Start focusing on customer insights

It’s time to forget the 1/4 inch drill hole!

Because true customer insights are tricky things there is a lot of confusion. How do you distinguish them from just plain customer needs?

This led Theodore Levitt, late professor at Harvard Business School,  to coin the famous quote.

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole!

Remember how the seventies saw a proliferation of innovations: from microwaves, space travel to rollerblades and Walkman. Hence, New was the marketing buzzword.Consequently most of communication centered foremost on highlighting the yet unknown features and the product would sell by itself. Microwaves would focus on the time-to-cook and  Sony on sound mobility.

Customer Insights

Marketing was all about communicating the features, the louder the better. But it was left to the consumer to actually infer the advantages and benefits of the product. This worked in a quiet and noiseless world of the seventies. Yankelovich, a market research firm, estimated that a person living in a city 30 years ago saw up to 2,000 ad messages a day, compared with up to 5,000 today.

Features, Advantages and Benefits revisited

However today, as marketers, we simply can no longer afford to assume that the customer will make the logic leap from features to benefits. Hence the emergence of the FAB approach in the early eighties (Features-Advantages-Benefits). Levitt’s 1/4 inch is the feature and the hole is the benefit.

Furthermore, I would even argue that in today’s world where we are competing for customer attention we need to go one step further. Do we really understand why the customer needs a hole in the first place? Is it to add shelves? To organize a garage?  To hang a long overdue (and often reminded) painting on a wall? Without linking the potential benefits of your brand to a strong identified customer insight, you will be missing the mark every time.

Therefore, forget FAB and think more FABI:

  • Feature:  facts or characteristics about your product or service
  • Advantage: are what the features actually do
  • Benefit:  the reason that matters to the customer or what they value
  • Insight: the underlying customer tension that your solution or brand will release

Next Steps with Customer Insights

With this in mind, core customer insights  need to be ingrained into your brand positionings. Finally, you read more about brand positionings and customer insights in the is free eBook.

Don’t hesitate to contact Santa Marketing for more information on how transformative marketing can help to grow your business.

It’s time to forget the 1/4 inch drill and the hole
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