Marketing lessons from a 310-million-year-old fossil.
For today’s lesson, we’re going to reach deep into Amazon’s catalog and take a peek at what capitalists have been dreaming up.
Contemplate, if you will, the lowly toaster. For years, it was such an undistinguished commodity that you didn’t even have to buy one. You just had to open a bank account. What could a toaster possibly give you that would make it worth going out and buying one on your own?
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But then someone looked at that commodity product and saw opportunity. The result doesn’t just toast your bread – it solves your English muffin (and bagel) problem. “Custom toasting algorithms” (editor’s note: lol) toast your muffins and bagels perfectly the first time every time. And “auto glide” lowers and lifts so toast never gets stuck, no matter what you’re toasting.
Now, you may not think this is a big deal. But there are people who take their bagels seriously enough that if they accidentally wandered into Einstein Brothers, they’d feel duty-bound to call the FBI to report a hate crime. The New York Times just sparked controversy when they declared “The Best Bagels are in California (Sorry, New York).” So you’d better believe there’s a market for turbocharging toast.
The bottom line here is that someone’s selling a toaster for $299. And if they can do it, you can, too. OK, you’re not in the countertop appliance business. But you can take a commodity service like the tax preparation or bookkeeping you’re already offering and add your own custom toasting algorithm to add value and distinguish yourself from your competition.
You can build your algorithm around new and better services (planning, anyone?), specialized expertise in your target market, or anything else you can think of to make yourself more valuable than your old self or your competitors. And don’t let me hear you saying you can’t charge higher fees – if a toaster can sell for $299, you don’t have to be afraid of charging more than “the going rate”!
The Briefs is a weekly column on marketing and business planning for tax professionals and financial advisors looking to better serve clients and grow their business.
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