Every Business is a Commodity Business

Time to face the facts. Given nothing to prove them wrong, here’s what your prospects believe - one business is just like another. Any accountant can complete my tax return, any electrician can install a ceiling fan, and any restaurant can fill me up.
 
Now, I didn’t say it was true. In fact, you know it’s not true. But there you sit, doing nothing about it.
 
If you can’t find a way to differentiate your business from every other business that says it does what you do, and if you can’t communicate that difference in a way that really matters to a narrow target market, then you’re basically in the commodity business. If I can’t tell how one business is different than another, then I will use the only thing I can measure – price. Yes, the driving force in the commodity business is always price.
 
In case you haven’t discovered this yet, price is a crappy place to compete. I assure you that there is someone out there willing to go out of business faster than you.
 
So how do you get out of the commodity business?
 
Find something that separates you from your competition, become it, and speak it to everyone you meet. Quality isn’t it. Good service isn’t it. Fair pricing – not it. These are all expectations. A difference is in the way you do business, the way you package your product, the way you sell your service, the fact that you send cookies to your clients, the fact that you show people how to transform their lives – it’s in the experience you provide.
 
I have an exercise for you. I want you to answer this question: “What do you do for a living?” The trick, though, is that I don’t want to hear what your title or profession is. I want to hear how what you do for a living is going help me get what I want.
 
Most small business is done face to face or over the phone. So, when you can come up with a statement that makes me beg to know more about what you do for a living…then you will climb out of the commodity business and into the premium business (as in, you can charge a premium for your services).
 
Here’s a simple formula that will help you with your answer to the “What do you do?” question.
 “What Do You Do For A Living?” = I (Verb) + (Target Market) + (Something that matters to the target)
 
•  I teach small business owners how to triple what they make (marketing coach).
•  I show women-owned businesses how to grab a huge share of federal grant money (consultant).
•  I ease the fears of expecting parents (financial planner).
•  I create financial rescue plans for the financially stranded (credit counselor).
•  I bring comfort to the hot and sweaty (heating and cooling company).
•  I show contractors how to get free from their business (attorney).
 
Do you get the idea here? Making a statement like this forces you out of the commodity business and immediately begins to communicate how you are unique.
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John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award-winning blogger, and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, published by Thomas Nelson, 2006.

He is the creator of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Marketing SystemTM.