Lame advice: We want holes!

Lame advice: People don’t go to the store and buy a ¾” drill bit. What they really want is a ¾” hole.

Not exactly. I cannot think of anyone that wakes up in the morning, stretches and while brushing their teeth thinks to themselves, “You know what I need? More holes!”

Sure, when you buy a drill bit what you really want is a hole. But what you want doesn’t end there. It could be you want holes to hang pictures of your family or to make a tree house for the kids. But it doesn’t end there either!

Why do you want to hang pictures of your family? It could be that your wife has been nagging reminding you for the last 2 months to “hang those darn picture or else” and you just want some peace back in your life. It could be that the pictures remind you of what’s important and helps you to focus on your priorities. Or it could simply be that hanging family pictures is a social norm and you don’t want to look silly in front of the neighbors.

So why do some marketers stop at the first benefit (drill bit -> holes)? Answer: because it’s simpler. The truth is that we marketers may never know the underlying benefit each consumer seeks when buying our products. So we tend to stop at the benefit that most consumers have in common. But if you can tap into the specific underlying emotional benefit for each consumer, you’ll be that much better off understanding your individual consumer’s needs.

Happy Tuesday!


6 Responses

  1. Actually they stop at the first step because it makes them look clever. Many marketing “prescriptions” are more about looking clever than about solving a business problem.

  2. Adelino,

    I thought you must have fallen off the grid completely. It’s good to hear from you!

  3. I just finished reading Robert McKee’s book on screenwriting “Story” where he advices writers to fully inhabit the world of their characters.

    I think we stop at holes because it is hard work to inhabit the world of those we market to.

    Thanks for naming “lame advice” what it is.

    Keep creating,

  4. hi Bill,

    Nice post. Reminded me of something this week. My girlfriend is spanish and i eventually signed up for spanish classes this week. One of the guys in the class asked why i was learning spanish and I explained it was to keep the peace in the home.


  5. @ Mike,

    I think you are right. Beyond holes it just gets murky and borders guesswork…that is unless you stay close to customers and potential customers.

  6. @ Paul,

    That all we ever want – a little peace. .. and maybe some quiet.

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