Customers Do Not Buy Products

January 29th, 2016
Steven Howard

Customers Buy Solutions, Not Products

There are five key customer-driven marketing principles that I consider critical to marketing success today.

The first is that the customer is king. The second is: customers do not buy products….they buy solutions.

Hence, it is important that you and your entire organization think of your products and services in terms of the solutions they provide to your customers.

For example, a person doesn’t need a quarter-inch drill. That person needs a quarter-inch hole made. This hole can be made several different ways, only one of which is using a drill.

By thinking of your products as solutions, you won’t get surprised by unexpected competition that emerges from outside your industry.

For instance, there used to be a company that made the best slide rules in the world. That company is out of business today….not beaten by the likes of another slide rule company….but totally defeated by Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments as these two technology giants developed electronic calculators that performed scientific equations faster and more reliably than slide rules.

Likewise, if you were a manufacturer of lawn mowers, you would have to be concerned by the life sciences company Monsanto, which has developed a grass seed that grows grass exactly one inch high. If a customer, such as a golf course or a public park, wants one-inch high grass, the solution they may decide upon could just as easily be the purchase and use of this innovative grass seed from Monsanto, rather than the purchase of lawn mowers and the hiring of crews to cut the grass every month or every fortnight.

When you think of your own products and services as solutions, you’ll be in a better strategic position to remember that your customers are looking for the benefits they get in purchasing, using, or consuming your products or services.

Customers buy solutions….not products.

Key Point: customers look at your products and services as potential solutions to their problems or opportunities. So should you.

Taking Action: go through your key products and services. What solutions are these providing to your customers? What customer problems are they NOT solving?

Could you possibly extend your product or service offer to solve these other customer problems, thereby creating additional value-added components to your current products or services?

This article is excerpted from my book Powerful Marketing Memos, available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. 

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