Are you marketing beans or frijoles?

Maybe there was an upcoming chili cook-off. Maybe there was a corresponding sale on Bean-O. Or perhaps the blizzard warning inspired a desire  for comfort food. Whatever the reason, my Kroger grocery store was out of black beans. But I knew where to look.

“No one ever buys the frijoles negros in the international food aisle!” I exclaimed to my husband as we wheeled the cart around. Sure enough, we found ample quantities of beans for my Black Bean Mushroom Chili recipe – a grocery-shopping happy ending.

Same product. Different marketing. (For those without a smattering of Spanish lingo, frijoles negros means black beans). And a definite marketing lesson for small businesses.

Are your customers trying to buy beans while you sell them frijoles? If so, you are missing a huge opportunity.

It comes down to speaking the language of your customer. How many Kroger shoppers left that night without purchasing the beans they came for? Kroger could complain that customers just don’t understand, or that they don’t read the labels closely enough. They might talk about niche markets and modern grocery trends favoring ethnic foods. But that won’t sell any more beans, will it?

Many specialized businesses have difficulty speaking the imprecise language of their customers and become frustrated. But it’s not your customer’s job to understand you. It’s your job to sell to her in the language she wants to hear.

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