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So what are you really selling?  Simple enough question, I suppose, but often not an easily answered one for many organisations or brand teams. 

In a past life I worked for a large organisation that provided business intelligence to the pharma industry.  Soon after I arrived at the company I was in a project team meeting and had a very enlightening conversation with one of my sales colleagues about what we actually sold.  As far as he was concerned, we sold data or information, call it what you will.  In my opinion, we did not, under any circumstances, sell anything as inane as data.  As far as I was concerned, the product that we sold was better decision-making.

This exchange reminded me of just how important it is to be crystal clear on exactly what you are selling.  We often get completely caught up in our new, wonderful product that we forget the customer need that we are trying to fulfil and why our customers actually buy our products.

The Three Types of Product

In marketing-speak, we have three types of product: the core product, the physical (or actual) product and the extended product.  To illustrate the different types or levels of product, I’ll use the analogy of buying a drill.

CMCC - Core Product - Image 1 

So what do you really buy when you purchase a drill?  If you think about it carefully, you’ll see that what you are really buying is not a drill, it is actually the hole in the wall that you wish to make.  The hole in the wall is therefore the core product that the marketer is really promoting and the rest is supplementary detail that helps to differentiate your company.

The physical or actual product is the drill itself, let’s say it is a Black & Decker cordless hammer drill by way of example.  It is the physical product that often confuses us as to what we are actually selling.    Quite often, we can be so enamoured with the physical product and all of its features, that we forget the customer need that our product meets.

The final level of product is the extended product.  This would be the warranty, customer service support etc. that supports the core and physical products as a final differentiator.


Identifying your core product allows you to speak to your customers’ needs, rather than your own capabilities.  It therefore ensures that you place your customer at the heart of your campaign, making it far more relevant to your customers and end users.

If you would like any additional information on distilling your core product or would like to see how The Cape Marketing & Consulting Company can help you to identify what you are really selling, please contact Andrew Wilmot at andrew.wilmot@thecmcc.com.

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