why would someone buy your thing?

do you ever have a day or a week when you keep seeing the same message over and over? like the universe is trying to tell you something? 

that keeps happening to me. one day i kept reading things and seeing messages that made me think of one thing: why would someone buy my thing when everyone else seems to be selling the same thing?

naomi at itty biz wrote a killer post about finding a niche. in it she said:

When I was in England, everybody and their mother was starting a children’s clothing business. They called themselves mumpreneurs and they set up shops in their garden shed offices and put a shiny new website on their credit card and Voila! They were in the children’s clothing business.

I read about this phenomenon — although it was never called a phenomenon, and every writer treated each individual mum as if she was scandalously unique — in psychology magazines, business magazines and, repeatedly, home decorating magazines. Apparently there’s money in kids’ clothes.

When asked why they started these businesses, the answer was categorically the same. They were good at it and they really liked to sew.

i read that and thought: “gah! that is exactly how photography seems to be. everyone and their dog is doing it!” (by the way, naomi followed up with "Being good at something and liking it is not a sufficient business plan".)

then Jodi at mcp wrote a great post about competition between photography businesses. it was just what i was stressing about! (by the way, even for non-photographers i think her advice is worth reading.)

then at the virtual photography studio i read a post called how to stop justifying your low, low prices. and here was a piece of advice:

Stop being average. If you do what everyone else does, you’ll get the same results they get. The only way to be better than average is to quit striving for average. Ask yourself questions like, “What can I do to be the best photographer in my niche?” Take what someone else is doing and add more to it. That doesn’t mean give them more photographs at a cheaper price. It means give them more service to make them appreciate what you do. The problem we’re facing now is we have a whole lot of average, so we don’t even know how to find the WOW. Give a little bit more, and you’ll soon be the talk of the town.

i know i am not the only one thinking about the competition and how to stand out among the rest. the question is what are you going to do about it?

what is your unique selling position (USP)?

this is the thing that makes your thing different from all the other similar things out there. ie: why should someone buy your thing instead of someone else’s. and here is a tip: your USP should not be your price. someone else can always start selling their thing for less than yours. and if you need or want to change your price you need a reason for people to follow you. that reason is your USP. (i will pause here in my list to tell you to go sign up for naomi’s free course at itty biz.com. it rocks and you will be able to figure out your USP with her awesome advice.) 

can you create a niche for your thing?

if you really rock at doing your thing for a specific group of people, especially if you are the ONLY person who really rocks, you will become the go-to person in that niche. can you focus your efforts to one smaller portion of your market? can you branch into an area that no one else seems to be doing? can you think of an area that is outside of, but related to, your regular market that you can tap into? if you have a lot of competition because everyone and their dog is selling handmade cards to mums maybe you could start selling handmade gift tags & gift bags to someone who is selling knitted booties and wants some really cool packaging. 

can you expand your product list?

alternatively, instead of focusing on a smaller niche, maybe you need to branch out and offer some new products and expand your niche. if you have great clients who love buying your baby bibs and blankies can you start making some book bags and pencil cases for school kids? maybe some funky hats and scarves for teens? if you can find out what your clients might want next from you as their needs change (ie their kids grow, or they go back to work, or become grandparents or whatever) then start offering that to them.

who is your ideal customer?

picture your perfect customer in your head. now make your thing, market your thing and sell your thing to that person. you don’t have to win over the entire facebook universe, just your ideal customer and her friends. other people might go buy someone else’s thing and that’s okay! they might not have been right for you anyways, and aren’t going to be the ones who buy everything you sell and pass your name on to everyone they know (your ideal customer will). focus on your ideal customer every time you do anything for your biz.

make sure your brand fits

so if you decided to branch out and make hair clips for teens because no one else was doing it, and your new niche is teens who wear school uniforms, and your USP is that you make hairclips for teens that match their school uniform and aren’t butt ugly, and your ideal customer is a mom of 3 teens who wear school uniforms and are willing to pay the big bucks so their kids have funky hair accessories that don’t suck, then your brand better not look like you are selling hair accessories for 3 year olds. 

while we are at it, make sure your brand stands out

if everyone else ‘looks’ cutsey and sweet then make your biz the only one that is punk rock. if everyone else ‘looks’ traditional and timeless then you be modern and funky. if everyone else is using a cute little bird on a tree for their logo then make yours a lion with razor sharp teeth. i am just sayin' if you want people to remember you the next time they are shopping for your thing, then you better start being memorable. 

ok, go work on being being awesome and let us know how it is going. share this post with others, add your comments, ask a question... please, i would love to hear from you =)