If you think about it, every business sells the exact same thing. We may each approach it differently. We may sell it in different ways and for different reasons. We use our own techniques and messaging. Even the products and services that carry what it is we actually sell are dramatically varied and diverse. But in the end, when it comes right down to what EVERY one of us in business is actually selling, it IS the same thing. Revlon Founder Charles Revson probably summed it up best when he stated...
"In the factory, we make cosmetics. In the stores, we sell hope."
It's an incredibly powerful motivator. It's the reason most people get up in the morning. It's why one person often musters up the courage to ask another out on a date. It's the reason the soldier presses on in the field of battle. It's why a manufacturer takes a risk on buying a new and expensive piece of equipment. It's all because of hope.
In my travels recently, I picked up the complimentary bottles of shampoo and conditioner in my hotel room and headed to the shower. I can't tell you how many mini-bottles of shampoo and conditioner I've picked up over the years and never once noticed the label on the bottles. But this time, for whatever reason, I just happened to actually look at the label. And there it was: HOPE. Hope for this follicly-challenged middle-aged man. The label described the conditioner as "Volumizing" and I thought, "Hey, maybe that combover of mine won't look quite so 'weak' if it's 'volumized.'"
But whether or not the clients I met with that day were going to be wowed by my thick and silky locks of hair was beside the point. What had impressed me was that even this little bottle of conditioner was hard at work, selling me the same thing every other product and service in the universe was trying to sell - or at least SHOULD be trying to sell. It was selling hope.
Just as makeup in the store sells the hope of looking a little younger, a new concrete truck sells a contractor the hope of doing their work a little quicker and more profitably. A new recreation vehicle sells the retired couple the hope that they'll finally realize their dream of traveling the country, and a younger couple with children offers hope that they'll build stronger relationships and family memories.
One of our clients built mobility vans. But what do they actually sell? They sell the end-user hope that they can still live life to its fullest by getting out to see a concert or a game, or simply doing a little shopping. Another client manufactures crop nutrition and crop protection products. However, every single day, they are selling farmers hope that their yields will be better and more profitable than the year before, as well as some bragging rights among their buddies at the coffee shop.
As you consider your marketing messages, never forget what it is that you and everyone else is REALLY selling. It never has been and never will be simply about the product or service and its differentiating attributes. Instead, it will always be about the fulfilled hope that the product or service will deliver to your customer.