Growing a commodity business is one of the hardest challenges a CEO may ever face. After the last few years of belt tightening by both companies and consumers, more businesses are feeling like or being treated like a commodity.
The first step in growing a commodity business is to recognize if you have become one or are becoming one. To paraphrase that bastion of American strategic business thinking, Larry the Cable Guy.
You may be commodity if:
In other words, if your customer thinks your product or service is a commodity, or your sales team acts like you are a commodity, you may have let yourself become one.
The key to leading strategic growth in a commodity environment is to start looking at your products and services from the perspective of your customers.
Mid-size companies can learn from the giant businesses of our time, if they know what to look for. Coca-Cola is a beautiful example of one of the ways to market a commodity product. Coca-Cola sells sweet brown fizzy water. And according to many scientific tests, Coca-Cola’s sweet brown fizzy water is pretty much the same as everybody else’s. So you never hear Coca-Cola talking about their sweet brown fizzy water. Instead Coca-Cola advertising focuses on the experience people have when they enjoy Coca-Cola. If you look at the Polar Bear advertising Coke runs around Christmas time, they communicate togetherness, friends, sharing and a bit of refreshment. To consumers, the warm fuzzy feelings are more important, more motivating than the cold fizzy water.
The same techniques can be used in marketing other commodity products and services.
The way to grow a commodity business is to stop focusing on the product or service you sell, and to focus on what the customer really cares about: The warm fuzzy feelings versus the cold fizzy water.
- Art Saxby, Founder & Principal
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