Monday, October 19, 2009
I had an incident happen to me recently. I created a soap with a very popular smell (very unsoap like fragrance) due to many requests from my retail customers. The idea of the fragrance got my creative juices going and I came up with a pretty funky bar. Now because I do google alerts I had done one on that soap and low and behold another soap lady was making the same thing, with a different take on the design. If I hadn't had a google alert on that soap I would never of heard of her or her soap company. Anyway, then a week later I notice I got an order from her for one bar of that soap.
Now the only reason she would want to buy one bar of my soap is to compare. So I called her on it and spoke with her on the phone and told her I knew who she was and why did you need one of my bars when she had her own? She said she just wanted to smell it. Right! Well I had a choice of refunding her money or sending it out and I figured if I refunded the money she would get someone else to buy it for her so off it went to her.
So now she's claiming she has the best, she was the first etc etc.
I knew what she was doing when she ordered the soap, something that a lot of business experts tell you to do. Check out your competition, order their products, see how they do it etc etc.
Now I'm talking to you small business owners like myself whether you have a gift shop, do craft fairs, or sell on-line.
I'm not an expert but I think it's WRONG!!
Don't do it because what you are doing is being desperate and trying to take away their customers to be yours. Somehow that just doesn't sit right with me. Why would I want to take your customers? Would I think your customers will be better than the ones I develop myself?
Now I do believe there is plenty of business for all of us but and here's the big BUT you must be creative. You really don't have to steal away any customers from your competition, just give your customers what they want. Don't tell me they want what your competition is selling cause that's not true. They might be buying that but is that the only thing they will ever buy?
What do your customers want? They want to walk into a store or your booth and feel good. They want to see creative things, things that make them smile. Today they want items with a fair value price. They want to see things done creatively that they don't think they can do themselves. They want to see displays done up that tells a story.
Now, tell the truth, do you try and get the same products that your competition has to sell in your store? You think that they are selling a ton of it and you want some of that action. That's a no no.
Think creatively and find different products that sets you apart from the rest. "but Linda there is just so many products out there" Well that might be true, but if they go to the Atlanta show to do there shopping then you go to New York. Not enough different stuff in New York then go to LA. Also you have tons of different artists on line at Etsy.com or wholesalecrafts.com that are looking for wholesale buyers and they aren't at any trade shows. Find some new and different stuff and bring your style into your store and then you will have designed a store that no one can copy. Put your stamp of design on it. Give your customers good customer service, wonderful products and forget about what the other guy is selling and doing. Do your own thing!
"But Linda I'm not creative" Not true, everyone is creative, maybe not in the same ways but we all are. God created the world, we are in his image thus we are creative.
We all work hard at our businesses, we all deserve to be successful, leave your fellow store owner, business owner alone, concentrate on you, not them.
In regards to my business I also had an email from another soapmaker who loved my designs hope she could one day do the same quality of work and to her I gave her my phone # and told her to call me any time, I was willing to help her on her journey.