A couple weeks ago a client of mine, Indy Food Cooperative held an informational meeting for their membership.
Part Of The Solution
Indy Food Co-op is a cooperative that was formed about 6 years ago to bring local, healthy food to Indianapolis and be a part of the solution to the severe food access and food desert issues that plague this city.
If those are issues close to your heart, you may know that Indianapolis consistently ranks as one of, if not the worst major city in the United States for healthy food access.
In order to be part of the solution, Indy Food Co-op opened Pogue’s Run Grocer; a healthy, local grocery store in the middle of one of the largest food deserts in Indianapolis. Before its opening, Pogue’s Run neighbors, many of whom don’t own cars, would travel several miles to buy groceries.
It has become both a local alternative and a destination for Indianapolis residents who are passionate about local, healthy, even organic foods.
David V. Goliath
But Pogue’s Run Grocer is small. It’s a Member-Owned store with a single location and little buying power. Sometimes the store struggles to remain sustainable.
One of the questions that was raised in the meeting went something like this:
“How can we compete better with our competition; the big stores; the Kroger's and Marsh’s and even Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods?”
It’s a good question. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions that I’m asked: ‘How do we compete?’
IT’S THE WRONG QUESTION.
Don't Compete On Their Level
Pogue’s Run Grocer has no business looking at large, chain grocery stores and wondering how they can compete on their level.
All the things that those regional and national competitors have going for them (multiple locations, buying power, manpower, large marketing budgets, not to mention brand recognition) are things that Pogue’s Run Grocer doesn’t have.
Maybe your business is in a similar situation. So, what can you do? What can Pogue’s Run Grocer do?
Change Your Mindset
My response to that well-intentioned question was that you have to change your mindset. You’ve probably had someone along the line encourage you to play to your strengths. That’s great advice. Let’s take it even a step further and also leverage our weaknesses.
What do you do that makes your business matter to your customers?
While Pogue’s Run Grocer may not have multiple locations, they do have a single location that has become a destination where they’re building a community that cares about their neighborhood and their local food sources.
What do you do that makes your business different?
While Pogue’s Run Grocer isn’t large enough to leverage any buying power, they’re free to source products and produce from the vibrant urban farm and artisan producer community in Indianapolis. For shoppers passionate about their local economy, this is a definite advantage over the chain stores.
What does your business do to let your customers know they matter?
While Pogue’s Run Grocer can’t afford the manpower to staff the likes of Whole Foods or Kroger, they pride themselves on the extensive knowledge and personal service that each and every employee provides every day. When was the last time you said something like that about a big box store?
How can you leverage limited resources to promote your business?
While Pogue’s Run Grocer’s marketing budget and brand recognition is a fraction of a percentage of that of a national chain, we can leverage the ideas of community and local economy and product knowledge and customer service in authentic ways that not a single one of those so-called competitors can touch.
We can craft and tell stories that convert all of those perceived weaknesses into characteristics that help us build an engaged community of loyal brand advocates.
- As you think about your business, your brand, ask yourself a couple questions:
- Why do you do what you do?
- What do you do that makes your business matter to your customers?
The answer to those questions will help you understand what differentiates your business from whoever you think your competitors are. Your job then, is to use brand storytelling to creatively leverage those things.
Spend your time and energy crafting stories that leverage your strengths (and weaknesses), not worrying about competing with the big players in your space.
Question: How do your weaknesses make you the right fit for your Ideal Customers?
Let's craft a story that highlights your strengths and weaknesses to resonate with your Ideal Customer. Click this link to schedule a free call with me.