Be Careful Whom You Copy
While grocery shopping one Saturday, a man asked me if I knew anything about mayonnaise.
I answered that I did.
I explained the difference between the two brands he was considering.
I discussed the texture, flavour, ingredients, fat, calories, sugars, oils, additives, and other contents for their regular and light versions.
I explained the differences so he would know the better option for his needs.
I gave him too much detail.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a mayonnaise connoisseur by any stretch, but I had recently lost 41 pounds by tracking what I eat, ingredients, and nutrition and trying different brands.
So, while not a food expert, I can explain a variety of foodstuffs in some detail.
While I even surprised myself at my knowledge of mayonnaise, I was happy to help him make the best decision.
At least, I thought that until I saw him later in the store.
At first, it was fine. After a friendly hello, I asked him how he got on with choosing his mayonnaise.
He looked at me sheepishly, picked the bottle he chose up from his cart, and with a red face, stated that he probably made the wrong choice.
He also said he knows it's probably not as good as the other brand, and he'll likely regret it.
But he'd made his choice and was sticking with it.
Of course, I was surprised by his decision because he chose the lesser brand.
I was dismayed that by ignoring my advice, he would also miss out on the quality of the other brand.
So, I asked him why he chose it if he agreed the other brand was better suited to his needs.
His answer surprised me, and it shouldn't have because I experienced it with small business owners too.
He said he watched everyone else for a while, and more people chose the other brand, so he did too.
He should have realised that most people chose the other brand because it is heavily targeted and advertised to the demographics of people who shop at that store.
I realised then that he was, in essence, like most small business owners, copying other people's purchasing behaviour, not because they preferred it or it was better for them, but because they were more comfortable doing what everyone else was doing, choosing the most popular option.
Sadly, this is what I see small business owners doing, too; copying what other business owners are doing, making choices and sticking with them even when their gut, or an expert, tells them it's not right.
This is a problem because it’s common knowledge that only 10% of businesses - 1 in 10, survive longer than ten years.
This means that if you copy what everyone else is doing, there is a 90% chance your business will fail too.
If you don't already know, I know a fair bit about small business' success and failure.
That's because I have experienced both and completed a doctorate in business administration, studying what leads to small business success and failure.
No one wants to talk about ‘failure’, but it's easier to pinpoint what leads to failure when studying success, and the leading cause is a lack of business knowledge.
Specifically marketing knowledge, which leads to most businesses closing.
The sad fact is that most small business owners copy others because they don’t understand enough about marketing to know what’s right for their business.
When you think about it, it makes sense that so many businesses close because they don’t understand marketing.
Owners don’t start a business to be a marketing expert, and marketing is complicated – confusing, constantly changing and expensive.
I understand the challenges of learning new things and of copying others to fit in.
That's why I created the marketing strategy app.
So small business owners don’t have to copy what other businesses are doing and fail along with the rest.
So, they know what is best for their business and can confidently make decisions knowing their business will grow.
Your business will grow, too, if you are careful whom you copy, don't go against your gut, and get expert marketing strategy help.
You won't regret knowing how to make better decisions, and you'll be in the 10% of businesses that last.
Dr Raewyn Sleeman
Coming soon to the Apple App store.