Thursday, August 20, 2009

What Is Your Customer REALLY Buying?

What business are you really in?

And what is your customer really buying?

Would you believe the answers to those questions has little or nothing to do with the actual product or service you sell?

Think about it.

Does a future husband really buy a diamond ring or is he buying the expression on her face? Do homeowners really buy fertilizer, or are they buying green grass? Do mom and dad really buy four bicycles, or are they buying good health and family togetherness? Do media salesmen sell “spots” or "ad space", or do they deliver an increase in store traffic?

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" can be avoided when you start asking two simple questions:

1) "What business are we REALLY in?"
2) "What is our customer REALLY buying?"

As an example, Levitt suggested back in the early 1960's that 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.

Businesses that rely too heavily on the rational value of their products/services alone (features and benefits) wind up on a one-way a track to obsolescence. Once you recognize what your customer is REALLY buying - your marketing job and future prosperity becomes much more manageable.

As an example, decide for yourself if this company is really selling a "product" .. or something else altogether.

This MSN Video campaign delivered significant boosts in some key brand metrics:

- 74% of viewers watched the video in full
- 9% increase in message association among men
- 8% rise in purchase intent among men

Does a deeper understanding of what their customer is REALLY buying help explain why this brand outsells the next three men’s fragrances combined?

If you are "take no-prisoners" serious about elevating your brand to the next level, you don't need to be a Harvard professor to answer to these questions:

What business are you REALLY in?

And what is your customer REALLY buying?

"Any damn fool can put on a sale, but it takes genius, faith and perseverance to create a brand"

Originally posted August 12, 2008


Anonymous said...

Hilarious video! I must admit, I'm an Axe user myself. Although, I haven't yet seen the results that they're advertising.


Mark L. Fox said...

Great video Gair