Let me tell you a recently forgotten secret
…all markets are just conversations…
…no mystery, no science, just people talking to each other, over and over again,… all the time.
…and more importantly, here is how you profit from knowing that secret…
When I was a boy, which is rapidly becoming a very long time ago, there was a vast and sprawling market every Sunday on the quayside in Newcastle, the city closest to the tiny coastal town I grew up in. It was a vivid and frankly over stimulating place,selling everything from fresh produce to clothing, live
pets and hardware.
People used to come from miles around to see friends, buy goods and catch up on gossip.
My favourite part of the whole event was one particular barker, a street vendor, selling everything from meat to towels from the back of a lorry in such quantities and at such a price that you would think and he often implied, that his stock had been recently stolen.
He was a performer of epic and enduring skill. By turns he would take the large and vociferous audience on a journey full of jokes, collusion and always ending by making an offer which appeared too good to be true resulting in colossal sales.
The best bit, by a country mile was when he was heckled. We are a blunt bunch in the north east of England and our humour is dark and often aggressive. The back and forth between this barker and his latest contender always had the whole crowd in stitches of laughter.
Importantly, the barker always engaged with every heckle and rather than put them down, he indulged and engaged the conversation, maintaining his patter, continuing the sales, knowing that the more entertaining the conversations were the more people would stick around and the more he would sell.
And this has been, until very recently, the story of all markets since history began. Places where people would gather and talk, compare, and swap goods and services with each other.
Until the recent advent of mass media, which reduced the conversation from a symmetrical one to a one way lecture about what we “need”and how we would feel when we have bought what we are told.
The Internet has now made it essential again to be like my favourite barker in Newcastle as conversations are going to happen whether we like it or not about who we are as businesses, what we are offering and how good it is.
Therefore the most profitable conversation you will ever have is the one with your customers…the same as the barker….engage them, entertain them and keep them around long enough for them to buy from you.
Take some time to look at the all of information you are sharing with the big wide world and ask yourself honestly….
- What conversations are you actually having?
- Where is the conversation being held? In which media? On which platform?
- What is making it a useful conversation?
- How do you hold people’s attention?
- How do you listen?
- What is the your intended outcome of the conversation?
- What you are doing going to bring that outcome about?
Building this conversation with your market will help you create real relationships, helping you provide what they really want build a thriving, vibrant business and perhaps be the subject of someone’s slightly nostalgic blog post in another twenty years time.