Business Successs in a Crowded Market?
For instance, I saw a link to this site's article in a business newsletter that I receive [That's another trick right there! SUBSCRIBE to all those FREE business newsletters! They consolidate links to the multitude of blogs and websites out that there are available] and followed it to the site to read the full listing....
It told me things I already knew... boring, right? But, then, I started to consider exactly how I AM already using these or how I am NOT using them and what can I do to change that. That's the a-ha moment, when you leave the "classroom" and enter the "real-world" environment. Apply and/or reinforce the tenets that you may 'already know'!
Here's what the blog said in a nutshell versus how I applied it to my business (alpacas!) model:
5 Ways To Thrive In A Overcrowded Industry Katie Morell Contributor, OPEN Forum Contributors
See the actual blog posting for the full story, as I am only listing the bullet points with my comments below.
1. Focus on a niche
2. Study the market and fill gaps
3. Network, network, network
4. Diversify your offerings
5. Focus on customer service
1. Focus on a niche:
Of course! Not only are alpacas already in a special niche among livestock, there are ways to set yourself apart in the alpaca industry -- such as specializing in a color like greys, in a breed such as suris only, or in a grade like only baby fine! You can even limit to bloodlines that were original to specific regions in South America, such as Accoyo, though that is having less significance as the overall quality of the U.S. population of alpacas has improved.
But, this may be a key point to remember - be passionate about what niche you choose! Pick what you already love. Of course you love alpacas, but do you really love greys over all other colors or are you trying to pick the 'hot selling' color of the moment? Fads fade, so pick what you want to stand behind for years to come.
2. Study the market and fill in gaps
Wow, this to me is two points that often are separated by folks. Many do not study the market, or only did it when they first opened their farm. The market is always changing, so you should be watchful. This does not mean just reviewing the emails and blog posts that are sent to you but trying to review the animals and fiber listed across marketplaces, on personal web pages, and at auctions. What are things sell at now? Are you in the market or above or below it? Got a beauty and want to sell her? Earmark a few comparable listings (like realstate comps) in your region or in your specialization if you have one. If you have time, watch them for the next few months to see how (if) their prices change and when the sell.
Fill in the gaps, hmmm.... now that can be the big question. So, what gaps are there? No appys? No lingering fineness? No great herdsires? No great foundation dams? Well, I would say that a true 'gap' in alpacas may not exist, but there may be more an opportunity to accentuate more rare or special traits. Have a male at 20 um at 10 years old? Boast about him! Have a herd with a 80% rate of greys? Use it as a headline in your ad! There ways to accent why you are notable, special if not one-of-a-kind.
Well, really should this need discussing? This is a network business, and word of mouth advertising often is the catalyst to a really good sale. Emails, blogs, chatting at shows, marketing events, etc are all aspects to this network marketing. There are droves of books on this subject and many at the library if you want to keep your investment and storage of books to a minimum. Keep reading!
4. Diversify your offerings
You could take this to mean offer different bloodlines and wide selection of ages, breeding status, colors, and fiber grades. It does at the fundamental level. But can you extrapolate this to even more diversification in your farm?
This is the safety net that works for all business types. When your stocks are down, your bonds may carry you. When your alpacas are not selling what are you doing? Do you work out of the farm (ie. day-job)? Great! Do you also raise horses or goats? Do you make crafts and artisan goods (with the intent to be business successful, not gifts or hobbies)? Do you do graphics? Sell vegetables? Take a look at some of those self-sustaining farm models often touted on sites like Hobby Farms and LocalHarvest.
5. Great service
This should be all our number one goals, and not just because it is the right thing to do. Not just because we should all treat others as we want to be treated... It is also human nature to stand thick-n-thin by those we like, to return without question to those we trust, to advertise and promote to others brands/stores we love! Good customer service means you have a fan, a friend, almost a psuedo-employee who will help you advertise! And they will for good or bad.
So, those of you who have slighted others, took advantage or walked away when you could have remedied a situation with your customer, you have to ask yourself -- was it worth it? Worth the bad reputation? In network marketing the power of a bad review echos and even amplifies, especially since your past customers' OPIONIONS are how others will judge whether they trust working with you! Take the time to offer great service. It is worth it.