Businesses often describe themselves in terms of their products: The “auto business,” “coaching business,” etc. These are all examples of product-focused definitions of a business. The problem with defining your business in these terms is that products come and go, leaving your business floating in the wind and constantly changing how it describes what it does. I know I’m guilty of this myself from time to time.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what we do. But, there’s a different method of describing what you do that stands the test of time: market definitions. I can hear you yelling, “What the heck does that mean?” Market definitions describe a business in terms of how it satisfies its customer or the customer satisfying process, for lack of a better title. The basic needs of your customers and the customer groups that exist within your market are forever. Tapping into that is the key to defining your business.
Let’s take transportation for instance. Transportation is considered a need. Horse drawn carriage, automobile, railroad, airplane, ship and truck are considered products that meet that need. So if you say you are in airline industry, shift that to the transportation industry. What this shift does is expand potential growth opportunities. If you are in the airline business you can only do business with airplanes. But what if meeting your customers’ needs requires a boat? I guess they’ll go to the “other” guy to meet that need. If you are in the transportation business, you can meet all types of needs without having any conflicts.
Let’s look at a few examples of how some large companies have used this method to get a better idea how you can use it in your business.
Union Pacific Railroad
You may or may not know the Union Pacific Railroad. They move tons and tons of cargo throughout the country on their railroad. They could say, “We run a railroad.” if they were product-focused, or they could say, “We are a people and goods mover.” if they are looking at it from a market focus.
I’m sure you’ve used a Xerox copy machine at some point in your life. If you were looking at what they do in terms of their products, you’d say, “They make copying equipment.” If you shifted to the market definition, you’d say, “They help improve office productivity.” See the difference? Let’s look at one more.
I know I’ve watched a Paramount Pictures movie before. How about you? They could say, “We make movies.” Or they could say, “We market entertainment.”
Now it’s your turn. Do you describe your business in terms of your products or what you deliver? Take a stab at writing the shift from product to market for your business in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and be well!
Hi, I'm Tiffany! I'm a business coach and consultant who believes businesses with soul is the way to go. That's why I've made it my mission to help entrepreneurs live out their business purpose and grow their ideas into profits. Meet other like-minded entrepreneurs now in the Dreamer & Creator online community.