My first question with new businesses I work with is ‘Who do you sell to?’. Not what do you sell or what are your challenges. Who you sell to is always going to have a greater impact on your business than what you sell.
The market is generally always more important than the product. It sounds counter intuitive but stop for a minute and consider how brands operate, and what allows them to grow and dominate. Rolex understands it sells luxury to the wealthy (or aspirational) – it just happens to make watches. Uber sells ease of travel to those constantly needing to get from A to B – it just happens to have an app that links consumers to taxis. Apple sells the ability for those who think differently to achieve more – they just happen to sell consumer electronics and the apps that drive them.
‘Who’ is always more important than ‘What’.
Harley Davidson nearly went into bankruptcy in the 90’s thinking it sold motorbikes. It brought in an ex Disney CEO that reminded them they sell freedom, a sense of spirit, adventure and independence. That focus on ‘Who’, and the stories it created for them, pushed their share price from 49c in 1996 to over 44 dollars by late 2007. Today, despite stiff competition and market challenges, it is still the most loved (and most tattooed!) motorcycle brand on the planet.
What all brands, and businesses, who focus on ‘Who’ also realise, is that it’s the emotional value they deliver that generates sales, referrals and brand loyalty – not features or benefits of the product itself. In short how will this make them feel.
As mentioned Rolex sell luxury not watches (most of their wealthy customers probably use their iPhones to tell the time anyway as it’s more accurate 90% of the time!). The emotional value bought is status, achievement and heritage.
People buy emotionally, always have, always will.
The things you sell are simply a road down which they travel to achieve those emotions. Be it security, happiness, status, belonging, or any of the desired feelings we wish to create.
No one has ever bought a drill because they wanted a drill. But many people have needed a hole.
Your marketing should rarely focus on the product until you have promised to deliver the emotional change that your ‘Who’ wants. Who’s it for and what emotional value do I want it to create are the two questions that should drive all of your marketing decisions.