaphor for your business.

As you read the rest of this article and view the examples, consider how you can do something similar in your business marketing.

For the past several years, I’ve been working out with kettlebells and from time to time, I will tweak a muscle in my neck or back. If the pain were bad enough, I would visit my local pharmacy and visit the pain relief section and be presented with a variety of possible solutions for my aches.

There’s generic aspirin, Ibuprofen and racks of other pain relievers, but the one that catches my eye is the one that speaks specifically to my pains – Excedrin® Back and Body. Why would I ever choose a generic, plain-vanilla option, when there is something specifically for me?

Novartis manufactures the headache relief product, Excedrin and over the years they have manufactured many different “versions” of Excedrin to address a person’s specific pains.



What is so interesting about these products (some of which are discontinued) is that if you were to study the active ingredients, you would find they are the same! So for example, with the current offering, Excedrin Extra Strength is the same as Excedrin Migraine, which is the same as Excedrin Back & Body.


Talk about a marketing whack to the head!

Novartis is doing what all of us should be doing. Selling us what we want, and giving us what we need.

Most of us have some sort of competition. If you sell insurance, there are a ton of other insurance agents in your area. If you’re a retail store owner, there’s another like you within miles, which is why it is so critical for you to differentiate your products and services and laser focus them on your targeted “who.”

Yes, what you sell could be almost the same thing as your competition, but like the Excedrin example above, the ingredients may be the same (what they need), but the marketing should be laser focused on what they want.

If getting this focus is a struggle, there are two recommended books you should read immediately.

Gary Keller’s, The One Thing and Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing.

About Mike Capuzzi

Mike is a publisher, Amazon # best-selling author, and coach for business owners, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders looking to stand out from the competition by authoring, publishing and leveraging short, helpful books. He is the author of 19 books, including two Amazon #1 Best Sellers. Learn more about his publishing opportunities at


  1. jcarlos valdes on July 23, 2015 at 12:21 am

    Great timing on this as I’m losing my mind after getting no ROI on my 3rd direct mail attempt.
    I must definitely check out this books for valuable nuggets

  2. Ray on July 23, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Many product suppliers do this, same thing targeted at the specific need prospects have but same product, you may even get a higher price for some. I have thought about this for my business as a carpet cleaner but struggle to find and angle. My USP is ‘Your Carpets Cleaned Dry and Ready For Immediate Use’ as I do dry carpet cleaning, I get great results with my marketing but not sure how I can differentiate in this way and attract specific customers.

    • Mike Capuzzi on July 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      Ray – thanks for the note. I can think of a few right off the top of my head. A special service for people with dogs. One for cats. Or a generic one for “pets.” You could also have a special service for folks with allergies. Or even kids, etc. There are all kinds of ways you can do something similar. Good luck!

  3. David Hunter on July 27, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    It’s like a book… I could write a book for Dentists teaching them how to market their businesses, and then take the same book but slap a new cover on it targeting real estate agents and BAM! New market, all from just changing the cover!

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