Is what you’re selling what your customers are buying?

It was Theodore Levitt who first pointed out that people don’t want quarter inch drills.  They want quarter inch holes.  And that is true for any product or service.  Yet more and more, the advertising fraternity seems keener (certainly with digital media) to emphasise the drill rather than the hole; what it is rather than the benefit it provides.  This is why so many clients are discouraged by results from activity in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn et al. Jeremy Bullmore wrote an interesting article on this very subject back in 1997/98 and I would certainly recommend reading it (which you can do so here).

In it, Bullmore makes interesting distinctions, including:

  • Clients don’t want Research, they want insight and knowledge; an understanding of where they (and their market) is
  • Agencies sell Branding/Corporate Identity, but what clients are buying is an instantly recognisable element
  • Advertising is of no interest to client, however they are interested in having a beacon shining on their products

At the end of the day, what clients are really looking for is doing activities that help in the drive to making clients spend.  But at the end of the day, you need to have a worthwhile product/service.  Because as Dave Trott points out

In the real world, products build brands, brands don’t build products.

And as others have pointed out (this quote has been attributed to several different people)

Nothing kills a bad product faster than good advertising.


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