What does your business really sell?


So many companies make the mistake of defining their offering in terms of services or products, rather than the benefits that the client is looking for.

For example, our business creates value for our clients’ businesses; the fact that we produce brochures, undertake PR, place advertising or run e-campaigns for our clients is incidental. What matters is that we are perceived to add value and contribute to our clients’ bottom lines.

But do you know why your customers buy your goods or services? Your understanding may well be different from that of your customers!

Understanding the true value that your customers get from your products or services is the starting point for creating a genuinely effective marketing campaign. It can also help you establish differentiation between you and your customers and ultimately it will help you build your business.

The chief executive of Black & Decker famously commented, “People don’t go into a DIY store because they need one of our drills. They go because they need a hole in the wall.” The role of marketing is to persuade the person needing a hole in the wall that B&D drills will provide them with the ultimate experience. To do this, the company needs to understand what the customer is looking for because, as history demonstrates, customers’ requirements will change and develop.

And you don’t have to go back in history too far to see how companies who thought they were in the business of manufacturing typewriters were killed off by word processors and the demise of Amstrad Computers is only too well documented. If both organisations had changed the way they defined their products to the way their products would benefit their customers, then they would have identified that the business they were in was quite simply that of helping people communicate quickly, conveniently and effectively – not manufacturing.

To establish what business you are in you need to consider why people come to you. Ask your customers directly – ask why they buy your competitors’ products and review how they use or apply your product. You will then understand the value of your product and can then look to extending its value.

If you consider regularly what business you are in, why people buy your products and what do customers value about your business, you will have invaluable information at your fingertips for marketing and product development. The next step is to find a good marketing consultancy who can work with you to communicate the values of your business – that’s where we come in!

Harris » What does your business really sell?