Financial marketing


The ‘Hole’ Outcome

12th September 2017

We were speaking at an entrepreneurial event last week. To illustrate a point, one of the speakers who took to the stag quoted Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt’s famous line: “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

At it’s most basic level, the drill analogy works brilliantly. It is a powerful metaphor, which acts as a telling reminder to financial services marketers that customers buy benefits not features (and that we’re selling the ‘sizzle not the steak’).

But then it dawned on us, however clear or clever the line was, it simply didn’t go far enough.

It didn’t make us want to leave the comfort of my own home on a brisk Winter’s day, drive out to a DIY chain in an out of town industrial estate and part with my hard earned cash.

You see, strange as it may seem, we have no particular desire to pepper our walls with quarter-inch holes.

That is not and will never be a desired outcome or end-game. Consequently, the marketing payoff doesn’t cut it, since it isn’t aligned to my particular needs. Critically, as a proposition, it simply does not go far enough.

I want to put some curtains up so that I can have some privacy. I want to put up a shelf so that my room will be less cluttered and better organised – so I can find things more easily when I need to.

Focusing on final outcomes and desires, rather than immediate or intermediate process steps will take us a whole lot closer to the world of the customer. Start with the end in mind. That’s the drill.