The Grapevine

Retail Wine Business Tips: Being Better Isn’t the Answer

June 24th, 2014

It’s tempting as business owners to always strive to be better. And while continually improving your business’ performance is an important part of thriving in a competitive world, it’s not enough. In fact, if you are pinning your hopes for long-term sustainability on being better, you are destined to fail. Here’s why: [level-members]

Don’t forget that being better isn’t a great idea that you woke up with this morning for the first time. You’ve been thinking about it for a long time. So has everyone else. And as you improve, they improve. Or they go out of business and someone eager to improve steps into their place.

More important, though, is that your customers just don’t care. It’s simply not what they are thinking about. Yes, they may have an opinion about whether you’re better or worse than your competitors, but except in the most extreme cases – typically where a competitor is truly awful – it’s not what drives their decision making.

So what does drive consumer behavior? To a great degree, it’s how you differentiate yourself. What sets you apart from the competition? Do you have a “hook” that makes it easy for people to sum up in just a few words what you offer? That’s what makes for successful marketing because that’s what differentiates you, in reality and in public perception, from your competition.

This means planting a flag, though, and standing for something in particular. That can be a scary idea to many, since it means you can’t be all things to all people. But it’s the only way to create a brand or personality for your shop.

Here’s an example: there’s nothing wrong with selling mass-market wines, but you have to be doing so with purpose. Selling cheap wines just because they’re an easy sell only works if that’s the niche you want to carve out. That means being the biggest volume, lowest price seller of these wines. That means dominating a niche completely enough that others will have trouble competing.

You can go the other route, as well, and sell only the most exclusive of wines. (Assuming you are located in a community that can support that.) But either way, you have to make a choice to NOT appeal to everyone and instead appeal to one segment of the market that you know you can serve well.