Why you should sell air

Ninja portrait

As I noted yesterday, my current survey here at Business is Personal asks “What’s your biggest marketing challenge?”

Yesterday, we discussed why 25% of respondents have said “Making time to do the marketing” and how they should go about fixing that.

Today, the next largest group (a very close second) is those who said “Differentiating my business from competitors” or offered a response that effectively means the same thing.

Consider “adding air” to the product or service you sell.

What I mean by air is something that:

  • Adds substantial value – from the customer’s viewpoint – to what you sell.
  • Doesn’t add substantial (or any) cost to what you sell (this is why people call it “air”)
  • Competitors haven’t bothered to add to their offering, so your product/service looks better/more complete, has a higher perceived/actual value.

The net result is that you can ask a higher price. You’ll stand out from the other guy.

Hopefully by now, I don’t have to say “Air is not lame, low value puffery”.

Example Air

Let’s say you sell premium brand house paint. Every hardware store and home improvement box store sells premium paint.

How in the world would you stand out? You can’t likely compete on price (thankfully) because they buy more in a month than you buy in a year.

Rather than try to meet the local box store’s price, talk about the time your customer will waste driving into town, dealing with traffic and talking to paint people who maybe don’t know paint. Sure, this means YOUR paint people will actually need to know paint, but they should anyhow.

Still need to add some air? You could negotiate with a local painting company to include drop cloths and stir sticks with the paint crew’s business name and 24-hour emergency number. Oh and print “Tired of this? We’ll finish the job.” on those items. Who hasn’t gotten 20 feet up on a ladder (or bit off more than they could chew) and wondered why in the world they didn’t get a pro to do the job?

Oops, I forgot a stir stick

Think about the last time you bought something that required additional pieces/parts. Doesn’t it annoy you to get home and find out you forgot something? Shouldn’t the sales / register staff where you bought that something take low-key steps to make sure you’ve got all the stuff you need?

Almost everyone complains about not having enough time to do (whatever), so go out of your way to save your customers’ time – and make note of it. How long would it take to drive from your premium paint aisle to the paint aisle at Home Depot? Put up a sign in your paint aisle noting that and thanking them for supporting a locally owned business.

Sell some air. Stand out. Be the best paint store in your county. Be the ONLY choice for someone who needs a can of premium paint, not because no one else sells it, but because no one else sells it and takes care of paint customers like you do.

After doing all that… your biggest marketing challenge WON’T be “Differentiating my business from competitors”.