I’ve just heard that a prestigious annual networking event has been cancelled through lack of interest. Shame, it has been a very good event on many levels, raising money for charity, giving students valuable work experience as well as being a great way to meet people. All this counts for nothing if people don’t want to buy. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, how competitive the price or brilliant the service if it is not relevant to your prospect’s needs and wants they will not buy.
Needs change. Interests change. Competition changes. If we don’t change we are likely to be left behind. It’s very easy to do what we’ve always done in the belief that people will continue to buy, but there comes a point when even our most loyal customers say they want a change. This is why it is so important to keep our products and services under constant review.
As I write this BBC Newsnight is screening a debate on £1 stores. Once the preserve of the working classes these shops now serve more and more middle class customers as family budgets remain under pressure. The £1 and less stores are now offering competition to the supermarkets. Recession is just one of the reasons people’s buying habits change.
Products have a natural lifespan
People get bored so every product and service has a natural lifespan unless it can be refreshed or re-invented in some way. Take the humble baked bean for instance, for years we’ve bought them in tins and emptied the contents into a pan to heat, now we can also buy them in easily microwaveable portion sized pots. We also have the option to buy a large resealable ‘fridge’ pot so that we can help ourselves to as many as we like over a few days. We can also buy a reduced sugar version. Heinz has continued to re-invent its staple product to respond to changes in lifestyle and, no doubt, to maintain sales.
How long have you been selling the same product or service packaged in the same way? Is it becoming harder to maintain your sales and profit levels? If so it might be time for a product review. So have a look at your products and services:
- Do they appear they dated?
- How do they compare with what your competitors are offering?
- Are new entrants to the marketplace doing well by offering a different approach?
- Can technology offer you a new way to deliver for your customers?
- Are they packaged or delivered in a way to appeal to today’s customers?
- Do they still meet your customers’ needs?
Be honest. Ask customers for feedback. Shop around. You might find the next big idea that will re-energise you and refresh your business before it is too late.