I’m having a baby.
Not literally you understand, I haven’t defied the laws of nature and managed to get a baby growing inside me.
My wife Grace is pregnant, so we’re having a baby.
And it’s VERY exciting, for all sorts of reasons. Not least the fact that by the end of September, we’ll have a living breathing human to look after.
But in addition to the emotional excitement, I’ve really been enjoying the whole pregnancy process from a business perspective too.
I’m currently experiencing an incredible lucrative market that I’ve never been exposed to before.
If you’re not having a baby, you don’t buy baby stuff and you don’t tend to spend time thinking about baby stuff.
But when you ARE having a baby, all of a sudden you’re in a new demographic – the ‘expectant parent’ bracket – and a whole range of retailers selling a whole range of products and services that you’ve never even heard of before are jostling for your attention.
There are all sorts of things that I’ve learnt about this £1.4bn market – from product benefits to premium pricing – but there’s just one particular story I wanted to share with you.
Generally one of the most expensive purchases that expectant parents will have to make is the pram, and with that in mind we’ve already started looking at them – it’s better to do your research and get the best deal than just strolling into a Mothercare and paying well over the odds.
As well as doing the online research and going into a couple of stores, we’ve also asked a few trusted friends which pram they would recommend.
What’s interesting is that all of the research, all of the online reviews and all of the advice from friends has resulted in just two contenders, out of hundreds of potential manufacturers.
In the opinion of the overwhelming majority, if you’re getting a pram then you should be getting it from iCandy or Bugaboo. End of story.
Beckham with his Bugaboo
It also happens to be the case that those two manufacturers sell among the most expensive items on the market.
My point here is that iCandy and Bugaboo have a MASSIVE advantage over their competitors because they are the ‘go to’ people for prams, and consequently, they automatically get a large slice of the pram pie when parents are deciding which one to get.
The question of how iCandy and Bugaboo have managed to secure this reputation is a whole study in itself – with smart marketing messages and celebrity endorsements figuring heavily in both manufacturers’ journeys – but it’s one that’s well worth doing for the simple reason that there’s a lot we can take and apply to our own businesses.
If we can make our businesses the ‘go to’ solution for whatever it is we provide, then the chances of us making a sale go up considerably. And generally we need to think very carefully about our market and our message in order to give ourselves the best chance of becoming the ‘go to’ solution.
Private Client Carolyne Wahlen is a good example of this. An HR specialist, Carolyne works with a number of different businesses to help them stay protected, legal and compliant.
She’s very, very good and she does extremely well in the small business market, but nonetheless HR is a competitive field, and there are a lot of other HR practitioners out there.
Consequently, Carolyne has made the decision to niche down and compete in a market where she can position herself as the ‘go to’ HR specialist – the golf club market.
Carolyne’s Golf HR business effectively provides the same service as her Gap HR business, but because her business has got ‘golf’ in the title, she references golf in her message and showcases dozens of testimonials from happy golf club managers, she’s able to be seen as the ‘go to’ person for golf clubs who need help with HR.
If we’re able to make our product or service the ‘go to’ solution in a particular market, we’ve got a heck of lot more chance of having success there. Bugaboo and iCandy prams are a great example of that, and Golf HR is too.
So the question we need to ask ourselves is: what needs to be done to elevate our businesses to that status? Do we need to switch markets or niche down? Do we need to get a celebrity endorsement? Do we need to rethink our message?
Right, I’m off to pick up my iCandy Peach 3….