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Feb. 16th , 2012

The hardest thing in business is to know what you're selling. Maybe it's not glamorous, sitting around trying to work out what it is that you sell when it should be so obvious, but it's not obvious.

In pretty much every single business the thing that you're selling is not physical at all. Whether you make phones, or food, or bricks, or provide services, ultimately everyone is selling the same thing - experiences.

This is a good and a bad thing.

It's good because experiences are multi-faceted, exciting, different for everyone and infinitely customisable.

It's bad because experiences are ephemeral, hard to get right and potentially impossible to manage.

But what's really great about experiences is the fact that they are most of your marketing. While everyone else is running around creating more and more elaborate ways to promote their stuff and drilling down further and further into data, you can stop and think about what you're really selling. And when you know what you're really selling everything else falls into place.

If you're still stuck it helps to remember that what you're selling isn't really something you create at all. Customers create their own experiences for you. This isn't the same as selling people what they want. That kind of marketing wouldn't create much of any real value.

Instead you should be using the resources you have to enable people to create the experiences they want. Even better would be enhancing the experiences people want to create with whatever resources you can access.

Hopefully, of course, in return for money. Or at the very least fierce loyalty.

From here on it's all plain-sailing. Do the methods you use to communicate improve those experiences? If not, then drop them. Do the things you actually make create those experiences? If not, then make something else. It's so much more effective to protect the experiences and tinker with the products than it is to sell the same old thing and "manage expectations".