Peanut butter and jelly: Who would have ever thought about putting those two products together? One sticks to the roof of your mouth – while the other is sweet and squishy. Yet when combined with plain, white bread they become what is known as PB&J, and the result is explosive. The average American eats more than 1,500 PB&J sandwiches before graduating from high school.
Think about the affect on each product’s individual sales. Instead of being used as a product independently, when combined with something else, it broadens the market exponentially. It added value.
Two simple products. One simple idea.
Doing business the same old, same old way won’t create the success you desire. Consider this story. A little less than 40 years ago a couple of guys who had been friends since junior high school were floundering around trying to get their careers off the ground, and they were hitting a lot of dead ends.
With no luck getting started on a traditional career path, they decided to create their own jobs. They invested in a $5 correspondence course and learned how to make ice cream. Then, they managed to pull together enough money to open a little ice cream store in a small Vermont town. (Any guesses about whom I may be talking?)
This little ice cream store became a huge, international success, but the story could have ended very differently if they’d done business the way most of us do it. This dynamic duo could have served up some pretty awesome scoops of vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and maybe a little butter pecan to spice it up. By doing so, they may have made a fairly decent living for themselves and their families. Who knows, they might have opened up a few more locations. All in all, however, it would have been a pretty ho-hum story.
When you follow the same path and produce pretty much the same product or service as everyone else and your business becomes a commodity. Instead of following the tried-and-true path, these creative entrepreneurs decided to shake things up. They threw in all sorts of funky ingredients in big chunks creating just noticeable difference with their tasty treats. People like up outside their little ice cream store. Why? Because product was something they couldn’t get anywhere else. They gave people a reason to change their buying habits. They filled a void in the market by offering something new.
Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is noted to have said:
“It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.”
As you can see from the examples I just shared, you don’t need to create the next greatest gadget or shiny new sexy thing. It’s often the small enhancements or tweaks that create real value and uniqueness. Give the market something they can’t get anywhere else. Find your noticeable difference.
Editor’s Note: This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small Business Big Dreams program.