Martha Stewart may be best known for her cupcakes and television shows, but few people know she started her empire by baking pies and selling them at the local market. In the years since her humble entrepreneurial start, she has learned how to apply imagination and creativity to the most ordinary things to transform them into salable products that sell just as fast as her cupcakes.
Her advice to others who want to turn a commodity item into value-added, high profit products can be summed up in just two sentences:
1. Always look for new marketing niches.
2. Create products that make women’s lives easier and more comfortable.
A Washington state lavender grower decided to apply these two ideas to her business. Instead of just selling fresh and dried lavender bundles, she created several personal care products, like a lavender body lotion and a lavender massage oil, using the distilled lavender oil from her plants. Since starting her business, ( which made a whopping $88 in profits the first year!) sales have surpassed the million dollar mark. By developing new niches, like selling lavender massage oil to the thousands of massage and day spa businesses around the country, she has been able to expand sales despite a sluggish economy.
An Ohio bonsai grower applied the Martha Stewart rules to her business, and started offering classes to local folks. Just 3 years later, she has a dedicated following of customers who attended her class that buy starter plants and supplies, and her bonsai income has tripled. Those who have taken her class say bonsai is a great stress reliever, as well as a fun hobby.
A California bean grower took this commodity crop and grew his profits by following the same ideas. He grows heirloom beans that are hard to find in grocery stores, packaged them as mixes in attractive packages, and markets them to women who want to prepare a unique dish for their next festive meal or as a gift for others.
Think about your crop. How can it be used in new and different ways – packaged differently – marketed to different audiences or made more useful or appealing to women. If you can come up with just one or two promising ideas, as Martha says, “It’s a good thing.”
Here are five more quotes from Martha Stewart to apply to your business and life in general:
- “My motto is, “When you are through changing, you’re through.”
- “I think its very important that whatever you’re trying to do be good.
- “I am always asking myself how I can improve the lives of my customers, my family and my friends.”
- “Never make a big decision without sleeping on it.”
- “Gardening is a humbling experience.”