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Expert Feature: Business Owners – Your Job Is To Harness Desire, Not Create It

desire, business owners can't create desire they can only harness it

There’s a classic story about desire that I want to start with today.

It is said that a proud young man once came to Socrates asking for knowledge.

He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge.”

Socrates recognized that he was a pompous young man and so he quickly devised a plan to teach him a valuable lesson.


He led the young man through the streets, to the sea, and chest deep into water.

Then he asked, “What do you want?”

“Knowledge, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile.

Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under.

Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again.

Wisdom,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.” 


Socrates pushed him under again.

Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. 

The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?

Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Knowledge, O wise and wonderful…” 

Socrates jammed him under water again.

Forty seconds passed. Fifty. “What do you want?”

Air!” he screeched. “I need air!

Then Socrates said these wise words to the young man, “When you want knowledge as you have just wanted air, then you will have knowledge.


Desire ism’t just important in our personal lives.

It plays a vital role in business.


Business Owners: You Cannot Create Desire

Eugene Schwartz was a master of copywriting.

It’s been said that his copy and letters generated more than $150 million in sales.

Not only that, but he was one of the world’s highest paid consultants (Rodale Press once reportedly paid him $54,000 for four hours of work.).

He also took Martin “Marty” Edelston (writer & publisher) from $3,500 to being worth over $100 million.


Schwartz’s book Breakthrough Advertising is considered a mail order classic.

In this book Schwartz reveals something very important to business owners, copywriters, and content marketers.

It’s similar to the lesson Socrates tried to teach that young man.

He says, “This is the copy writer’s task: not to create this mass desire—but to channel and direct it.

“Actually, it would be impossible for any one advertiser to spend enough money to actually create this mass desire. He can only exploit it. And he dies when he tries to run against it.

Then he says, “Let me repeat. This mass desire must already be there. It must already exist. You cannot create it. and vou cannot fight it. But you can—and must—direct it, channel it. Focus it onto your particular product.”


The greatest error that business owners make is in believing that they can create desire for their product or service.

It doesn’t matter if you love your product. It doesn’t matter if your momma loves it.

The only thing that matters is if your prospects desire it.


4 Questions to Ask If You’re Having Problems Selling Your Product or Service

If you’re having problems selling a product or service, then you might want to do ask yourself these four questions:

1. Do they know that my business exists? 

2. Does my product or service fulfill an actual desire that my prospects have?

3. Do they realize that my product or service fulfills that desire?

4. Do they realize my product or service fulfills this desire in some unique way that my competitors don’t?


If you answer, “No,” to any of these questions, then you need to work on that problem until it is fixed.

Until then, you will be stuck working against your prospects’ desires.

And how hopeless of a situation is that?

Schwartz says that when a copywriter (or business owner) does that he dies.

But when your product or service taps into their desire, that’s when your sales problems begin to disappear.


Photo by treewoman8

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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.