While that statement might make you think, “Of course I know what I’m selling, you idiot . . . I have a warehouse full of product.” You need to understand that what you’re selling and what you’re marketing are two entirely different things.
We were recently reminded of a quote by Theodore Levitt, an economist and professor at Harvard Business School. He once observed, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.”
That hit home. Coincidentally, we recently needed a six-inch hole in a piece of corrugated metal; we had no desire to buy a six-inch hole saw blade for a one-time use. In the end, the hardware store sold us a hole saw blade, but what we bought was the solution to our problem.
Several years ago, before cell phones and free long-distance, AT&T spent millions of dollars every year advertising long distance services. They were selling a service, true; but they were marketing guilt—i.e., “Call your mother.”
Similarly, Kodak once dominated the photography industry. They sold film. But the consumers bought a way to record important moments in their lives. Kodak had millions of rolls of film for sale, but their buyers were purchasing memories.
When a consumer buys a diet book, he or she is spending hard-earned dollars for a bunch of printed pages. What the buyer is hoping to get is a healthier body, or a slimmer, body, or an improved self-image.
You sell a product or service because that’s your business. People buy your product or service because it solves their problem. In other words, regardless of what you’re selling, people are buying solutions.
To be successful, your marketing efforts need to focus on providing answers to what people are trying to accomplish. That the product you sell achieves that objective is what will ultimately drive your sales.