It’s your choice.
 
Choice. That’s probably the most powerful word in business today. Anybody, and I mean anybody, who thinks they have a lock on a market will soon be scrambling for survival.
 
People have more choices today than ever before. Milk. Whole milk, 2%, 1%, fat free, butter milk, goat’s milk and soy milk are available at the country market in my town of less than 2,000 people. I can choose from more than a dozen bagged salad options. Our little local market devotes an entire 30′ isle to pet food choices. The perpetually empty bread isle offers at least 25 ways for me to buy bread. I can choose from English muffins to French bread to American white bread to Mexican tortillas. If I decide on tortillas, I can choose flour, corn, whole wheat or spinach. Then I must choose a size!
 
In a society crammed with choice, how does a business survive? You survive, and thrive, by being the best within your category. And you absolutely must support your excellent product with excellent service or you are finished. People have choices. Think you’re special? There are a thousand minds out there working on a way to knock you off.
 
The Iphone was introduced a couple months ago at $599. You HAD to use AT&T as your service. Bad move Steve Jobs. Less than 90 days after launch, Apple cut the price of the Iphone by $200 due to lagging sales. That made a lot of the $599 buyers very mad. Here’s the funny thing: IPhones are selling on Ebay for near their original $599 price! Huh? Remember those minds I warned you about? They’ve figured out how to unlock the IPhone. If you buy an IPhone on Ebay for $599, you can choose any service you’d like. People are still willing to pay nearly $600 for an IPhone if they can choose their phone service. Choice. If you restrict choice, somebody will find a way to run off with your piece of the action by offering choices.
 
How can a tortilla maker provide service? You certainly don’t need technical support for tortillas. Do you? If you sell tortillas, maybe you should consider offering support. No one else does it. Customers could call in for advice on how to construct a burrito. Don’t laugh, it could separate your tortilla business from the others. You’d better come up with something. Why must all tortillas be round? A square tortilla would be a better wrap for burritos as it would reduce the amount of filling that falls out of the ends! It will take guts to market a square tortilla. By offering a new choice, you create a new category. You are first to market in the category, you win until the others catch up.
 
Of course, you cannot be all things to all people. Offer too many choices and you’ll sink. But if you think you have something so special you can impose restrictions of choice on your customers, you’re wrong.
 
You win by being brave and innovative. You must boldly enter small segments and offer something unique that will appeal to that group. Be the best in a new segment and you’ll thrive, for a while. Then you have to look for a new small market segment to dominate by innovating something to attract that segment. Dominating small segments of the market will permit you far better margins than if you enter the battle for the fat, juicy center.
 
Just remember, people have choices. You want them to choose you. You can’t make that happen through advertising. Don’t waste your money. Get to work on being desirable.
 
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog