Apples are harvested exactly once a year, but that can be hard to believe when you visit modern grocery stores. Grocers can offer apples every day of the year because producers have found ways to store them for long periods and import them from other countries.
Not that long ago, news was hard to come by. When magazines and newspapers arrived on the train, every word was read. Ads were filled with copy, since the ad itself was usually the only source of information consumers had about the products they bought. Some news was out of date, of course, but it couldn’t be helped. Today we can read the news 24/7, and we hear of events almost as soon as they happen.
Every business must find a way to provide something unique. Grocery stores have responded by stocking dozens of different types of apples, trying to locate heirloom varietals that can’t be bought in just any store. News outlets still try to be the first to report a story, but they have also hired influential opinion makers, offering unique voices that can only be read in a particular newspaper or magazine. In this way, these entrepreneurs continually create one-of-a-kind offerings, even in product categories that have been around for centuries.
Today, almost everything can be bought anywhere at any time. But if you can find a way to make your products or services unique you will be able to create value in the mind that will appeal to a specific audience. For blank page entrepreneurs developing new businesses in an already cluttered landscape, differentiation is a critical skill.
Paul's Preposterous Proteins
Butcher shops have largely been replaced by grocery stores that sell almost anything. Even high-end steaks and chops are available at grocery stores that serve the more affluent. Paul's Butcher Shop had been a local staple for two generations — his grandfather had passed it to his father who would soon pass it to him. But sales were slow and Paul knew he had to find a new way to add value to the experience in order to keep the customers coming in.
Paul loves adventure travel. He's scaled mountains in Mongolia, traversed rivers in Africa and scrambled over ice in the Antarctic. In his travels he found that people in different parts of the world eat all kinds of unusual meat and fish. Why couldn't he bring this unique perspective to customers in middle America?
Paul began by creating a marketing campaign featuring some of his own photos from these incredible locations. He started featuring all kinds of unusual fish and meat in specialized displays that corresponded to places in the world where those kinds of foods were popular. Printed materials describing history and preparation techniques specific to each type of protein were handed to each customer, and samples were liberally offered.
Word quickly got around on social media when Paul began offering zebra and antelope, farmed in central Texas, as part of his new campaign. He began hosting dinners for select customers at local restaurants, creating promotions with well-known chefs to encourage demand among the more culinarily curious.
He was even able to get some local PR out of a limited run of unusual bugs. Eaten elsewhere in the world — but unthinkable in his hometown — it was something of a stretch for most of his customers. But that didn't keep them from coming by to see what all the fuss was about and purchasing a few ordinary steaks while marveling at his preposterous provisions.
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