I’m a rat — a big, fat rat. My whiskers are twitching, my beady black eyes are focused and my leathery gray tail is curled up under me.
Right now, I’m excited because I smell something. I think it’s cheese. Oh, I want that cheese so bad. I wish I had it right now.
I’m in a maze, but I bet if I go straight down this path, I’ll find it. I gotta turn right. Now turn left. Now turn right again. There it is! Woohoo!
Excuse me while I eat this. Wow — delicious! That was great. [Burp] Ooops, excuse me.
Wait…what do I smell now? Bacon? Garbage? A dead bird? Oooh, dead sparrow is my favorite. I think it’s down this way. Follow me.
Poor rats. They have a lousy image. Maybe because they carry disease and eat dead things. Maybe because humans are called rats when they turn on you or tell on you.
Rats also seem to be the most popular creature for experiments that require them to complete task after task to get the cheese they desire.
And it’s desire that fascinates us. We want to create it on demand so we can use it to control others. But is that even possible?
According to the Google definition, desire is “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”
Is It Possible?
So, can we create desire in humans and get them to buy more of our products and services?
There are conspiracy theorists who insist that’s already happening. They claim giant corporations are secretly making us desire and purchase certain foods, drinks, perfumes and anything that reduces your waist without diet or exercise.
Of course, ad agencies and consultants like me would love for you to believe we know the secret words and images that create desire.
Inventing Desire, a book published in 1993, featured Chiat/Day, the ad agency that created the futuristic “1984” ad for Apple Computer and the Energizer Bunny campaign. Its title might give the impression that clever copy, dramatic music, and sexy images can create desire — especially for expensive sports cars and cool sneakers their clients sell.
But alas, you cannot “create” desire. But if you cannot create desire, what can marketers do with it? Two key things —
You can’t create it, but you can uncover existing desires in people and use that to make offers that appeal to them. There are many ways to find customers’ desires. One is to simply ask about likes or wants. You can track followers on certain websites and buy subscription and customer lists. If they’re buying baking products and subscribing to baking newsletters, you can bet they’re interested in baking.
Fan The Flames
Smelling the cheese stimulates the rat’s desire for cheese and motivates them to travel the tunnels and twists and turns. You can grab attention and stimulate a buying action in the customer whose desires you have already identified. You can do this with words, images — or by enlisting any of the senses, including smell.
Remember, you can’t create desire. But you can identify it, and make offers with that knowledge. And you can stimulate that desire to get people to at least consider buying now instead of later.
Does that make it seem like we are still just rats being manipulated? Why don’t we try some of that delicious cheddar and think about it?