How To Grow And Prosper In A Crowded Marketplace

Grow and prosper

“The basic function of marketing is to attract and retain customers at a profit.”

Peter Drucker

Marketing should play a central role in your business and should penetrate and affect business decisions in all areas from product design to how the product is delivered. Marketing should play a big part in your business, your marketing strategy needs to be sophisticated in an age where consumers are presented with more choice than ever before.

Consider for a moment a market with 10 stalls selling handmade soap. Making and selling soap is an easy business to set up so there are lots of people who want to do it (I’m just using this as an example). The ONLY difference between the stalls is their marketing unless they decide to compete on price and we all know that as a sole trader competing on price is one of the quickest ways to go out of business. The market stall that succeeds is the one that provides the customer with the most satisfaction, sometimes called ‘added value’. Let’s imagine the buying experience at two of the stalls.

Stall A

I walk up to the stall. I look at the soap. I decide on a lavender scented bar. I pay the stall holder. I leave.

Stall B

I walk up to the stall and I am greeted by the stall holder. The stall holder asks me what purpose I’m purchasing for and we get into a conversation about the soap being for my mother-in-law’s birthday. The stall holder tells me how she produces the various soaps and makes some recommendations. I feel I have built up a rapport with the stall holder and am keen to support her business. I’ve also learned that some of the soaps are very unique and I’ve thought of a few more upcoming birthdays that the soaps would make an ideal gift for. I purchase five bars in total, three from a premium organic range. The stall holder wraps the soaps and puts them in a gift bag. Inside the gift bag she tucks a pretty business card.

A month later I find out that the recipients of the soaps loved them and ask where I got them from. I start telling them all about the independent seller and I’m proud to relay the uniqueness of the product and how I’d chosen the gift carefully with them in mind. I remember the pretty business card and pull it out. The stall holder also sells via the online marketplace Etsy and soon three of the five recipients are buying soaps for themselves and their friends and family.

In the first example the seller thought it was enough to just be there with a stall stocked with soap for sale. In the second the seller realised that the success of her business relied upon going the extra mile and understanding that the value exchange taking place could be so much more than just the money and the soap. The second seller understood that as a consumer I can buy soap anywhere.

One of these businesses will succeed and prosper, because whilst many people can make and sell soap not everyone understands that it’s not just about the actual product (the soap). In fact the soap is only a small part of the value exchange.

Think for a moment about your own product or service. Are you offering ‘added value’? Are you standing out from the crowd? Are you providing your customers with benefits and reasons to purchase from you again?

Consumers now are highly attuned to marketing gimmicks and so the future of marketing lies in building relationships and creating a fair value exchange between customer and business where the needs of both parties are met. If your marketing only serves to make you money with little concern for ‘what’s in it’ for the customer then you’re on the wrong path. A happy customer is a returning customer, put them at the centre of everything you do and watch your business grow and prosper.

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