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Natural Selection


Natural Selection

12 April, 2021

Natural Selection

April 12, 2021

Three weeks ago, John Lewis announced several UK store closures, including the Basingstoke At Home shop, which opened its doors in November 2015.

The company commented that the stores earmarked for closure were “financially challenged prior to the pandemic”. The lifetime of the Basingstoke location was less than six years.

You could decry the decision and throw accusations at ‘online’ (and plenty of people did), but the fact of the matter is not enough people visited the stores they so ‘love’ to spend cash. Moaning at the high street’s demise while signing for your latest Amazon delivery seems to be missing the point.

john lewis basingstoke

Lemon Squeezy

Meanwhile, I bought a net curtain online this week along with the wire and hooks to hang it. I used Amazon. At my desk. Without leaving my house. It all arrived the next day.

Evolving Ecosystems

Communities are changing fast. Commerce is changing fast. Big companies, fuelled by Internet ‘disruptors’ have eroded loyalty and made us greedy consumers.

Why care about local jobs and local taxation income when you can save a few pounds and get free delivery? Why ensure a local hotel gets a good price for a room when Booking.Com can pit all the hotels against each other to save you £10 and skim 20% off the margin?

Historically, small business and local communities were about ‘give and take’ – about trade and co-existence: Local people bartering and trading goods or services for an equivalent set of goods of the same value. This evolved into money, changing the balance of value. Local became national, national became global.

As more services and commodities move online, and as the world connects faster than ever, it makes sense that it’s harder than ever to compete on price as a measurement of value when making trades.

This leaves small local businesses in a quandary.

In a world with access to abundance, it is absolutely essential to identify and define a resonant value proposition.

While “disruptors” – such as Google, Booking.Com and comparison sites – are busy stripping profit margins we need to get smarter at connecting directly with our customers to survive, thrive and grow.

Natural Selection

Survival of the fittest is not about strength and beauty, it’s about being best suited for the immediate environment to keep going above and beyond the next creature. It may not seem ‘fair’ in 2021 (where everyone deserves a prize) but there always has and always will be winners and losers. As for “immediate environments”, they’re changing at a rate of knots.

In business, delivering what people want, rather than what you think they want, is the route to thriving. Although this is harder than ever in a world that is changing at such a fast pace, when you make life better for other people – by giving them what they want – you make things easier for yourself.

So for SME’s, good marketing is not about words and adverts, it’s not about price, it’s not even about Google positions; it’s about being bloody good in the first place – delivering a remarkable service for your target market, with a strong supply chain to back you up.

The customer wins, you win. Your supplier wins, you win.

This takes cultivating relationships, something very hard to do behind a computer screen. You can’t be all-things-to-all-people but you don’t need to be. And, you absolutely shouldn’t be.

But, if you have a strongly defined value proposition that underpins the way you do business, the chances are, you'll never be knowingly undersold.

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