Are You Selling a Commodity?

“You’re not selling a commodity unless you want to.  Seth Godin

It’s a short quote but it really says it all.  The Merrian-Webster Online Dictionary offers five different definitions of the word “commodity”.  Number 4 says: 

“a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (as brand name) other than price”

In a “big box” world, wide availability is a fact of life.  In the rare case where an item isn’t available from a Mart or a Depot, I can probably buy it online.  So how do I not sell a commodity? 

According to Godin, “You need to increase your value. If people don’t want to pay, it’s because you’re not delivering enough value for the money you’re charging.”

Aha!  Value. I have to sell value. It’s not the thing in the box that matters.  It’s how I deliver what’s in the box.  It’s how I back it up.  It’s how I treat people when they come into my store—or when they call on the phone. 

Value is in showing the customer how to use what’s in the box.  It’s standing behind it when there’s a problem.  There are a million ways I can add value and cutting the price isn’t one of them. 

Price cutting doesn’t add value.  In fact, price cutting decreases value.  I don’t want to buy the cheapest widget.  I don’t want to “settle.”  I want to buy the best widget and I want you to help me justify the price. If you do that, you’ll never sell a commodity.  And who wants to sell something that’s defined by “smaller profit margins?”  I know I don’t.

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