Clean your mind for a few minutes. Forget how great what you’re selling is. Forget the features you’ve focused on, and your marketing literature. Think about what your customer wants. Why does he or she buy from you.

Think about Starbucks for a minute; a brand most people know. Starbucks doesn’t think it’s selling coffee drinks. Starbucks sells affordable luxury. Starbucks sells atmosphere, a place to meet.

Then consider the two different options for selling food. One of them is selling convenience, reliability, consistency; it’s a great solution for a parent driving a van full of kids in soccer uniforms, kids that the parent needs to feed between games. The other is selling luxury, atmosphere, fine food and peace and quiet, a fancy meal for a date — in short, something completely different from the first “product.”

Now go back to your target customer, and think about that story. Who is this, what situation is she in, why does she pay you money. What are you really selling? What business are you really in?

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.