Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a busy city market where there are buyers and sellers from all walks of life?
I have been to quite a few over the years, particular those in more exotic locations from Africa through to Nepal and South East Asia.
The sights, the sounds and of course the aromas!
Beautiful rolls of silk to be made into saris and wedding dresses, hand woven carpets that if rolled out, could cover complete conference centres, through to baskets full of the most exotic spices, or fish tanks where the unhappiest crabs in the world can be found!
But of course when you walk through these markets, shop after shop, stall after stall, they start to look and sound the same…
“Special price for you sir!”
“What do you want? – I get you what you want!”
“Come in, take your time… buy a present for your wife, your girlfriend…”
I have even made the common mistake to say to the store owner I will come back, then only becoming confused later as to which store I previously went into!
So how do you stand out from all that competition, let alone survive?
Well on the face of it, it appears you couldn’t, but if you start to unpack what you are experiencing, you actually start to see the fundamentals of brand positioning marketing 101!
Let me explain…
Know Your Niche
Firstly, most of the sellers in the market place specialise in one particular niche – there are no Aldi’s, or Kmart’s etc. In the markets, you are either selling spices, carpets, batteries, or eggs. There is no convenience store. For your customers it is also very clear what you do. They know if there are cages of hens in front of your shop – that is where you buy eggs… or fresh chicken!
Know Your Competition
Not only is your competition physically next door to you at the markets, but you will likely know them personally. If they introduce something new to their store, then you know about it straight away! If they get some customers coming into their store – there is the opportunity for you to get those same customers attention and visit your store!
There are no pleasantries when it comes to business competition at the markets!
Know What You Are Offering
Not all the stores at the market run on a low price strategy, even in the markets, every now and again, there is a “disrupter” amongst them where entrepreneurial store owners package up some extra value for you – maybe to offer to pack your purchase so it is safe for you to take it home, or they will even arrange shipping for you!
Build Relationships For The Long Term
There is a tailor in Bangkok that I first visited years ago. Bespoke suits and shirts within 48 hours. For the first few years I received an annual greeting card from them in the mail. Then I must have been travelling through Bangkok once again and stopped by their shop to get a new custom suit. Well now I am on their email list – no more greeting cards, but that doesn’t matter, because I have gone back to them perhaps now more than ten times!
The irony of course if you know Bangkok, there are literally thousands of tailors and each one is competing with each other, it is just this particular tailor I have developed a relationship with and now into the next generation as well!
As the Harvard Business Review sums it up…
“A business can outperform rivals only if it can establish a difference that it can preserve”
Of course there is a little bit more to it than what I have described, but hopefully these four fundamentals of brand positioning marketing 101 will assist you and your business.
Remember, be clear on your niche, know who your completion is and keep current with trends and new innovations, provide value beyond just price and build relationships for the long term – even when in the early stages it may not appear to be going anywhere.
After all, if a store holder in a busy city market can do them, why can’t you?