Many new businesses take the approach of expecting sales to happen by the mere fact that they exist. Some open a physical store, others open a website and expect sales to just start rolling in. Their marketing strategy is hope. And sure they may make a small number of sales just by virtue of being there when a random prospect wanders by. But that is a guaranteed path to frustration. Many such businesses make just enough in sales to torture themselves to death. They then conclude the market or their industry is too competitive. Truth be told, I don’t know of any market or industry that is not competitive. But one thing I know for certain is that in any market or industry you look at, no matter how competitive, there’ll be someone doing really well and there’ll be someone struggling. So if we were honest with ourselves we couldn’t really believe it to be a problem with the market or industry. So what’s the problem?
THE “ME TOO” PROBLEM
The problem is likely that you’re positioning yourself as a commodity, a “me too” type of business. When you position yourself in this way you’re only marketing weapons are to shout as loudly as possible (which is very expensive) or to discount your prices as far as possible (which is dangerous). Unless you are a Costco, Walmart or other such behemoth, you really don’t want price to be your key differentiator, as that’s a battle you won’t win. At this stage many businesses realize their folly and start making dubious and unquantifiable claims like being “the best”, “the highest quality” etc.
TWO QUESTIONS TO KEEP ASKING YOURSELF
There are two questions I ask myself and my clients today. Answering these two questions is the path towards financial success in business. In fact I would argue not answering these questions is the reason why 96% of businesses fail in the first 10 years. So the two questions you must ask and answer are:
- Why should they buy?
- Why should they buy from me?
These are questions that should have clear, concise and quantifiable answers. Not wishy-washy nonsense like “we are the best” or “we have the highest quality”. What is the unique advantage you are offering? Now the uniqueness doesn’t have to be in the product itself. In fact, it would be fair to say that there are very few truly unique products. The uniqueness may be in the way it is packaged, delivered, supported or even sold. You need to position what you do in such a way that even if your competitor was operating directly opposite you, customers would cross the road to do business with you instead of your competitor. Do it really well and they may even stand in line overnight to do business with you instead of your competitor like they do with Apple products.
PUT IN TERMS YOUR PROSPECT CAN EASILY UNDERSTAND
Your prospect has essentially three options:
- Buy from you
- Buy from your competitor
- Do nothing
You may think your competitors are your biggest problem, but in reality it’s more likely to be a fight against inertia. Therefore you need to answer the question of why they should buy first in addition to why they should buy from YOU. We live in a sound bite, MTV generation which has to deal with thousands of messages each day. The importance of crafting your message in an immediately understandable and impactful way has never been more important. Can you explain your product and the unique benefit it offers in a single short sentence? If you take nothing else away from this article take this: Confusion leads to no sales. This is especially so when explaining a complex product. Let’s take a look at an example from one of the world’s best marketing companies – Apple. When they launched their now legendary music player, the iPod, they could have talked about the 5-gigabyte storage capacity or other technical features. But instead how did they promote it? “1000 songs in your pocket” Genius! 5 gigabytes doesn’t mean a thing to most consumers. Neither does a bunch of technical jargon, but “1000 songs in your pocket” – anyone can instantly understand that and the benefits it will offer. Apple was by no means the first portable music player on the market or even the best, but they were by far the most successful because of their ability to quickly and easily convey the reasons why you should buy. Your clarity around this will have a huge impact on the success of your business.