What are people buying? Is it you?. Is it your product? Or is it what you stand for?
This is a very interesting question and the answer may well be the key to getting a sluggish business product on track towards your goal.
So many entrepreneurs think sales come from selling their personality. They feel if people trust them enough, or like them enough, that will sell, and if enough people like them, then they have a successful business, will gain authority and more people will know then and like them, leading to more sales. These budding entrepreneurs will invest all their time and energy into being social, being helpful and being likeable.
While it is ALMOST close to the truth, it misses the point just enough to be detrimental. There is a very real danger in this attitude of getting emotionally attached to the business. When your business becomes your identity, taking ‘hits’ is no longer learning about rejection, it can mean you are targeting the wrong people as potential customers and missing out on growth.
Selling Your Story Not Your Product
Is it your product? In years gone by, perhaps your product or your service alone could have made a big market impact. Not anymore, a global market means a global reach which means we are being sold to every minute of the day on our devices, our emails and on billboards.
Let’s pretend you are selling carrots, it could be anything, but we’ll keep it simple. It used to be that the person who had the best carrots would get the sale, so a sign saying ‘best carrots’ would get you there. But if EVERYONE has quality carrots available, how do you choose where to get carrots from?
You might have a great product, but so does everyone else. It might not be the same as your product, sure, but customers have so little time to explore and so many choices to wade through, so many “best…” signs to read, how do you get them to notice what you have?
What sells is an experience. It’s not WHO you are, or WHAT you have it’s WHY you are selling it and WHY they are buying it that’s the true secret to getting noticed and maintaining interest.
Story vs Product
Consider if everyone else is selling carrots and there is someone selling organic carrots. It’s not just that these carrots are different, it’s the story that this farmer cares about your inner, long-term health. This farmer is selling pesticide-free vegetables, a natural product that they believe in.
People are not buying you or your product, they are buying what you stand for, either because they already stand for it, or they want to.
Customers now have a deep desire for authenticity. Who they buy from and what they buy is based on an experience of authenticity.
Knowing this can really help you get ahead in business, or get you started if you find that your great product isn’t moving as fast as you expected.
Create an Authentic Experience
People crave authentic experiences. They want to believe that what you are selling and what they are buying are real. And real is measured by authenticity. It’s your business story, or your why, that will convince them that you are real and genuine and trustworthy.
In order for something to be authentic is has a history, a story, a desire and a predictable future. These parameters not only define your authenticity but also uphold your business and the vision you will govern by.
When you know that an authentic experience is everything your customer is looking for, then regardless of what business you are in, or what level that business is at, you can tap into your own authenticity and really sell your story of why. What you stand for.
It is the authenticity and the WHY that have made Apple, Facebook and Tesla so incredibly successful. They say; this is what I am doing, this is why I am doing it and they do only that.
Your own story of WHY is your authentic business card. When you talk to your niche, you will find they will identify and love your why and buy it. If your product then lives up to expectations (ie, it doesn’t lie and it is truly authentic) then word of mouth alone will have your business booming.
For this to work, you need to be genuinely authentic.
Author and writer Joseph Pine talks about the evolution of the economy and how customers now are craving an authentic experience. He defines authenticity in two parts
1. That the product or business itself is authentic
2. It does what it says it will do.
His discussion is around the story of the business.
The Starbucks Effect
A brilliant example he uses is of Starbucks. Starbucks doesn’t have to advertise, they a very recognisable Logo. Their sell point is what they do, and they do that so authentically, people are attracted to it and will pay top price.
If you measure a cup of coffee beans purely on a raw commodity basis, you’d be looking at about two or three cents per cup.
If you take that core ingredient and package it as a product, roasted, ground and on a shelf, it becomes more valuable, at around 15 cents a cup.
Then if you were to take that shelf package and brew it in a café you can then sell it as a service worth $3 or even $4 dollars a cup.
Then if you take Starbucks, who surround the brewing with the experience of their atmosphere, or the feeling of walking down the street holding their branded takeaway cups, they can charge $7 or more for a cup of coffee!
Consistency is part of the key here. People know what they are gong to get at a Starbucks. No matter where in the world you are you get the same treatment. It’s authentic to the WHY of Starbucks and authentic to their story.
What is interesting is that Starbucks created a name for itself as the place to experience coffee in a big way. Underneath that, it also created a second story, one of cutthroat business techniques to saturate the market and bump out competition.
While the young generation didn’t especially mind this disruption, those in business and finance certainly took notice. What’s important here is everything you do will become your business story. It’s important that you recognise that all your actions as a business owner are part of your business story and they will speak just a loudly as your products and your advertising campaign about what kind of business you are.
Starbucks took a measured risk in their operations knowing who and how it would impact. Do be sure that what you do has a positive influence over your desired customers.
Your Disruptive Mission Is Your Why
So many entrepreneurs succeed in business because they have an incredible WHY. Richard Branson wanted to create an airline that he’d like to fly with because he didn’t like the experiences on offer with other airlines, that’s his story and he replicates that sense of value and top service through all his companies, meaning that he always stays true. He is authentic and trusted in what he produces and why he produces it across the board, which makes him fantastically successful.
Steve Jobs wanted to create a computer no one could mess with. He wanted a pure, clean system, which created a product that people became addicted to.
Knowing your WHY, or your business story, is so important because it gives you a framework for how you conduct your business, how you talk to people and what your product does. Once you define the history of what you do and why you do it, talk to your niche about your passion. They will fall head over heels for your why and, if your product meets expectations, the rest of the market will follow.
Just remember that your story works as long as it is genuine.
Actually be the ‘why’ you are promoting, not just through your words but also your actions, the way you conduct your business, and how your service or product performs.