Ecommerce Operations

Hotdogs & Dreams: What are you really selling?


When you’re writing web copy, taking product photos and designing your website, it helps to know what you’re selling.

After all, if you know what you’re selling, you can make it more prominent, and give customers a clear idea of how your product or service meets their needs.

But do you know what you’re selling, really?

Most business owners when asked “What are you selling?” take the question literally. They’ll give you a strange look for asking an oddball question, and point you in the direction of their shop, website or menu.

“Why don’t you take a look for yourself what I’m selling?” they’ll say.

Which is a fair answer, but if they understood what they were really selling, they might find themselves unblocking a stream of never ending customers.

So, what are you really selling?

What are you really selling?

I’m sure you know what you’re selling. Whether it’s hotdogs, coffee, antique furniture, luxury watches or an online inventory management app, you can put a name to the objects, software or services you’re handing out to willing customers in exchange for their cash.

In reality, it’s not that simple.

Whenever you sell anything, you’re selling far more than a product.

What’s in a simple hotdog?

Take the hotdog vendor. What could be a simpler, more honest product than a sausage in a bread roll?

You don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find there’s a lot more going on than meat, bread and ketchup.

For one, you’re selling satisfaction for hunger. People buy food because they need to eat. For two, you’re selling convenience. People buy fast food because they’ve got more important things to do than prepare a meal from scratch.

You’re also selling warmth – both the warmth of your hot food, and (hopefully) also the warmth of your smile as you prepare the hotdog and hand it over for sale.

You’re also selling satisfaction. People eat hotdogs because it’s a food they enjoy.

Lastly, you’re selling a story. The story of hotdogs is one of adventure, as a food that traveled from Germany to the USA, of competition, as the food of choice on American baseball stands, and ultimately, of the American dream. It’s a food almost everyone wants and almost everyone can afford.

Who’d have thought there was so much in a simple hotdog? Yet it all helps the hotdog vendor in his marketing. He could, for example, tell people his hotdogs are “freshly cooked, hot and always satisfying”. He could paint his hotdog stand with the stars and stripes of the American flag.

All this would reinforce what he’s really selling and make his hotdogs even more attractive to customers.

Making Life Easier

Some products – like hotdogs – meet a need (hunger), and fulfil a dream. Others – like a dustpan and brush, or a productivity app – simply satisfy a need and make life a little bit easier for customers.

When your product meets a need, you still might be selling a dream (such as a clean home), but more importantly, you’re selling a solution to a problem (such as a dirty house).

A great example of this is how we’ve positioned Veeqo.

Veeqo makes life easier for eCommerce sellers by allowing them to manage stock in one place. It’s reliable, easy to understand, and simple to use. Our straight-talking, simple website is our way of making this immediately clear to potential customers visiting our website.

Over to You

What are you really selling in your business? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by David Masters

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