I have been in business for quite some time and I have been around the block a few of times too. With this amount of experience, it is sometimes easy to think that you have just about heard or seen all there is to hear or see. But the other day I had a client of mine, who is a very successful multi store operator, throw me a curve ball.
We were talking about a business that he was thinking about acquiring and right out nowhere he looked at me and said, “Well, what is their trick pony?”
I hope it wasn’t too obvious that I had no idea what he was talking about as I stood there with my mouth hanging open. The remark caught me completely off guard. But having ridded myself of the fear of looking completely ignorant a long time ago, I said to him, “I don’t have a clue what you are talking about. What is a trick pony?”
He explained to me that a trick pony is something that business owners, sellers, or marketers use to enhance the sales of a business.
OK, now I knew what he was talking about. In sales this is called a unique selling proposition or USP. In other words, a hook.
Once I understood what he was talking about, I could then begin to dissect the sales figures and figure out what the trick pony was for that business he was considering to acquire.
Most really successful businesses have a trick pony, a hook or a USP. For example one of the most well known USP’s was Domino’s Pizza delivered to you in 30 minutes or less or the pizza was free. Also popular was Federal Expresses “When something absolutely must be there the next day” slogan. These are only a few of the many different hooks that have been used to break through the clutter of the customers mind, grab their attention, and ultimately grab some of their money from their pocket. And in today’s marketing it is even worse than when Domino’s and Federal Express were getting started.
How about you and your store or stores. What is your trick pony? I have seen some convenience stores use soda as a hook: “Any size of Soda 59 cents”. Some will use coffee, some even use bananas. The point is that every store should have a trick pony otherwise what is going to set you apart from the next guy? Probably nothing. And that may be why your sales are about the same as the other guys too.
Don’t get me wrong I am not being critical, just the opposite. Through my travels and meetings with so many convenience store owners across the country I get to see a lot of different stores with fresh eyes and I want to be able to share that information with you.
I suggest you take a walk out into your parking lot and take a look at your store from that angle. See it as the customer sees it. Actually walk through the sequence of events that a customer would and experience your store from their perspective.
Remember the customer that frequents your store in the morning is different than the customer who visits your store at noon. And those are both different from the customer who visits your store at night. You really have 3 different types of customers so the same trick pony probably isn’t going to work for all three of them.
Nobody said that this was going to be easy, but it will be more profitable to you.
I will bet you that Tom Monaghan of Dominos and Fred Smith of Federal Express are glad they came up with a trick pony.