Growing business, lessons from gardeners. Lesson 1.

In many ways growing a business is like growing a beautiful garden. Every good gardener knows she has to choose the right plant to match the conditions she has available. In business we have to have products and services that customers want to buy.

It doesn’t just have to be beautiful it has to be right.

Meeting customer needs and wants.

Plants have to be chosen to suit the conditions and our offers need to match what prospects want.

It doesn’t matter how much a gardener loves a particular plant if it is not suitable for the conditions it will not thrive. The gardener will test the soil for pH levels and nutrient content as well as considering the type of soil, the amount of moisture and the amount of light available. Only when they have all of this information to hand will they choose a plant which has the characteristics to thrive in that environment. So why do so many business owners fail to do sufficient research before they launch a business or introduce a new product?

Customers buy what they want not what they need.

Too often we base our offer on what we know our target market needs but customers will only buy what they want to buy! A need, on its own, is insufficient motivation for people to part with their money. It is only when need meets desire that a sales opportunity exists. As business owners we need to research what our prospects want. Most people buy for one of two reasons, either to solve a problem or to give themselves or someone else good feelings. In the current economy solving a problem is more of a motivator than retail therapy. But the problem still has to be one your prospect wants to solve.

I might be overweight. I probably understand that that is a problem but unless I care enough to do something about it you will not be able to sell me a diet package. My clients might know that they need a new website but until they feel that website is critical to their business’ success they will not invest. So as business owners we need to know what problems are keeping our prospects awake at night or occupying all their waking thoughts. That understanding will tell us what products or services we should be offering.

Market the solution

Once the gardener knows what growing conditions they have they will research plants suitable for those conditions. They’ll get the books out, they’ll browse the seed catalogues, they’ll search the web and read the labels in the garden centre. Unless those books, catalogues, websites and labels specifically mention how the plant is suitable for the exact growing conditions the gardener has they will be unlikely to buy. In the same way our marketing materials need to be very specific in showing what problems our product or service solves and how. We need to be clear about where our prospects look for solutions and then make sure that they can find us where they are looking. So what is your equivalent of the reference books, the plant catalogues, the garden centre, the plant labels etc? How will your prospect find you?

I’m off to take a fresh look at my offers and my marketing. How about you?

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2 thoughts on “Growing business, lessons from gardeners. Lesson 1.

  1. Glenda – another great article. Independent businesses have to compete with the large marketing budgets, and therefore targeted marketing is so important. So my thinking cap is on, and let us beat them at their own game! Lisa

    • Thank you Lisa. Sometimes having a smaller budget is an advantage because it forces us to think about what we are really trying to achieve. In many ways the independent business has the advantage of being so much closer to the customer that it is easier for us to hear what they want but the trick is to be listening for it and then (and this is the really tough one for the smaller business) acting on what we hear.

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