Drills not holes; buying tools over results, means over ends.

I challenge the marketing adage by Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” We buy so much more and if you drill down, pun intended, you can expand to buying a shelf or desk or place to study………You may argue latter that in all these examples consumers are buying the end product, I counter and say more today in our fast moving world we are buying the means to that ends.

So we can finally put that to rest in the grave yard of old advertising adages that no longer have merit. Besides in today’s world if I really just wanted a hole I would borrow a drill from the UBER drill lending site. I suggest what you really want to do is build!

First case is how often do you hear investors say it is all about the team. When you build a great team they can pivot and change with the market. What investors are really buying is a team that will find a way to return 10x on their money in short time. If their needs were less than they would buy other more secure investments. Investors are buying a risk return profile they can embrace or work with. Some buy friends or people, but in the end results count on that investors return.

Second case is in B2B sales where you buy tools for process and that process changes. If you buy SharePoint what are you buying? A process tool or a process? The application by its’ self is mostly useless out of the box. If you are selling collaboration software it is useless without people sharing ideas and content. Your team already collaborates and may document tat collaboration but what you are really buying is a tool that sustains that process for a given time. Tools are what you buy, what you do with those tools is amazing and hopefully always changing.

Third is consulting, you buy an end vision, an issue solved. That consulting approach of experience to teach. Here the feature function of the drill is the most important. I get hired to get Product Mangers and Innovation culture working. I know full well that the minute I leave entropy takes over and it is rare that the pending system dysfunction is not blamed on me. But at time I do get that second call to prop up the culture and those are great days. Great not for the repeat business but great in that they understand the solution is morphing as the company situation and staff evolve.

Lastly is building innovation, culture is amorphous and will add value to your offering over and over. Tools, people and advisers are drills to the companies that understand adding value over a long period of time in as many ways as possible is the core expertise required in today’s market. And customers will pay a premium for that commitment to the market and them.

Tim Bates