It is 'who' that matters; not 'what'
There was an article in the September 27 issue of Business Week which discussed textbooks for college students and the new ways students can get books. The article mentions rentals, PDF downloads, and several other options.
As I read the article I begin to think about those of you who read this newsletter and are in the bookstore business; specifically those in the college bookstore setting. When I have visited with their associations I have had many of you tell me what a large percentage of your business comes from text books and how the other products (clothing, notebooks, and all the other accessories a student needs) are the small portion of your business.
The same goes for the neighborhood pharmacist. I hear from them that what is sold in the front of their business (gifts and 'over the counter' medications) may only be five to ten percent of the total sales in the pharmacy.
The bookstore is already seeing the challenge of their main product being changed. The pharmacist is going to have to guess as to what is going to change by prescription drugs in the coming years.
My point? My concern? One concern is a business that has that many 'eggs in one basket'. And it is a basket that you cannot control. My point is that we are dealing with customers, and laws, that are changing. These changes are out of your control. Even for businesses other than these two examples, there are aspects of business that are going to change for every type of small business.
So that you can control the destiny of your business, let me suggest looking at the 'picture' of your customer and your business in a different frame. When we think of our business we often think of 'what' we sell. We allow that thought process to frame what it is that we do and sell.
What if you changed the frame to focus on 'who' you sell to? For the college bookstore, focusing on the student means we are going to sell to the student what the student needs and wants. (Just ask their parents, they have plenty of both). If we insist on being a bookstore, what happens when the information the student needs is available in something other than a book?
Students are not going to go away; their wanting and needing to spend money is not going away. But a properly focused business is going to find themselves shifting to the current, and future needs of the student.
The same is true for the pharmacist. Prescription medication may continue to have changes with regard to insurance plans and what the pharmacist is paid. But the front end aspect of the business is 'fair game' to whatever the business owner wants to sell.
Continue to sell the 'what' and you may find yourself being affected by how the world dictates. Sell to 'who' and your business will morph as necessary to address the needs and wants of a customer as well as give you a reason to still be in business.
The September conference call dealt with financials and was a review of many of the questions I have received over the last couple of months from e-retailer newsletter readers. If you missed the call when it was live on September 28, you can visit the link below to download it or listen to it through your computer.
The October e-retailer conference call is not yet set. The reason for this hesitation is our daughter and my mother both have birthdays during the week of the conference call and I have to wait for the family to decide if we are having any parties or going out to dinner.
Our topic for October is going to be the Profits Plus website and many of the calculators I have created for your free usage over the past decade. I will be preparing a list of the calculators I want to cover, and will welcome your suggestions for specific calculators to be discussed. Perhaps there is a calculator you are trying to use but are having a challenge with; there may even be suggestions from participants for new calculators.
Thanks to a participant from Canada, we found that the conference call number did not work for them for the September call. Therefore, we have a new number for the conference call that I have been assured will work for anyone, anywhere in the world. The new number is 805-360-1000.
You will get an invitation about 6 days before the conference call and again on the morning of the call. They are always free; all you have to do is call in.