You may have the most wonderful line of products everyone will love (at least that is what you think), but what problem does your product solve?
When I was first starting my sales rep business, I was selling ads in a printed Trivia/Tidbits newsletter on the upcoming Lewis & Clark (L&C) Commemoration. Since we lived right on the trail (just off Hwy 12 which, loosely, is the original trail), it was pretty easy to sell ads to the business along the route.
When I started getting questions about where to find Lewis & Clark Souvenirs, we saw an opportunity to expand in a niche market where they was a problem to solve: Where can I find L&C souvenirs to sell in my store?
Lewis & Clark Trivia & Gifts (my business name back then) became one of the leading sales rep business specializing in this niche. Although I visited stores from Montana to the ocean, I received calls from as far away as St. Louis from buyers looking for my products and from producers wanting to sell their specialized L&C products across different sections of the trail.
Near the end of the commemoration, I knew I would need to change my focus and began asking and listening to my buyers for an unanswered problem or need in their stores. Not wanting to travel so many miles anymore, I began to see that selling Idaho products to Idaho stores was a real niche that did not have a good answer in the marketplace.
I realize that not every producer can make these changes as easily as I did. It does take time to ask buyer questions (what are you customers looking for that you don’t currently have stocked in your store?) and find a product to fill it. But at the same time, every crafter, producer, artisan or small manufacture can see what is in the marketplace, watch the trends and listen to what their retail and wholesale customers are telling them.
As a product based business, Rob Fortier suggests the following steps:
… make a list of the problems your customers might have. And as part of taking care of them, I encouraged you to think of resources you could offer.
Now I want you to turn your attention to what you and your business could specifically offer and be someone’s solution. I’m not asking you to suddenly create products or services that are outside the realm of what you do. But I am asking you to look at what you offer and see how you could reframe it so it might make more sense to someone who is unfamiliar with what you do.
What can you do to solve a problem in the marketplace with your products?