Sage Advice from a Marketing Expert!

An international hair-cutting chain opened a new store directly across the street from the small town's only barbershop owned and operated by a man affectionately known to the locals as 'ol'Joe'.

Joe and his barbershop were fixtures on Main Street for over twenty-eight years where he had enjoyed the privilege of trimming the hair on every man and boy in the community. Life was good for ol'Joe back then, but the new 'Haircuts-R-Us' across the street was intent on changing all that.

The new store had music, big comfy chairs, fancy sinks, bright colors, wall-to-wall mirrors and they had something else - a proven marketing strategy designed to put little guys like ol'Joe out of business.

Their strategy? Simply undercut [no pun intended] the competition!

Most folks were nervous for Joe as the word quickly got around about the competitions' Grand-Opening price of only $3.00 per cut. Ol'Joe didn't seem too nervous though, in spite of the fact he was used to charging $8.00.

Joe knew he couldn't compete with all the fancy things his new competitor had and he also knew his marketing budget was no match for their new neon sign ? the one that read, "Haircuts Only $3.00!" So he decided to compete the only way he knew how.

On opening day, amid the music, balloons and hoopla, townsfolk were lured to the new store with the fancy sign only to see ol'Joe had put up a new little sign of his own. Across the street from the new store, was a small 10" X 12" piece of white cardboard in ol'Joe's front window that simply said, WE FIX $3.00 HAIRCUTS!

In the end, ol'Joe prevailed.

This story is purported to be true but not new. Its telling serves to underscore the importance of understanding a few fundamental business facts:

? Having the Cheapest Price does not ensure success.

? Bigger and Newer? is not always best? and/or most profitable.

? Huge marketing budgets do not always crush the competition.

? Successful companies ? however basic ? are "Strategic!"

The computer reseller industry is a perfect example of this as both large and small 'IT-Providers' wrestle with new challenges introduced by the evolutionary changes in technology and the business landscape as a whole.

? Do resellers need the latest and greatest machineries/technologies to compete against the larger more formidable competitors?

? Where is the threshold between what resellers really need versus what they can afford / sustain - and still remain profitable?

? Where is the IT industry going to be in five years and do resellers understand how their company fits in? if at all?

All legitimate questions, to say the least. If it helps, resellers can take comfort in the fact, these same questions are being asked by entrepreneurs in just about every industry today.

Nonetheless, the question still remains, Are there any answers?

Successful 'profitable' resellers may not have all the answers, but they do have a strategy.

1- They have stopped trying to be all things to all people.

Successful resellers distinguish themselves by becoming specialists in one or maybe two areas. Simply put, we do not go to the foot doctor if our head hurts.

2- Their investment in technology follows two proven criteria:

a) Technology need only be current / not always leading edge?. Unless

b) The newer technology serves to clearly define their unquestioned expertise or "Unique Value-Add" to the marketplace. That is to say, to be different, one must differentiate. Sometimes ? but not always ? technology is the quintessential differentiator.

3- They offer a wider array of potential solutions to customers in spite of the fact, they specialize in only one or two areas. Their strategy? Strategic Alliances.

Successful resellers address customers' primary need to 'Keep it simple!' by presenting a One-Stop-Shop solution - but they don't go out of business providing it. Strategic alliances with other IT specialists ensure greater long term control and customer satisfaction by offering a "Solution-Sell" approach for all IT needs.

There is no question that in partnered solutions, some profit will be shared, however, some profit is always better than none at all. It is inarguably a small price to pay for the privilege of maintaining a close and mutually rewarding relationship with a good customer.

4- Successful resellers know that it takes, on average, five to eight times more time, money and effort to get a new customer [and/or employee for that matter] than it does to keep the ones they already have. A one-stop solution program designed to keep control of the customer, is integral, especially for building lasting and mutually rewarding relationships.

5- Successful resellers are proactive. They understand we live in a commodity-driven marketplace and the days are long gone when we could simply hang out our shingle and expect customers to beat a path to our door.

Whether it's mail drops, web-marketing, door-to-door canvassing or a blend of all three, a clear, long-term marketing strategy ? emphasizing an unmistakable expertise ? is essential to the success of any reseller in today's more competitive marketplace.

Few can argue the cunning in ol'Joe's strategy when faced with his formidable competition and there just might be a lesson or two resellers that could glean from ol'Joe's elemental approach.

I'm sure if ol'Joe were to pass along to resellers, a little sage advice, it may go something like this:

"Don't ever let yourself get too excited about the competition."

"You don't always need the biggest, the best, the newest or the cheapest, to compete."

"Work hard / work honest."

"Get a reputation for 'Standing-Out' by doing good work at what you do."

"Make friends with people in your industry for the times you need a partner."

"Treat people like they're special!? They like that? and that'll keep bringin' em back!"

Paul Shearstone aka The 'Pragmatic Persuasionist' is one of North America's foremost experts on Sales and Persuasion. As an International Keynote Speaker, Author, Writer, Motivation, Corporate Ethics, / Time & Stress Management, Recruiting Specialist, Paul enlightens and challenges audiences as he informs, motivates and entertains.

To comment on this article or to book the Pragmatic Persuasionist for your next successful event we invite to contact Paul Shearstone directly @ 416-728-5556, 1-866-855-4590,,, or

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