Be a Brand or Sell Your Love on the Street

 

In Thailand, everywhere you go there are a million opportunities to consume.

Food and shopping, food and shopping. Did you just go shopping? Let’s get some food! Etc.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course, but what boggles my mind is that despite the sheer quantity of street vendors and market booth operators hawking their wares, not a single one of them is doing anything to stand out.

Here’s a room full of shoes, and one lined with ripped off DVDs. Here’s one with knockoff denim and one with unbranded juice. Here’s one with souvenir trinkets and, ope, we’re back to the shoes. And there’s another DVD shop. And more denim.

It sounds impressive to say that there are thousands of booths at a weekend market, but is it really if every 5th person is selling the same thing? If there are maybe 16 different types of booth, and hundreds of each of them?

I don’t know if it’s due to a Thai tall-poppy syndrome or if it’s because they all get their food from the same centralized company, but it seems to me that all a shopkeeper would have to do to stand out is ANYTHING DIFFERENT. Anything at all!

But they don’t, so what you end up with is a shouting match.

The dude outside of this tailor shop tells you that he’ll make you some nice pants. The one at the next shop says that you’ve got a nice figure and he can make a nice fitted shirt for you. The third escalates things further by telling you he loves you and you should buy a suit (all of these actually happened, by the way).

And then there’s the price!

In a market where everything has been reduced to commodity status, most products and services have been cut down in price to the bare minimum; it’s amazing they’re able to eat with what they make in profit.

To quote Dan from Uncornered Market in a recent discussion we had on the topic, “I can’t figure out where the margin is.”

What about you and your product?

Are you standing out and creating your own market where there is little or no competition, or are you shouting as loud as you can to be heard above the hawkers next door, slowly lowering your prices and telling people you love them just to make a sale?

Don’t be a commodity, be a brand.

10 comments

  1. It’s a culture difference. They have been taught all of their life that they must be just like everyone else. In the marketplace, that translates into vendors being exactly the same. It’s not only who can yell the loudest but who can you draw you most successfully into their stall. They could do that by having different products and obtaining their wares from a different place, but they do not.

  2. Tis the way of the Asian countries, alas!

    I’ve been crooned at, complimented from male and female street vendors, all in hopes of making that sale. Sometimes, I stay to amuse them and try and actually chat with them but most of the time, they’re eyeing me with the “how much can she afford?” look. And especially being American, they are particularly interested in that!

    Come to Taiwan to visit next year and we can hit up the night markets together, Colin!

  3. Timely article for me. I have been struggling to try to find a way to brand myself for awhile now. I still don’t have a clear way to do it, but I am definitely try to work on it. I don’t think I am shouting with the rest of it :), but I don’t think I have a very established brand yet either. But I almost finished reading your networking awesomely ebook and I like the way you explained about your thought process and the type of impression you have wanted to give to people. I think you have done very good job at it. And this article is another good reminder for me to try to work on the same thing!

  4. It’s good thing the internet isn’t Thailand, and there isn’t as much of a gigantic block of cloned stalls that don’t do anything to stand out… aside from exercising their obnoxious attention-getting skills.

    It makes the internet a much more difficult place to get noticed. It’s nice to be able to just do some little thing differently and get noticed, but how beneficial is it really?

    When the whole world is combined into the web of online communities and connections, a lot more has to be learned to really, validly succeed. The bar is up above where we can reach it, so now the task is figuring out how to get up there.

  5. It’s good thing the internet isn’t Thailand, and there isn’t as much of a gigantic block of cloned stalls that don’t do anything to stand out… aside from exercising their obnoxious attention-getting skills.

    It makes the internet a much more difficult place to get noticed. It’s nice to be able to just do some little thing differently and get noticed, but how beneficial is it really?

    When the whole world is combined into the web of online communities and connections, a lot more has to be learned to really, validly succeed. The bar is up above where we can reach it, so now the task is figuring out how to get up there.

  6. Be a commodity, ad jobs are constricting, commodities are shooting through the roof.

    troll :/

  7. This post really had my head spinning with thought and a little bit of anger. I’m a licensed teacher with a Master’s degree. Due to the economy and a lack of funds to hire teachers, I decided to open a private preschool in my home. I totally get the idea of lowering your prices to get customers, I did it to get started. At the same time, I understand why these people are screaming out to get your business, they need to feed their family. I think the thing that gets me so mad is that when I was closed for the day after Thanksgiving, I actually had one of my clients complain about having to pay for the holiday. It is the only perk I take being self-employed. You want the business and you know that your customer doesn’t have an investment in you personally, so it comes back to doing or saying whatever it takes to make the sale, even if that means saying, “I love you.” So, please keep giving us these awesome posts, you are helping me as I try to work through what I really, instead of selling myself short to earn so little in respect, time, and finances.

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  9. I can’t decide if that style of hawking or the American perspective of “You need us” from the companies is worse.

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