How to reach your peeps is just about always on my mind — it comes with the territory of being a marketing therapist. So here I was, two days ago, lounging around around the public beach in Puerto Vallarta. And I ended up, no big shock, watching the vendors who sell up and down the beach. It is an excellent case study of how to figure out what to sell to a specific target market.
In the area of two hours we were visited by quite a number of beach vendors. Here’s a list of the items we were offered:
Cooked skewered shrimp, topped off simply by one of the limes hooked onto another skewer.
Heavy blankets in various shades that could be used on the beach or as a rug at home.
Brightly colored large pitchers that looked like ceramic yet were actually wood.
Toys and gum from a basket.
Tuba-tuba, which is a chilled coconut drink served right into a cup from a huge hollowed out double gourd.
All sorts of jewelry – silver, shells, handmade.
Elaborately carved cold fresh fruit, your decision, from a head-balanced platter.
Music from the 3-group band, complete with voice and instruments (including a bass fiddle)
Music from a two-person steel music group percussion group, a 4-foot long instrument that unfolded and sat on a table, complete with sound system (battery operated).
Bracelets hand-woven together with your name on it
Big silver and mother of gem fish which are jointed throughout the entire body so that the fish “swim” when wiggled.
I’m not quite sure this is every thing, but the list covers most of the vendors we saw drifting by.
OKAY, let’s say that your job is to be the beach vendor on a warm Mexican beach. Some of your potential customers will be sitting in chairs under palabas, some will be already sitting in restaurants along the beach. Your job is to sell as much as you can from that which you are offering. Can you name the top 2 things to sell? Can you name the underside two things to sell? Remember that your own target market is beach goers, some of whom are foreign, some of who are locals, all of whom take the beach, and some of who are eating or drinking in restaurants. What are your picks for the 2 best things to sell to this marketplace, and the two worst things?
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Keep in mind, too, that you have to carry what you sell, walking in the sand, up and down the particular beach for miles and hrs a day.
My two picks for the worst? The brightly colored large pitchers, which usually look like ceramic but are made of wooden. They are awkward to carry, the vendor cannot actually carry more than about four at a time, and who on the seaside wants one of these pitchers right after that? Even if a potential customer was not within the beach, the pitchers are too large to easily carry home if you are a foreigner, and more than likely the locals avoid even use them as they don’t keep liquid. I think the guy who also chose to sell the pitchers requires a few marketing lessons!
My second choice for the worst to sell, although a close race, is the steel music group percussion. The instrument was massive to carry (requiring both persons) up and down the sand, hard to set up, and had to be hauled along with a fold-out desk and the battery-operated sound system. That’s a lot to set up and take down for just one song, even if you had good luck selling the music to a lot of people. Plus, many people besides the one person who paid for the music can hear it, so you aren’t specifically going to sell music to the next person, are you? And frankly, most beach goers are busy sleeping, reading, riding the waves, or strolling up and down the beach….. they don’t genuinely have hearing live music on their thoughts.
My two choices for the best things to sell? Straw hats, because lots of beachgoers get to the beach thinking they will not need a hat. But when they get there, they realize they do! The caps are relatively light to carry (I saw one vendor with a collection of about 50 straw hats on his head). As I watched him sell to someone on the sand, I actually realized he also had an upsell! He took leather braided rings out of his pocket and provided to add one to the hat just for a few more pesos. Smart guy : beach goers need hats, and they didn’t wear him out to have.
My second choice for the best thing to sell is the cold, fresh fruit. This both gives a beach person some thing to eat and quenches thirst. Really colorful and appetizing, and very apparent since most of the fresh fruit vendors carry the trays on their heads. It’s not costly, it’s healthy, and even the kids appeared to like it. It’s probably one of the easiest things to carry on the beach, as well as the tray actually gives the vendor a little shade as he walks.
The point for this is that there are many things to consider when you are determining what and how to sell to your target market. You do have to consider the pound of flesh it takes out of you, the costs you have in obtaining the product, plus, of course , what you believe your marketplace will want.
This doesn’t apply to the seaside vendors as much as it does to you, but one way to quit guessing what your market wants is to ask them! Work with a brief survey, talk to a subset of your prospects now and then, keep your hearing to the ground. You’ll be more apt to design something that is wanted plus needed than if you just place something on your back and start walking.