As businesses we treat our market like a pie.
There are only a certain number of pieces, and you have one goal: Get as much pie as you can!
Technically that is true. There are only so many customers in the world.
Here’s a fun quiz. If you had to guess, what percentage of total US retail sales do you think Wal-Mart has?
They are the behemoth in the room. They are the company that consumers (want to) hate and manufacturers (reluctantly) love.
Everybody, seemingly, is involved with Wal-Mart. So how much of the US retail sales market do they have?
According to Supply Chain Graphic of the Week: A Detailed Look at Walmart Statistics, the number is 13.8%.
Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the world, has 13.8% of the US market.
Doesn’t that number seems surprisingly low to you?
Before I looked at the stats I thought it was going to be somewhere in the area of 60, 70 or 80%. Nope. 13.8%.
Wal-Mart has 13.8% of the pie.
Let’s imagine for a minute that starting today, August 3, 2012, Wal-Mart magically gets, even just 50% of the market. 50% was something I thought they surely had. Let’s just say they get that today.
Their stores and stock would be decimated. There would be nothing left on the shelves. By Monday morning you’d be lucky to find a coffee maker, or shower curtain. It would all be gone.
So yeah, your market is a pie. There are only so many pieces. But how much of that pie can you really eat?
One of my most innovative clients is a dear friend of mine, Jamie Johns. He is a highly regarded pianist in Milwaukee.
He music directs, coaches, and accompanies for a wide variety of shows and people in Milwaukee.
How many musical theater productions and operas do you think go on in a year in Milwaukee? You probably would think that it’s a fairly small market for that sort of thing. I don’t actually know what the music market size is in Milwaukee. But I would think in comparison to other big cities there are probably bigger markets.
You would probably think of someplace more like New York for that.
Jamie is a highly sought after pianist in Milwaukee. While I don’t have percentages of market share for how much of the work he gets, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is near the 13.8% that Wal-Mart has of the US retail market share.
He is highly sought after in the Milwaukee music scene. But I’m quite sure he isn’t offered all the work. Just the same he often has to turn work away.
So he often gets calls from people that have work for him that he can’t do. Much of his time on the phone was often giving them leads of other pianists they could try.
In early 2011 Jamie came to me and said, “Sage, I want to build a website and I want to put all my competitors on it.”
I’d never heard anybody say something like that to me ever. In fact, in 13 years of doing this work I don’t think I’ve ever had a client that was even willing to mention a competitor’s name. Jamie wanted to make a list of all of his competitors.
This was his first design:
His homepage was his biography. It had a picture of him on the top left and gave his contact information directly at the top of the homepage.
Even that was an innovative approach. I mean, who just puts their e-mail, mailing address and phone number as the first piece of content on their homepage? Aren’t we supposed to make people work for that information? Shouldn’t we bury that somewhere on our website? Maybe put it under an obscure link titled “Connect”.
The number one thing people want from you is your contact information. That’s always been the case. Jamie gave it to them first thing.
So that concept sort of blew my mind. But then right there in his top navigation was the link: “Milwaukee pianists.”
It’s a comprehensive list of other pianists in Milwaukee.
It is the boldest thing I have ever seen anyone do in Web marketing. I mean, do you have the guts to put all of your best competitors on your website? I know I haven’t done it yet.
But do you understand what he has done here?
First, he can’t do all the work in the Milwaukee music scene anyway. And you can’t do all the work in your market. So he built a resource that had never been available before. It’s saved him time because he could just tell people to go to his website to find another pianist.
But then he also was helping his fellow musicians. He gave all of these pianists a nice presence online. In fact, over time, he built bio pages for each of these pianists. He has told me story after story of how grateful these pianists are.
But the brilliant, innovative strategy of it all is that he has become the center of the online universe for Milwaukee pianists. There is not a more up to date listing of these pianists anywhere.
If you had to take a guess, how do you think he does in Google for the phrase “Milwaukee pianist”?
Do you think he is on the first page of results?
What if I told you he IS the first page of results:
His site is the definitive source for Milwaukee pianists.
The number one page people go to on his website is this directory of Milwaukee pianists.
So yesterday he and I worked on his website again. He wanted a new look and feel. On top of that he wanted to reorganize the content.
This morning when you go to his website the homepage looks like this:
He has taken his Milwaukee pianists directory and put it directly on his homepage.
If you look at his top navigation you see that his biography is now the third link from the left. He did this because when he looked at his Google analytics stats he realized that the featured pianist of the month page was the second most viewed page.
He is simply giving people what they want.
If you notice he has also changed his tagline to be more focused on the directory than on himself.
He told me last night that he has a vision for the site that eventually his information will be removed from the top navigation altogether. He will just slide into the Milwaukee pianists directory like everyone else. He also has a vision of building a user generated review tool on the site so that visitors can rate these pianists. The audience will determine who are the best pianists in Milwaukee.
Some of the best Web marketing I have ever seen in my life comes from this pianist. Jamie Johns is possibly the best example of how we all should be thinking of 21st-century marketing.
Do you see how powerful he looks from his audience’s perspective?
First, he is an exceptional pianist. He is very comfortable with his place in his market. He doesn’t need to gloat or boast. He is probably the best.
By putting his direct competitors on his homepage he does many things here.
He’s giving his audience what they want.
He is featuring great pianists in Milwaukee.
And all along, he is becoming the center of the Milwaukee pianist music scene. It is sheer brilliance and boldness.
His vision of creating a user generated review tool where the audience decides who is the best pianist is so correct.
He is listening to his audience. He’s giving them what they want. He is putting them first.
Those last three sentences are things we as marketers say all the time. But it’s just bullshit. We don’t know the meaning of those words. We don’t really put our audience first. We put our obsession with the pie first. We must get all we can as fast as we can.
The ironic result is: we get less pie.
Our obsession with greed, growth and money is blatantly apparent to everyone. Everyone sees it. But yet we think we are doing a good job of pretending to be something greater than what we really are. All of our shiny marketing material is meant to cover up the dirty fact that we are all just scrounging desperately for pieces of pie.
The only people that are being tricked and deceived are us, the marketers. Every consumer on planet earth knows full well what we really want: their money.
And quite honestly that’s fine. Business is hard. None of us would probably do it if there wasn’t some sort of large reward potential. I get it.
But if you really want to make more money then you really need to understand what your audience wants. And then give it to them.
What if you built a directory of your competitors? You actually probably know your competitors quite well. How do you think that would make you look in the eyes of your audience?
You can see Jamie’s current site here: JJPlays.com – Milwaukee Pianists Directory