Online Marketing by an Undergraduate


making sense of marketing one post at a time

The Builder, the Toolmaker, and the House

After seeing business from both the marketing firm and the corporate perspective this past week, I’ve made a simple analogy to describe their relationship:

My analogy recounts a builder using the right tools to build the right house for its future occupants. The builder is the corporation using tools the toolmaker marketing firm provides him to serve his customers. Whether they know it or not, the objective of both the builder and toolmaker is to construct a fine house. Each achieve this end objective differently. 

The successful builder chooses the tools he can use most effectively to build the house the future occupants want. With so much riding on his execution, the builder places emphasis on what he knows will work. Taking the long view in choosing his tools–and not succumbing to the latest fads–makes him a successful builder. 

The obvious job of the toolmaker is to make tools that the builder will use.  In this respect, a toolmaker can earn a good living understanding the desires of his builder clients and providing him with the tools he wants. Not content to cater to his client builders though, the elite toolmaker understands the source – the occupants. Because a toolmaker earns a living selling to builders, this approach presents difficulties when the understanding of the toolmaker and the builder about the occupants differ. But ultimately, understanding the needs of the occupants will ensure the long term success of the toolmaker. 

While only a rough beginning, I am trying to tell a story through my analogy. The best corporate teams use what they know works to serve their customers and improve their lives. Although marketers have to meet their clients at this level of what works, their best shot at long term success is understanding the customer first, and pushing their limits in terms of tools for serving them. While this boundary pushing makes their clients uncomfortable, bridging the corporate team’s and the marketer’s understanding of their customer to deliver the right tool for the job, is the most enduring way to serve a customer base. And serving these customers and improving their lives is ultimately what business is about. 

What do you think? If you like it, take it further, or, think of another. Thanks for stopping by.


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June 2009
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