What Business Are You Really In?
To make your business stand for something more meaningful you need to ask yourself, what business are you really in?
While we are now fighting to be heard alongside everyone and everything we need to be more than the professions and areas of expertise we originally set out to be part of.
A Path Already Walked
The reason is simply because many businesses define what they do in the narrowest of terms because when their journey started the path was already laid by industry predecessors. The ability to pick the fruit that had already grown was far easier than looking to sew your own seeds.
As a guide where my business is based in Dorset (on the south coast of England), there are over 450 creative/marketing/digital businesses.* Within Dorset businesses with a similar ethos are all competing to be heard and many are on similar built roads where they are on the same journey towards a marketplace that is already being served. This is a huge number of companies looking for attention and fighting for a space. Not even the #dorsethour over on Twitter on a Monday evening can help them from screaming in a vacuum with the same message as everyone else ie. ‘we are brilliant, no really, we are’.
A Bit Of Old School Theory
This all comes back to theory, not from reading a Napoleon Hill tweet, but from Theodore Levitt’s well known reference to ‘Marketing Myopia’ back in 1960. Levitt changed the thinking for business by stating that companies need to stop defining themselves by the product or service they deliver, but to re-establish themselves by the needs of the customer. Levitt highlighted from 50 years ago that: ‘railroads are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (cars, trucks, airplanes) but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business.’
With the content that we now create, customers don’t want to be sold to anymore. We all want our hopes, needs and aspirations catered for. It is your opportunity to find something that is going to set you apart from the rest and for your audience to love the way that you do things and understand that you stand for something.
Making It A Bit Easier By Putting Into Context
Here’s some examples with a different slant on products that could be considered part of the ‘me too’ world.
- If you own a restaurant, don’t sell me dinner, sell me a special night out without any guilt.
- If you are a printer, don’t sell me print, sell me as many different tangible ways for people to say ‘wow.’
- If you are a personal trainer don’t sell me training packages, sell me self-confidence.
- If you own a business centre don’t sell me office space with Wi-Fi for an extra £20 a month, sell me an opportunity to build credibility, confidence and accomplishments.
- If you run a networking group, sell me an affiliation with a business community.
- If you are an estate agent, don’t sell me a house, sell me a better life for the next 8 years.
If you can look through the eyes of others, it changes someone else’s perspective and mindset to what you do. As you can see from the examples above, the whole focus is to offer emotional benefits as opposed to product features which many businesses still focus the majority of their marketing efforts.
The Better Opportunity, 50 Years On
Moving things forward 50 years from Levitt’s theory, we now have a much better opportunity to be recognised for what we ‘really do’ than we have ever had. The channels and platforms now available are changing the whole dynamic for how we present ourselves to the world, we have lived in a ‘paid for’ society for too long, the new process that are available means we can present ourselves in a consistent way that we have total control over (our websites, our blogs, our emails).
We all want happier, healthier and live better lives, so rather than focus solely on the ‘sale’ the whole stance needs to be on what our customers actually want. It can make a huge difference by looking to be different and ultimately better than the solutions that are currently available. Once we’ve achieved this, aids our positioning and perception from others, this is where we build relationships, add value and create brand loyalty.
Lets Be Relevant
We all need to become more relevant to the audiences that we serve and understand what it is that makes other people’s lives better. Once we’ve achieved that, the ability to build an audience who listen and trust you becomes a far easier practice.
It’s not too late for anyone to define what business that they are in. The great thing about the modern world is that we have the ability to evolve as opposed to being stuck with the ‘same old same old.’
Be interesting to hear from you and what business you are really in.
* Thanks to local creative business guru Matt Desmier from Wise Old Uncle on that stat from his recent survey within the county. To all those 450+ businesses, we’ve got to stand for something.