Last week when I was in NY, I passed a street vendor selling sunglasses for $5 a pair. They were clearly copies of best selling designs from top designers, and had fairly obvious quality flaws. It would be a miracle if any of those sunglasses lasted more than a couple of weeks. And yet several people were still buying them. Why? Was it an impulse buy walking down the street? It is a choice because they lose or break sunglasses so often that it’s not worth paying a lot for them? Probably all of the above – which points to an interesting lesson: for some people, good sunglasses just aren’t worth paying for.

How much of your marketing is focused on selling the features and benefits of your product or service? You are probably illustrating how to set it apart and why it fills a need. The problem is, if a consumer doesn’t believe products in your category are worth paying for, you are unlikely to convince them to make an exception for you. Someone who is used to paying $5 for a pair of sunglasses may buy two or three pairs every month. Of course, the truth is over time they will end up paying as much as they may for a single good pair … but that doesn’t matter. Instead of asking if your marketing is selling the right messages, you really need to ask if you are targeting the right customers. The real question isn’t whether you can compete with the guy selling sunglasses on the street … it is whether you should even be trying to.