All You Need Is...What?

What do you need?

This is the question I asked in a marketing meeting with myself last week.

You read that right.

Just me sitting in my kitchen talking to an empty chair about what’s working and not working. My roommates weren’t home, so they couldn’t see me acting like a crazy person.

(“If a crazy person is alone in the woods with no one to see them, are they really crazy?”)

(“Yes.”)

“Who is my audience? And what do they need?” Those were the questions.

It’s not rocket science.

In fact it’s Business 101. But since I’ve never taken a business class, it’s still taking some time to get rooted in me.

As a person, I want to help everyone. But you can’t do that as a company.

A company needs to have a specific need in mind. Otherwise you end up doing really nothing of substance at all.

And since I want us to have a deep impact on the world, it means we make the audience and their needs specific.

Our website has an about page describing what we are after. In short, we want “to create to shape culture for good”. It’s a page I like to re-read often to re-orient myself when things get discouraging. Our North Star, if you will (and I trust that you will).

So to do that, we need to ask “What need does our audience have that we seek to fill in order to share culture for good?”

But what’s amazing is identifying need is literally everywhere in my work. And the more I think about it, the more I realize how incredibly important it is.

  • “What does the player NEED in order to win the game?” Only an intense, specific need sparks competition and clarity of gameplay.

  • “What deep NEED drives the protagonist’s actions?” Without compelling needs, the characters are just doing things. That’s not a story. That’s just stuff happening. AKA super lame.

  • “What do our listeners and readers NEED from this stream or post today?” If what I’m doing is not interesting or needed, why would people spend time investing in it?

  • “How does this website formatting address a NEED for our audience?” If the majority of our audience doesn’t use Twitch and yet we use it for our podcast, how can we help them make the leap to using a platform they wouldn’t otherwise use?

This is just skimming the surface. But the more time I spend studying and practicing all this, the more I realize how important specificity is.

“All you need is love” doesn’t quite cut it here.

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Specificity can be scary. It means intentionally not doing things. It means saying yes to a few things and no to a ton.

But the end goal always needs to be kept in mind. Because without specificity, there’s less impact.

Whether you are a business owner, a writer, an actor, a student, a game-developer, a parent, a spouse, a coach…to be a good one, you must always be looking for the specific need.

To be a great one, you need to be looking at how to specifically address that need.

That’s where brilliancy and ingenuity comes into play. You’ve isolated the issue. Now figure out how to best tackle it.

In your context, what is the need to be addressed? Hone in on it. What is the actual root of the issue?

Most of the time it’s not easy to see. That’s why commercials always try to accompany selling you a need (a car) with a feeling (importance). They are addressing your need to feel important by selling you a car.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a true thing. It’s up to you to decide to use it for good or bad.

And it can be pretty complicated. A coach can see a player with conflicting needs: “Jimmy has an ego that needs to be humbled so he can be a better teammate. But he also needs to grow in his confidence to play better.” These seemingly contradicting needs are intimately woven together. And it will take a wise coach to not only identify Jimmy’s needs, but specifically address them.

This takes time, energy, commitment, patience, grace, and a whole lot of persistence. But on the other end you get something great: a need met.

And I think we could use a little more of that.