Focus On Marketing Fundamentals Part I

Jim Blasingame

This is the fifth article designed to help you operate your business better this year, so you can stay out of the business obituaries. This is the first of two articles about helping you become a better marketer.

As you grow your small business, remember that the divining rod of success in the marketplace will always twitch in the direction of our only topic today: Serving the humans we call customers. And here's all you need to know about them: A customer's life is beautifully simple -- it's all about them.

Any questions?

Unfortunately, because of the process we use to acquire and develop products and services to sell, this rude truth can be counter-intuitive. In that process, you're the customer buying benefits for your business from a vendor. But a benefit that excites you converts to nothing more than a feature to your customers. And as we know, customers buy what benefits them, not you.

The best way to make the conversion from what makes you excited to what excites your customers is to remember this acronym: WIIFM, "What's In It For Me?" Consciously or not, this is what customers want to know as they consider what you sell, and you must be able to provide the right answers.

Those answers will be found by understanding that humans are just like other mammals, in that we need certain things: food, air, shelter, etc. But where we're different is that we're self-aware. This means beyond what we need, humans are the only animals that consciously want things. We need to eat, but we want to dine. We need clothes, but we want a look. We need shelter, but we want a home.

So what does this have to do with your small business? Everything. What we need are commodities, of which everyone knows the price, and for which no one is inclined to pay more. Only companies that sell huge volumes -- as in millions -- can compete selling commodities.

The opposite of a commodity is what we want. And what we want could be just a little bit more, or everything. And along that spectrum, between a little bit more and everything, is the marketplace real estate where 21st century small business success will be found.

Don't fight the commodity price war; that war is over and small business lost. Instead, find out what customers want, from a little more to everything, get them whatever it is they say, and ? this next part is critical to your survival ? charge them for it.

Write this on a rock... Marketplace Rule #1: Focus on the customer. Marketplace Rule #2: See Rule #1.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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