Tuesday, August 12, 2008

UnCommon Clarity - Do You KNOW What Your Customer is REALLY Buying?

In his landmark Harvard Business Review article, "Marketing Myopia," Theodore Levitt stressed the need for businesses to define themselves not in terms of the products they sell, but in terms of the customers they serve. Marketing Myopia is something one avoids by answering a simple question, "What business are we REALLY in?"

As an example, Levitt was suggesting as far back the early 1960's that the railroads stopped growing because they assumed they were in the "rail" business rather than the transportation business. He contends if they had seen themselves and their customers in a different light, they might have been able to own the technology created by the Wright Brothers and kept existing customers through owning the development of aviation. Instead, the new technology inspired competitors to jump in and take customers and market share away from the dinosaurs of rail.

So what is your customer really buying? Does the husband really buy a diamond ring or is he buying the expression on her face? Do you really pay for fertilizer, or do you just want green grass? Am I really buying four bicycles, or am I buying good health and family togetherness?

Too many times I have seen businesses depend so much on the rational value of their products/services alone (features and benefits) they wind up on a track to obsolescence. What if you discovered what your customer really wants - and then gave it to him?

Here is an example of one company that has addressed this issue ...

Can you figure what the people who manufacture these products are really selling? Don't think you need to be a Harvard professor to figure it out.

But, when is the last time you stopped to figure out what your customer is really buying?

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