According to the International Ice Cream Association in Washington, D.C Vanilla is still the runaway most favored ice cream flavor in the United States with a 29% approval rating vs. number two, Chocolate, with 8.9%. Just to finish the thought – because I know you are dying to know – butter pecan ekes out a third place victory over Strawberry.
McDonald’s and Pepsi can serve vanilla. So can Charles Schwab, a Presidential candidate or General Motors – but can a small business? My short answer is “No” unless you have the type of money to market the “All-things-to-all-folks” message.
For us little guys, however, we can’t afford to be vanilla and be a break out success. We must be strikingly relevant in unique and contextual ways. If a business has competitors that do precisely the same thing – and we all have a bunch of them – then all of us fade into the background. Our quest, then, is to either out-spend them or out-market them. Since most of us will raise our hand for the latter strategy, this will force us to do a little homework.
Why do our loyal customers choose us?
What do they think makes us unique?
When they refer us – what are our qualities, or the things that we do, that they tell their friends about?
What are the most important benefits that they seek when they choose a vendor in our space?
Once we understand this – our marketing must scream this messaging – in our ads, our postcards, our invoices, our phone work, our networking and, of course, our websites.
Without uniqueness, we are just another scoop of vanilla in a 31 Vanilla Flavors display case. You know we are there – we are just hard to find! So as the customer strolls along the freezers with their nose up against the glass, they can’t see a difference between the vanilla offerings except for the price per scoop next to each tub. We are then subject to the only quality we have given the opportunity to compare against. Nobody wins in a price war.
Stand out or stand down!
To your success!