Online marketing strategist and author Perry Marshall famously said: “Nobody who bought a drill actually wanted a drill. They wanted a hole. Therefore, if you want to sell drills, you should advertise information about making holes – not information about drills.”


Why is it so difficult to articulate the outcome of what you do for your clients/customers?

This solutions-led (rather than products-led) approach to marketing isn’t a new idea but it’s one that many businesses and brands still struggle with. In the social media age, content marketing using value based content (eg useful blogs) that doesn’t just rely on sales messages has grown in popularity but so many are still not taking this approach. Why? Because articulating the outcome of what you have to offer in a language that your clients and customers can relate to is often incredibly difficult to do from an inside perspective. And because it’s easier to just sell to the people who already know that they need/want your product/service than it is to reach out to people who have a need but don’t know that you have the solution.


How can you find new routes to market by communicating your offer differently?

Clients often come to us for advice when they need to find new routes to market to boost growth. We almost always start by getting them to re-think how they communicate what they do at the most basic level. For example, one of our clients is the UK’s leading supplier of highly specialist products to the manufacturing sector. On the one hand, they are in a very niche market but when we did a little digging to understand what their products were used for, we realised that they were all around us – in our windows, cars, road signs etc. They can’t be seen in the final product but they are critical to the manufacturing process. However, even manufacturers themselves don’t start by thinking about what they will use to make their products; they start by thinking about how they can make better products. We therefore help our client tell stories about the outcome of what they do for customers through case study blogs that target audiences can relate to. This rich content is then used to engage target audiences via a range of channels including e-newsletters, social media channels, sales calls and events.


How do you find out what your target customers want to hear?

Social media is an incredibly powerful customer insight tool. No matter what sector or marketplace you’re operating in, you can monitor conversations and find out what is on the agenda for your target market. What common problems and complaints do they have? What is concerning them at the moment? How can you help? You’re not looking for people who already know that they need your product or service, you’re looking for people who have a problem that you can solve and then identifying ways of offering them useful advice that will allow you to build a relationship with them and others like them. You can also identify audiences that you didn’t know existed and would never have thought of targeting.


When it comes to keywords that you should be using to increase your online visibility, SEO research into what gets the most Google searches will only give you a small part of the picture. That’s because you’ll only capture those that are already searching for something specifically related to your product or service. But what about those that have no idea that don’t know they need or want what you have to offer? Or those that see what you have to offer as just a ‘necessary evil’ that they will think about when they have to? They won’t necessarily be following hashtags about what you do on Twitter but they may be talking about problems that you can offer a solution to. This requires a really different way of thinking but it can be very powerful if you get it right.

Advertising a hole, not the drill


How can you improve your reputation using value based content?

Getting inside the head of your audiences isn’t just important when it comes to selling to them, it is also important in terms of managing reputation. We carried out an in-depth online research project for a financial services client into what consumers were talking about in relation to their industry on online forums. This provided a wealth of insight into the kind of language and practices that were causing reputational problems and breakdowns in communication and identified ways in which they could be reassured and engaged more effectively. This insight was then used to shape a new brand communications strategy which put the consumer at the heart of what they do and is now used as a guide for all forms of communication from their website content to their customer service centre.


Looking for new ways to communicate what you do? Let us bring a fresh perspective. Find out more about our services and contact us to discuss how we can help.