When Harry Beckwith asked this question well over ten years ago (Selling the Invisible; A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, 1997), people scratched their heads and scrambled to find out!
I think his perspective is worth resonating. If you’re in the insurance business, you probably think you’re selling insurance. If you’re in the auto industry, you probably think you’re selling cars. Not! People are not buying insurance and they’re certainly not buying cars! They’re buying an experience!
One of my favorite ads on TV is Verizon FIOS kicking Comcast’s butt! I truly believe that FIOS rules the cable kingdom! They understand what the customer is looking for and they are continually providing them with that experience.
Successful marketers understand that consumers make right-brain purchasing decisions, based on perception rather than reality. Consumers are for the most part visual and intuitive.
It is so important to find out what the consumer wants and then sell that to them.
Sure I’m selling copy writing services and anyone coming in contact with my business understands that. But more importantly, I am selling a relationship! I’m getting to know my clients, understanding what they need (even if it’s just someone to listen to their troubled writing experiences), and then subtly nudging them to the solution that copy writing provides.
So as Harry Beckwith wisely said a decade ago: “Maybe you think prospects in your industry are looking for hamburgers. Chances are that they want something else. The first company to figure out what that is wins.”