A regular, blue collar guy, Chris, gets a call from one of his friends inviting him to a dinner party.
There will be plenty of food, friends that Chris hasn’t seen in a while, as well as some people he’s never met before. All in all, it sounds like a damn good time, and Chris graciously accepts the invitation.
Chris—being the thoughtful individual that he is—asks if there’s anything he can bring to the party. His friend tells him everything’s taken care of; all that’s required is his witty personality and charm.
But then, right when they’re getting ready to end the call, Chris’ friend has an idea…
“Actually, you know what, Chris? It would be awesome if you could bring some wine over.”
“No problem!” Chris replies. “It’s the least I can do! I’ll see you next Friday night!”
Chris was so flattered with the invitation that it didn’t occur to him to ask what kind of wine he should bring. He’s a beer and shot guy, and this is outside of his jurisdiction.
“No big deal. How hard can that be? A bottle of red, a bottle of white, and I’ll be good to go,” Chris figures.
So next Friday comes around. After he gets all fancied up, Chris heads out to the big new liquor emporium to pick up the wine. He figured more selection to choose from would be a good idea…
…And then Chris walks in and sees the wine section.
Chris didn’t realize how many damn aisles of wine this place had. It feels like he’s been instantly transported to Napa Valley.
“God damn it. I should have just gone to the Walmart Neighborhood Market.”
But here he is now, trying to make a purchasing decision based on a limited base of knowledge.
Obviously, Chris doesn’t want to buy some ripple that the bum on the corner would wink and nod at. But after checking the price tags on some fancy looking bottles, he sure as hell doesn’t want to break the bank on a few bottles of grape juice either.
“Shit. I should probably call and ask what kind of food they’ll be serving.” (like that’s really going to help you)
“Who are these other people that will be there?” (still not gonna help)
“Should the red be dry or sweeter?”
“Do I just spend some bucks and make it look like I know what I’m doing”
“How can I not look stupid here?”
Chris browses through fancy bottle shapes, colorful and artistic labels, and exotic descriptions.
But he’s anything but sure of what to buy.
Welcome To The Confused Consumer Conundrum!
We’ve all been in a similar situation: needing to make a buying decision in an area where we’re not experts.
Today’s technology allows us to seek advice faster than ever before, but there’s no guarantee someone else’s experience applies to our current needs.
This conundrum happens every day to countless people. And when options are almost countless, many things seem equal, and personal experience is limited, the way a product is positioned is what makes all the difference.
Let’s look at some positioning tips from Chris’s wine situation that you can use to connect with your perfect customer.
1-Your package says A LOT.
What your customers see when it comes to experiencing your product or service is so crucial, it can’t be overstated.
Look at the picture above.
Does this wine look like it would be a seductive option for Chris’s dinner party? What sort of “clientele” might gravitate towards this wine. (HINT: rock band Guns N’ Roses used to drink Night Train in their early days because they said it was the cheapest way to get fucked up. They even wrote a song about it).
Packaging says a lot, and don’t think this only applies to physical products. For service-based companies, your website and deliverables need to be consistent with the image you want to convey. If your website is a basic Wix page that looks like it was put up in 10 minutes, how well will your product be received? Similarly, info products delivered in the form of plain, basic (and boring) PDFs with no design or branding will make even great content seem lackluster.
First impressions matter. People make snap decisions on whether they like something or not within a fraction of a second. Take your design process seriously for all materials that represent your product or service.
I don’t think the creators of Night Train wine were looking to appeal to the Napa Valley crowd. But they certainly struck a resonant chord with their “intended audience.”
2-How Good Is Your Wine?
Are you hand-crafting small batches of top-shelf product, or cranking out volume for the masses?
Some digital marketing services cater to a select group of high-end clients through individualized and multi-dimensional service. Others focus on high volume with templated procedures they can repeat fast. Where does your product fit into its market place?
Companies that know how to position themselves for maximum effect can gain market share over competitors with similar or superior products. Your position has power. You can augment a product’s quality by perception alone.
There’s been blind taste tests performed to see if people could really distinguish expensive wine from cheaper brands. When the participants didn’t have the benefit of seeing the label or packaging of a wine, self-proclaimed wine experts were failing the test, mistaking cheap stuff for top shelf (I’m not sure if they used Night Train in the experiments or not).
This isn’t to say that you should mask a shitty product or service in fancy marketing. But you’re aware of the quality of what you offer people. If you’re the best in your market, don’t hold back and let it be known. But you don’t have to be the highest caliber. You can strike a chord with your ideal customer by understanding their pain points and how you can solve them.
Understand your niche inside and out, and how your product fits into the picture.
You might not be able to put lipstick on a pig, but you can sure sell the hell out of bacon.
3-Is Your Pricing On Point?
There are bottles of wine that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars per bottle. Then there is the other end of the spectrum that we’ve already discussed above.
Pricing is a subject that deserves a post all of its own. But we can say here that it plays a big role in product positioning.
When have a subconscious tendency to equate expensive with good and cheap with not-so-good. More accurately, expensive relates to exclusivity. How rare is what you offer people compared to your competition. If you’re doing the same thing as everyone else, it’s not going to make much sense to set your prices sky-high.
At first, hearing that a single bottle of wine costs $300,000 sounds ridiculous. But if you then learned that it was made in 1857 and was one of only 20 bottles recovered from a shipwreck, it begins to make more sense.
If you can claim uncommon expertise or ability in your field, make sure your prices or fees represent that. Don’t be shy. You’re a fine wine that’s not for everybody. But the right crowd won’t think twice about opening up their wallets.
If you’re more middle of the road or on the lower end, there’s still a fortune to be made. You just have to make sure that your pricing doesn’t scare your ideal audience off. If your service doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, don’t charge like it does. It can be very compelling if you tell prospects, “Listen, we don’t do A, B, C, and D. We only do A, but we’ll knock A out of the park for you.”
It might be worth considering whether you can beat the competition by coming in at a lower price and still offering great value. You must find your own ratio of quality and quantity when it comes to pricing. And there’s nothing wrong with going after the masses with affordable prices.
There are people who love wine that only costs a few bucks per bottle. Who’s to tell them they’re wrong?
Ready For A Drink Yet?
This wine analogy applies to almost any industry. Few businesses enjoy the luxury of an uncrowded competitive environment. But this doesn’t mean you can’t tap into a thirsty and profitable niche.
Be honest with who you are and what you offer. And don’t be afraid to shine both in the most beneficial light possible.
Then, the next time a customer like Chris is trying to make a buying decision, he’ll determine that you’re the perfect choice to bring to the party.