Continued from Part 1….

The first question you should ask yourself is:

  • Is my item (or Do you have an item that is) either very unique or one that is very common to your area? 

The answer here really doesn’t matter with good marketing, but it does help give you a direction in which to go next.  Unique or exotic items can bring in a premium price with good marketing to the right target group of customers, but it can also fail miserably without it.  For the beginner, starting a business based on commonly seen items may be easier simply because the customer is more familiar with the item, which means easier marketing requirements on you.  At the same time, however, you have more competition, so that can potentially bring a lower, more competitive price.

Take goat’s milk soap, for example.  I know of soap makers who look at this item as just “soap”–everyone uses and needs it, so it should be an easy sell, right?  Not necessarily.  Yes everyone buys soap (at least I hope they do!), but the average person sees absolutely no difference in warehouse-brand soap for $ .20/bar and specialty goat’s milk soap for $4/bar, except the price tag.  Naturally, if they think soap is soap, the uneducated buyer would make their decision based solely on price.  The same goes for raw milk vs. standard, store-bought milk, and “backyard” vs. specialty livestock breeders/buyers.  If you are looking for a dairy goat on craigslist, you have probably seen plenty of this type:

Even if you aren’t familiar with Alpine goats, chances are you have seen them and you know they produce milk.  On the other hand, what if you saw this photo in an ad:

Very few folks have heard of a Kinder goat, so they aren’t going to readily be able to identify one, they won’t know how to best utilize it, and there will be more questions.  Unless you understand this, you are going to have problems selling this type of goat. 

Based on this fact, you need to be willing to educate people accordingly about your product.  For example, I’ll pick on soap again.  People know about soap and it’s benefits, so it makes the job easier that you don’t have to convince them they NEED soap.  You simply have to convince them of why YOUR SOAP is better than the cheap stuff, and why they need your soap instead.  On the other hand, if you are an alpaca breeder, most people have no clue what an alpaca is, let alone why on earth they would need one.  So not only do you have to convince them they need yours, but first you have to make them understand what an alpaca is and how it is beneficial to them. 

Which leads me to one of the most important points of marketing your item.  It is absolutely impossible to effectively build a business around an item without first understanding how it benefits the customer.  You must have not only an understanding of this, but you must also have the ability to make the customer understand this fact.  It is a natural fact of human nature….we are a selfish species.  We want what best benefits us personally.  Until your customer gets to know you, you are nobody.  At first, the customer has no concern whatsoever for you, your product costs, and how great YOU think it is.  He is only concerned with how it will benefit him. 

Next time you go to a market or an area with product displays, notice the posters and banners.  We know they are all trying to gain your business, but really look at HOW they are doing that.  You will notice you are drawn more to some than others.  Why is this?  The ones you are most attracted to are the ones that you think will benefit you most.  They may have quick bullet points telling how the item will help you feel better, make your life easier, or create a profit margin for you.  Or, maybe you are most attracted by the smell of the 4-H BBQ booth.  Still, though, while they may not have bullet points and banners to convince you of why you need their food, you know how that food will fill your tummy and be enjoyable all the way down!  It’s all about the customer being convinced.  When you understand that, you will have a solid basis to start your business with.

So, think on that for a bit, and stay tuned for Part 3.