Is “Need” a word we "need" to banish from our marketing?

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Is "Need" a negative word?

Last week my son sent an interesting article about the word “need.” The message must have sunk in, because when I wrote this week’s newsletter, I caught myself replacing it with something else.

Now I’ll offer the question for your consideration.quesstion marks

According to that article, the word “need” is one of judgment – and a bit of bossiness. The writer mentioned those times in childhood when our parents told us all the things we needed to do – or else!

  • You need to clean your room.
  • You need to clean your plate.
  • You need to turn off the TV and get your homework done.
  • You need to mow the lawn.
  • You need to get into a good college.
  • You need to get a good job.

As adults, we might be stuck with more needs - many self-imposed.

  • I need to go to work on time.
  • I need to finish a huge pile of paperwork.
  • I need to get the house clean.
  • I need to cook healthy meals.
  • I need to help the kids with their homework.
  • I need to volunteer more often.

So now, if a would-be coach or a person selling a training seminar tells you that you need the skills he or she is selling, does it hit you as a negative?

Do you question whether you need that or not? Do you resent being told what you need?

If someone selling the latest gadget or marketing tool tells you that you need it, do you think “Like heck I do!”

If your broker tells you that you need to blog, do you think "I'll decide that for myself, thank you."

Is there a difference between saying "You need" and saying "Why you need?"

Will a person feel less "bossed" if you lay out the reasons why?

I'm thinking about my prospecting letter set: "Why Homebuyers Need their Own Agent." Should I rephrase that to avoid annoying people?

What about a homebuyer’s needs?

  • Is it a negative if you ask a buyer to tell you about his or her wants and needs?
  • Is it a negative if you try to get that buyer to define which is a want and which is a true need?

I ask that because when my firstborn was a child he was constantly telling me about things he needed. My question always was “Do you need it, or do you just want it?” If your buyers’ parents asked that question, will they resent you asking it?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I do know that when I wrote about content marketing in my newsletter I replaced “you need to try it” with “consider trying it.”

I don’t want to trigger any of those long-buried negative associations!

So - what do you think?


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William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

I think we use this word more for stuff we want than to express what has to be done.   (Almost wrote need 4 times.)

Apr 26, 2017 01:32 PM #1
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Marte - I try to avoid the prescriptive use, as in "you need" and focus on the reasons, but using it as a noun doesn't strike me as problematic. Gayle Ric-Boxman wrote a post today about the word "should" - same kind of idea.

Apr 26, 2017 02:27 PM #2
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Marte I don't find it offensive at all.  When I ask buyers their wants and needs it is not in judgement.  The fact is some of them need 3 , 4 or more bedrooms etc. It's my job to find out what they want and need.  As for the other part of the post - I do agree. Many 'needs' are self-imposed! 

Apr 26, 2017 02:51 PM #3
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marte- my approach has always been that I can't go in to try to sell someone something until and unless I know and understand their needs.  It would be very presumptuous of me or anyone in sales to tell someone they need something. I have to go back and look at my posts now. Thanks!


Apr 26, 2017 03:51 PM #4
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Somehow, that word, "need," seems to conjure some sort of power that is coming out of subjective opinion.  I'm not fond of it, especially when it is directed toward me.

Apr 27, 2017 03:00 AM #5
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
RE/MAX Northwest. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

I must admit, you make a great point here Marte Cliff  

Apr 30, 2017 09:26 PM #6
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Paul S. Henderson, CRS, REALTOR®, it's just one more thing to consider.

May 01, 2017 07:40 AM #7
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Good post, need is similar to like often used, not necessary, just a filler. I think we all carry lots of negative connotations with different words and it does not hurt to try different words with people asking in different ways.

May 02, 2017 12:08 PM #8
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good Morning Marte - you are the wordsmith and you have made a great point.  Why focuses on the individual but need alone focuses on some ouside force.  Motivation comes from within.

May 03, 2017 06:18 AM #9
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Very interesting post about the world "need". I booked marked thae post to refer back to.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

May 03, 2017 07:34 PM #10
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

We do use this word a lot , Marte and probably should find some good replacements. 

May 07, 2017 08:33 PM #11
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