What a drill bit teaches us about eCommerce messaging

The first step in an effective eCommerce messaging is easy to say but not always easy to do – sell something worth buying. While this has traditionally been the job of the manufacturer or product designer, it also falls to the eCommerce marketer to do.

What makes something worth buying in the first place? To understand the answer to this, we have to understand the real reasons that people buy.

Let’s use an example of a drill with a small bit. As Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously pointed out, nobody buys a drill but for its own sake, they want the hole it makes.

But no-one wants a hole for its own sake, either. A hole is a means to accomplish something else, like mounting a shelf on a wall. The shelf is just a way of storing things, which, in turn, is just a way to make your home look tidy.

Why do you want tidiness? Perhaps because you’ll feel you’re in control of your environment. Or maybe you think it adds aesthetic value that will impress your visitors. Maybe both.

In other words, you don’t really want a drill bit. You want safety and respect, both of which are fundamental human needs. The drill it is just a tool for fulfilling them.

Effective messaging begins with identifying people’s underlying needs and desires. These almost always boil down to deep-seated, emotionally-resonant aspirations, such as adventure, belonging, connection, freedom, strength and tranquility.

A product is worth buying if it provides a compelling answer to one of these aspirations. Effective eCommerce messaging therefore might begin with design and manufacture, but the eCommerce marketer must create the messaging that speaks to the compelling, deliverable promises of fulfilment.

Looking for extra reading? We recommend Seth Godin, This is Marketing

Ready to take your eCommerce store to the next level? Get in touch with our team for a custom quote to handle your online order fulfilment and logistics.