How to convert your ‘unique story’ into a profitable business
We’ve all seen stories about the ethically sourced, ‘clean-green’ product selling for top dollar at the high end retailer in Double Bay, Sydney (it could be beef, pork, broccoli, eggs, and so on…).
The thing is, what is being presented here is often not that different to what a huge number of producers have to offer. The question is, why are these few being paid a premium, and how did they get into this position?
There is a process that you could follow, which is largely about Branding and Positioning, via a Marketing and Product Roll-out strategy (we deal with this in our programs, and this will be the subject of future articles). However, in reality, it boils down to a few things that must be considered before you embark on this process:
- Willingness to put yourself out there
- Willingness to put in the hard yards up front
- Willingness to see it through.
NOTE: This is just as applicable to businesses that operate in a commodity market and e.g. sell to a processor or packager (i.e. Business to Business or B2B), as it is to businesses that sell direct to the consumer (i.e. Business to Consumer or B2C) – a fact that many in commodity markets don’t understand.
1. Willingness to put yourself out there
The key thing in telling your unique story is a willingness to stand out from the crowd, and BE and DO something different. This is broad generalisation, but many in agriculture are ‘afraid to be seen’. They are afraid to rise above others and stand out, for fear of being cut down for trying something different. It’s often called the tall-poppy syndrome, and is quite prevalent in Australia and in agriculture. For many, it takes significant personal will to overcome this tall poppy syndrome, but this must be overcome to succeed in this scenario.
Commonly in agriculture, this is linked to another scenario often called ‘how things are done’ or ‘how things have always been done’. To put yourself out there, you must then bust this sacred cow too…
2. Willingness to put in the hard yards up front
Once the commitment has been made to stand out from the crowd, the work begins. We discussed a ‘comprehensive Marketing and Product Roll-out Strategy’, however to cut to the chase, the single most important thing you can do is talk to your (current or prospective) customer(s). It cannot be stressed enough how valuable this is.
In the end, the only way your unique story will translate into ‘cash’, is if it speaks to your customers’ needs and solves their problems. When looking to position your business / product differently from the other noise out there, you will need to get clear on your Unique Selling Distinction (USD). This is really clarifying how you are unique, in direct response to your customer’s needs and wants.
Be prepared to go through a range of iterations of your USD, as well as refining your product offering, as you talk to more and more of your target audience. But each iteration will take you closer to the answer.
In a B2C situation, it might be that ethical treatment of animals is important (they want to know the beef they are eating has come from a source that respects and cares for animals), therefore your USD must speak to this problem, by specifying ‘cruelty-free’, ‘raised in a free range setting’, ‘using best practice animal handling techniques’ or highlighting relevant certifications.
In a B2B situation, for example, a processor may want to use some producer ‘clean and green’ case studies as they look to market the product in Asia or the Americas. By opening the conversation with them and discovering their problem, and identifying how your business can help solve that problem, then putting your hand up to go the extra mile to help them, you have positioned yourself differently [and stood out from the crowd].
3. Willingness to see it through
It’s important to remember that when pursuing any new venture, more often than not, it will take longer than you think to achieve results. It will often involve a range of ‘dry gullies’ which lead (or appear to lead) nowhere, and a range of setbacks which challenge your will to continue the journey.
Those who emerge successful are the ones that don’t give up. Often what will pull you through is:
- A clearly articulated Vision, or a picture of where you ultimately want to end up. This helps provide direction and focus, particularly when things feel they are going off the rails.
- A Business Plan. Developing a Business Plan or similar helps you think through all aspects of the proposed activity and provides goals and targets to meet.
- Accountability and support. Sharing the Vision, and the journey with others (whether it’s family, friends, others in the business) will make the entire process much easier, as you can share the ups and downs, and use these trusted others to keep you on track.
Could you translate your Unique Story into a profitable business?
If you’re interested in standing out from the crowd, the ABDI Agri-Business Management Program focusses on getting you clear on your USD.
Commencing in Brisbane 17-18 May 2018.