Topic Tuesday #56 2013/08/13 - "Knowing Your Audience"

Topic Tuesday #56 2013/08/13 - "Knowing Your Audience"

I have been, recently, coerced into thinking about entrepreneurial ventures. I have had owned businesses before and found I lacked some of the ability to sell the product, especially when it was a more esoteric property; myself. I just realized what it was that I was having trouble with, and it isn't going to make me any happier moving forward. I was playing to the wrong audience.

When there is a product, it has an intrinsic and esoteric value. We can equate it down to very substantial terms. Replacement value. That term can also bend into the realm of the vague and emotional too as it is human nature to displace emotions onto objects and sometimes personify them. Boats are always women. Cars are feminine, while trucks are masculine.  Once you name something... Well I am getting ahead of myself.
Replacement Value: How much did the item cost; to make, to assemble, to deliver, to paint, to store, etc. These are direct monetary measures.
Emotional Value: How much do you have invested into the object, as measured by; age, sentimentality, sweat equity, heirloom, quality, the general perceived worth.

Let's take a piece of furniture as an example. A Chippendale Chair. Thomas Chippendale original was
manufactured out of a particular three species of mahogany from Cuba, Honduras, and Dominican Republic, that is now extinct; it allowed for the finest details to be carved into the work. An original in excellent condition would sell today at auction for several thousand dollars, but only if authentic. Today, an imitation done in the style popularized by Chippendale has all the same form and function, but not the same wood, nor by the same hands, if hands even touched them, would go for a few hundred. The audience separation is clear. The tier that can appreciate the form and function of the chair, but cannot afford the original, buys the knock off, or worse, only looks at museum pieces. The poorest tier, will sit on a box, which serves its purpose equally as well as a Chippendale, I might add.

That was a product, but what of a service? Something with very little tangibleness.
Fixing a computer. Your laptop got a virus.
You take it to the big box store while a technician in unflattering clothes runs some diagnostics for a modest fee of $75 bucks, and then tries to sell you a warranty, and a new machine and a new hard drive, more ram, a laptop bag and an extra mouse, a USB hub, a Router and somehow... a new cell phone? But yes, the laptop is repaired, and you avoided the upsells.
You take your laptop to a buddy and for a case of beer or other such exchanged good or service they remove the offending software and have the decency to not look at your browser history. (That's worth an extra beer by the way).
Both have given the same level of service, in removing the virus, because your buddy does know what they're doing.
Here is where things get a little odd. Your buddy doesn't want a good or service, they want some cash because they have bills to pay.  Would you give them the same $75 bucks that you would have to the folks at the big box upsell-o-rama? In my experience, the answer is a flabbergasted no. Not only that but in my experience, I had someone cancel a check on me.  What I am pointing at here is that for some reason the value of the service suffers dramatically when it hits the wrong audience. As an example a former client of mine hear my price and gave me more because it was worth it to them. A buddy of mine made me feel bad for asking for gas money.

An individual cannot compete on the price that a mega conglomerate big box can get away with. An individual (read: entrepreneur) also should not try to. If your customer only wants to know how much it costs, then perhaps you are wasting your energy.

Know your audience and do not cow-tow to the ones that do not appreciate quality service and product.

Have you seen this disparity in goods and service prices? Have you ever tried to sell a craft and someone offered you $2 for nearly 4 days worth of your work? How do we get them to understand, or do we just say, "No, you can't buy it from me, but you can get something like it at the thrift store."

This can also be expanded to Science. Do laymen know the real value of the Large Hadron Collider? Do laymen understand that for every dollar that NASA spends it generates roughly 3 in return to various other sectors? (This is a conservative ROI as the real ROI figures are nearly impossible to accurately be determined.) Simply, no. They are the wrong audience for big science. Don't get me wrong here; that doesn't mean that they are uninterested. It means we must make them understand.