- 24th February 2012
My watch broke. That normally happens when you drop it on a floor from a height. So I took it to a jeweller to get it fixed.
After the jeweller informed me that it would need to be sent away, he asked me a very odd question. “Are you timeless, sir?”
For a moment I thought about it, was it something in the way I dressed, classic tailoring or perhaps a look of world-weariness caused by excessive bingeing the night before.
“Sorry?” I blurted out.
“Timeless, sir? Can you tell the time today?”
Suddenly it occurred to me that he was talking about the fact that I had just given him my watch, and so would be without the ability to tell the time. This is not something I generally worry about because I always have access to the time somewhere or other.
But suddenly the fear of being timeless or “without time” gripped me. What if I was running for the train, looked at my watch and it wasn’t there? What if I got home and was relaxing and suddenly panicked because my watch had gone?
The stress of being timeless was suddenly overwhelming.
“Yes, I am timeless.” I said, with which the assistant pulled out a temporary replacement watch, which he polished and gave to me. Time had been restored.
The thing that sticks with me though, is the word. “Watchless” would have been a good word to use, I would have got it instantly. But a watch is a feature of being able to know the time. Being “watchless” I can live with but being “timeless”, without the benefit of time? Well that’s another issue.
Thinking about the difference between features (a watch) and benefits (time fullness) is a tough one for any marketer. Features are hard and you can easily resonate with them, but benefits, well that’s different.
The watch repair guy gets it. Why can’t we all?
Ian Hughes is the CEO of Consumer Intelligence, a market research company that is dedicated to helping its customers make intelligent decisions using the best possible insight.