You Don’t Sell What You Sell

Jeez, do people get this one wrong! The sooner entrepreneurs understand that their customers do not consume their product or service, the faster they can focus on taking more money to the bank. This is one that every successful entrepreneur must get right: people consume what your product or service delivers. They consume the benefits that it provides.

Lesson 1: Sell the benefit, not the product.

Just Do It

Case in point: Nike. When you think of Nike, you may think that they sell shoes and athletic wear. While that may be how it appears on the outside, dig a little deeper and you will find that there is a much larger and more profitable story. In all reality, they are selling something else – they are selling the idea of winning and athleticism. They sell the idea, hope and dream of being the next superstar basketball player, tennis player or golfer. They have sold the world on the fact that champion athletes are synonymous with their name.

One look inside the way Nike works makes it easy to see that they are selling a lifestyle. The lifestyle they are offering is one inhabited by world-class athletes, winners, and the champions of their respective fields. From Michael Jordan to Lebron James and Tiger Woods, the face of Nike is literally that of a champion. And Nike has tapped into every corner of the athletic world, including swimming, skateboarding, soccer, and snowboarding.

Did you see that? They are in snowboarding. Snowboarders don’t even use sneakers! Yet, Nike is there in a big way. Nike gets it, and hopefully you will too, by the end of my blog post.

Lesson 2: Nike doesn’t sell shoes, it sells winning.

Speak To What People Buy

When people view the Nike website they see success, and the shoes are simply the way the success is delivered. Whether you are viewing the leaders in the field of football, or of running or of snowboarding, just viewing those pages makes you think you can succeed. It speaks to consumers who feel they are winners or are aspiring to be winners. It is a no brainer; if you want to win you must own Nike stuff!

When people purchase a pair of Nike shoes, they are not just buying a pair of shoes; they could do that from any company out there. They chose Nike because of the winning advantage that Nike seemingly provides. Yes, they are also comfortable and stylish, but everything is secondary to stellar performance.

Lesson 3: The benefit is WHAT people buy. The “shoe” is simply HOW it’s delivered.

Winning Everywhere

Could you imagine Nike selling orthopedic comfort shoes? They would go out of business faster than Hussein Bolt can sprint the 40. Nike knows it’s not selling shoes, it sells winning. If Nike simply sold shoes, they would obviously carry a good set of orthopedics. But, are comfort shoes for winners? No! So Nike doesn’t carry them.

Nike has the winning attitude everywhere. It is absolutely consistent. Only winning athletes represent the brand. Only winning lifestyles are represented in their materials. The slogans too are all about winning – “be unstoppable,” “built for speed,” and “run unleashed.” All of these tap into the core benefit that the consumer is seeking – winning.

Successful companies sell the benefit, simply using their product or service as the delivery vehicle. For example, think about Viagra. People are buying endless sex. They are not buying a blue pill. It’s all about the benefit. Flower shops around the country are not selling flowers. They are selling romance, wishes, hope, apologies, smiles, etc. Home cleaning services aren’t selling sparkling showers. They are selling the gift of free time.

Lesson 4: Know the benefit you sell and make every face of your business highlight that benefit.

Defining What You Sell

The most successful companies are those that have identified what they are truly selling, which is the benefit that the customer gets from using the product or service. So what exactly is the benefit that you are selling? If you can’t readily answer that question, you need to figure it out because, after all, that is all your customer wants anyway.


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