Don’t Just Sell The Product, Sell The Story, Says Retail Guru

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Consumers are spending their money on “value” and that has far less to do with the price tag than you might think.

That was the message delivered to a recent Manitoba conference by international retail guru John Stanley, an Australian specialist in the marketing of perishable goods

The days of low prices as the biggest lure are long over; today’s consumers want service, they want to interact with their supplier, and they’re spending dollars in ways that reflect their personal values, Stanley told an audience of specialty farm-based food producers and agri-tourism operators.

That value sought by consumers includes learning the story behind their product, such as who made it and where it came from, getting such good service that they will experience genuine delight from it, and having a buying experience that goes beyond the mere transaction of a sale.

“Consumers are now asking ‘what shall we do’ not what shall we buy?’” he said. “People should be coming into our businesses based on what we do, not what we sell.”

A good example of marketing that attracts customers on that basis is at a South African farmers’ market, he said. The market draws visitors in the thousands – simply by offering on-site bread baking and cooking classes. Visitors take the classes, then disperse into the farmers’ market to buy the ingredients they were using.

“There’s a six-month waiting list for this, “ he said. “Valuebased spending is learning new skills.”

Value-based marketing is also about story-telling. Make sure your marketing message is clearly communicating who you are and why you do what you do, he told the DFMC. Tell the story of your farm and have your photos on your brochures, as an example.

“People buy stories,” he said. “If you want to make a difference in the marketplace, tell the best stories.”

He also urged his audience to make use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to do that story-telling.

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