Today’s topic: Right product and/or service (14th March 2015)
A friend of mine once owned a music store in Dubbo NSW. One day I walked into his store to be greeted by this extremely loud head banging music playing through the store. My friend was about my age, let’s just say mature, and I asked him “Ross, do you actually like that??” He said “It sells, I love it!”
There’s another story about when the Chinese first came to Australia and decided to open Chinese Restaurants and sell Aussies Chinese food. The story goes they served up traditionally Chinese food and few Aussies liked it. What to do? They decided to try cooking something else that they thought Aussies would like and the rapidly growing and successful Chinese food industry is now history. Real Chinese food is still something very different to what most of us order when we want Chinese food.
Go into any major supermarket today to buy an apple and chances are you’ll find a display of apples that look impressive, are all roughly the same size, they are quite shiney and you’ll be hard pressed to find too many with any blemishes. Most of the other fruit and vegetables on display looks and is presented just as impressively. Just down the street is a small independent fruit and vegie shop who sells locally grown produce. His doesn’t look quite as impressive and the size and shape varies considerably but those who shop there swear by the freshness and the quality, and that the prices are very reasonable. History shows that this little independent will have a huge fight on his hands if he is to withstand the competition provided by the local supermarket giant.
The point I want to make with these stories can be summed up in what is called the Marketing Concept.
The Marketing Concept says “marketing is finding out what customers want or need, and then providing it for them while making a profit”.
So what’s one thing that makes for a successful business?
Making sure that what you’re giving your customers is what they want or need. Note: I said what they want or need, not what you want to give them.
How many businesses do you know that have been started up by someone with great enthusiasm and the sincerest of intentions and who thought that people would want what they wanted to give them, only to see them fail.
There was a time when life on the land got very difficult and many farming people decided to leave the land and open up businesses instead. Many of these chose to open businesses where they felt their skills, personal interests or hobbies could be put to good use. Many found it doesn’t work like that and soon went out of business.
This is one of the reasons that a great number of small businesses fail in their first couple of years.
Check your business!
Questions to ask yourself about your business or service if you feel you’re not getting as many customers as you think you should:
Would most of the people I’m trying to attract really want or need what I offer?
Consider your market potential.
Are there enough people out there (in my catchment area) who would be interested in your product(s) service?
Do enough of these people know about you?
If they do, why aren’t they responding more?
If they don’t, how can you reach them?
Consider your product(s) mix.
Are your products the brands most people want?
What benefits do your product(s) or service offer over others?
Are these benefits significant enough to influence people your way?
If so, have you done enough to make enough people aware of them?
Consider the experience your customers get from you.
Do enough of your customers keep coming back?
Do they come back often enough?
How do you think your customers would rate the experience they get from you compared to your competitors?
Is the experience your customer is getting the same it was years ago?
If yes, should it be updated to address changing attitudes, tastes or trends?
Whatever your opinion, what could you do to provide a better customer experience?
Want to comment or ask for more specific advice?
Put very simply, the process for building your customer base is –
1. Do things that will cause potential customers to come through your front door.
2. Do your darnedest to exceed their expectations.
3. Trust them then, if you did this well, to come back again.
The way you get them through your door is up to you but normal media advertising is one way.
The way you exceed their expectations is a matter of judgement but could involve any one or more of number of methods. If you’re a coffee shop, you could acknowledge they’re a first timer and offer a free upsize. If you’re a hairdresser, you could give them a product sample to try as a parting gift. A butcher I once knew used to give the kids of customers a cocktail frankfurt to chew on. He made his own. If parcels are involved and your customer is a lady, you could carry the parcels to their car for them. A motel I knew used to wash the windscreens of guests cars each morning and give guests an apple as a parting gift to eat on their trip. The ideas are endless, just choose something that is easy, thoughtful and costs you little or nothing. Giveaways aside, a warm and sincere greeting and similar farewell may be enough to exceed a customer’s expectations.
Assuming the product(s) you sell or the service you provide meets the customer’s satisfaction, you can reasonably assume that by doing that something extra to exceed their expectations, that they’ll come back again. Why wouldn’t they, unless one of your competitors does even better than you?
To take your business ahead of your competitors, doing 1 may help, but doing 2 more creatively than others will be what makes the difference. Get 1 and 2 right and 3 will take care of itself.