“People don’t buy a drill bit; they buy a hole in the wall”. So what did the father of marketing, Theodore Levitt, mean when he said this? And why is it still relevant today?
First, it keeps you focused. When you are producing your marketing material, make sure that you are focusing on the benefits that your product provides. This is what will grab people’s attention: something that makes them think “I have that problem; I relate to that”. Next, once you understand the benefits your product or service provide to customers, you will understand who your real competitors are. A classic marketing example to illustrate this is the rail service in the USA. They were focused on their product (trains) and so thought their competition was other train lines. If they’d focused on the benefit they provided to their customers (fast journey time) they would have realised that commercial flights were the key competitors. They didn’t see it coming. They went bust. Look at the benefits you provide; now see who else provides those benefits. Those are your competitors. Finally, there is a place in marketing for describing the drill bit, as it were. This is once you have enticed the customers in and convinced them that you can meet their needs. Then you can give them the details of your product and service, as this often reassures them that you know what you are talking about. So, next time you start to write your marketing copy; stop. Think. Are you describing the drill? Or how you are providing a hole in the wall? Next time you look at your competitor strategy; stop. Think. Who would your customers go to to have the benefit or need that you provide met? You might be surprised at the answer.
Kara Stanford is a Senior Marketing and PR consultant, as well as MD of KMS Marketing