NOTE: I originally posted about this a couple of years ago, but a recent
altercation client conversation made me revisit and reinforce an argument that needs to be made frequently with inventory-centric, navel-gazing clients. Added some new thoughts, too. – dp
My very first Creative Director once said to me one of those supposedly insightful but at the time mildly mystifying marketing sayings:
“People don’t go out to buy drills.
They go out…to buy holes.”
After mentally flipping him off and mumbling ‘Thanks, Yoda,’ I began to chew on that pithy insight.
And have been masticating that cud ever since.
It’s like the saying ‘have your cake and eat it too.’
And just as annoying > provocative > and ultimately profound.
To me, ‘buy holes’ has become shorthand that means it doesn’t matter what you’re selling; your product is really whatever the customer actually wants. Not your product, but the outcome of the customer’s interaction with that product.
Here’s what I mean. Brazil’s CNA ostensibly sells language lessons. But that’s not their real product. This is:
Whatever language you want to learn is truly about one thing: human connection.
Putting this axiom into action means some counterintuitive stuff, like:
If you’re a shoemaker, guess what: shoes aren’t your product.
Not drills. Holes.
CNA understands this simple truth, and with the help of their agency, created wonderful new connections between South American teens and North American seniors. Good job.
Congratulations, CNA (and their brilliant agency, FCB Brasil).
You know what your product really is.
– D.P. Knudten