It’s not the drill you want – it’s not even the hole that you thought you bought the drill for – it’s ultimately about freedom and joy.

  • 17/04/2019

You may have heard of Theodore Levitt, and you may have heard of Tim Ferris and Seth Godin.

I’ll mention the latter two in a moment, but for now recall Theodore as one of the 20th century’s great economists, marketing observers and Harvard Professor.

He is particularly well-known for the great quote in his seminal paper, Marketing Myopia:

People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

It’s an entirely useful philosophy to have for anyone wishing to understand their customer and client needs, and if you’re a lawyer, it’s worth applying in a number of ways. A client doesn’t ever want legal advice – they want a new house, they want to buy a business, they want a divorce …

May I now also offer a fresher perspective on this philosophy having enjoyed a great podcast from Tim Ferris (The Tim Ferris Show, the 4-hour Work Week and speaking with Seth Godin (awesome marketer, and author of the Purple Cow and This is Marketing).

Tim’s podcasts should be on your own list of regular things to do, and a great revelation on this matter came from listening to Seth talking about his new book, This is Marketing. He reminds us of Theodore Levitt’s insight, but then moves the whole thought process forward.

Seth tells us that we don’t actually even want that quarter-inch hole. We don’t actually even want the rawlplug to put into the hole to help put a screw into. We don’t actually even want the shelf that you would place on top of the screw that you’ve just put into the rawlplug that is in the hole in the wall for which you thought you needed a drill bit for.

And patience please – you don’t even need the shelf which you will use to place all of those books on that had previously been cluttering another corner of your room.

No – what you do need is the peace and harmony, and the joy and the love that comes from your spouse, or your internal critic, for creating that sense of tidiness and thoughtfulness – and for having achieved something that in itself was important to you or a loved one.

Just like your own clients who will be wanting personal satisfaction, greater resources, freedom from an issue, and the ability to do more of what they want to do.

Whilst this new insight and perhaps new philosophy seems really straight forward once you have embraced it, it may not be easy to take the few steps backwards from the end result – but doing so will give great insights into why clients and customers want to use our services.

By retracing each of the steps along that journey from providing happiness to your spouse to moving the books off that untidy corner to buying a screw to put in the wall that the drill bit can produce you will truly understand the decision process and buying needs. You will be better placed to provide the solution to any issue that you currently have whether it be the opportunity to enhance the latent happiness of your spouse or whether it be an issue in your law firm environment, or a true issue that one of your clients has.

If you’d like to read the inspiration for this article:

Martyn Best is CEO of Document Direct, the UK’s leading typing and transcription service for the legal sector.

Call him on 07798 700500 or email [email protected]