Where you are in your career or where your business and who you are as a person today is exactly where you and the business are supposed to be. Decisions you made yesterday, last month or last year determine where you are now. Steps you didn’t take kept you from being on firmer ground.
All the foolishness of Black Friday with its throngs fighting for “deals” they can easily get December 15 through Christmas shows the lemming-like march of retail and reliance on a consumer economy. I held only one garage sale in my life and learned a valuable lesson. When someone walked up the driveway, to a person there was determination to make a buy. They did not want to leave without a purchase, so I quickly set up a ‘collectible’ table of junk. On this table was stuff we would have tossed in the trash or at best given to Goodwill. You know the Superman glass or milk mug the kids drank from, free wine glasses given as part of membership in a paperback book club, old sports gear, worthless tools… anything with a $1 or 50âµ price tag. My junk flew off that table faster than you can imagine.
So, what can we learn from hysteria marketing like this past weekend? The weak economy is not responsible for your performance any more than are business cycles or phases of the moon. Sure, things are more difficult today than five years ago, but look at others in your profession or industry. If they’re doing better than you, what do they know you don’t? Many millionaires were made last year running businesses started less than five years ago. They are not just lucky. They know their product, their target customers, and aggressively close sales.
My first technology company developed a unique product that amazed everyone in the industry, yet it sold very few units. There simply wasn’t a real or perceived need. Domino’s sells convenience, not pizza. Premium time piece makers sell jewelry and status, not watches. What do you sell? What is your customer/client buying? Customer needs or wants determine your product. Either you have a product few people want or need or your product is positioned poorly in the marketplace. Perhaps your faulty product message is responsible for poor sales.
Why does WD-40 sell so well? The manager of a local Home Depot told me WD-40 is the single most sold item in his inventory. WD-40 never changes other than size or container. It has more uses than a soybean and every home has some. Far from being the best lubricant, WD-40 is easy to use and familiar to us all. The company’s web site lists 2000+ product uses.WD-40 has inspired a SPAM (canned ham) type following of dedicated users and people just having fun with the brand. I even got a giant container of WD-40 as a gift a few years ago, a most useful and thoughtful gag gift if there ever was one.
A couple of decades ago I met someone who asked me to invest in a superior lubricant, something that would do more things much better than WD-40. The manufacturer explained the science and displayed charts galore to convince me how superior his product was. What he didn’t understand was most of the WD-40 sales then and now are to people very satisfied with the product as is and there was no way I would consider going against public opinion as strong as the legion of WD-40 users.
So, what are you doing to develop your brand and customer loyalty? Remember today’s market is the iPad generation. iPad… a product with no reason to exist other than people like it. Wow, they really do like it. Buyers today do not generally care how something is made. Nor do they care what the features and benefits are, or care anything other than what they can do with it. Does your product make them money? Enhance their love life? Let them live longer? Products selling today fall into one of those categories and if a product has enough cachet, the buyer forces a square peg product into one of those round holes.
Today the customer is King or Queen… they have the wallet and determine how the money or plastic is spent to get what they want. Think of the thousands of people doing what you are doing, selling comparable products or services and making big bucks. How are they doing it and you are not. Think about it and if you cannot figure it out buy time from somebody who can. Today’s market is just as vibrant as ever for the top sellers.
If the economy is so bad, why did hoards of manic shoppers leave turkey and family behind to storm retailers on Thanksgiving Day in prelude to Black Friday? Why were so many people fighting, literally, to lay out hard earned bucks for the next generation iPhone or the newest $300 Air Jordans? Our economic pie is ever expanding; the marketplace and consumer mindset is what is changing. It is your job to learn how to deal with these changes.