It’s a honey festival. What would you expect? Honey! And honey is a commodity, right? It’s all the same. If you want honey for a recipe, or to add to some hot tea, you pick up some honey at the store.
My view of honey completely changed when I attended the Lithopolis Honey Festival last year. I left not only with new information about honey, but also with observations on how to make nearly any business stand out.
Arriving at the festival, I see the streets have been closed to allow for tents to fill the streets. People are everywhere, crowding the vendors. With so many people milling about, how do the honey manufacturers attract customers?
As my family walks down the street, we stop to visit each table. I begin to notice how wrong I am about honey. There are innumerable ways that each company is different.
Here are a few ways that I began to see the differentiation:
Don’t sell a product. Entertain the audience. Crowds gather around to see “Bee Beard.” That’s where a man of perhaps questionable sanity has somehow managed to create a beard made of hundreds of bees, extending down his body and circling his head. From the number of people crowding around, it’s clear that this team is successful. It’s hard not to stop and take a look.
Use personality to develop loyalty. Some honey producers were present in the aisles with a friendly smile. They were not accosting or overly aggressive. These savvy customer service honey sellers met us in an engaging way, answering questions. Somehow in the first minute, we know the history of the business and the family. You don’t need an academic study to know that you are more likely to buy from someone you know.
Create unexpected flavor. Did you know that honey could come in cinnamon or raspberry? Resisting the chance to try various flavors is futile, so we stop and taste a few. Now we are comparing notes, sharing tastes. Engaging with a product in this way increases the sale opportunity.
Develop a new product category. I didn’t associate honey as in a health food category until visiting one booth. Whatever your ailment, I see that it has an answer. The honey here claims everything from offering nutritional support for your liver to reducing pain. I can’t help but notice the average age at the booth when I visit is higher than other parts of the fair.
Use the power of neighborhood. Local honey within miles of your home apparently helps to reduce allergies. That’s what I’m told. It makes a difference in taste. And who doesn’t want to support local farmers?
Highlight inherent product differences. Related to flavor and geography, I am met with someone who explains that the type of flower the bees use makes a difference in the product color and properties. Avocado, for instance, creates a darker honey. Each one has a distinct taste.
Imagine new product lines. Clever artisans display a number of derivative products. Honeycomb, wax, crèmes, candles, and numerous other products like t-shirts and bags line some stands. It creates conversation.
How are you differentiating your business? Do you have a deliberate and consistent plan to stand out? How do you use your unique position to make an impact?