How to build a winning cup business when everyone is selling cups

Mar 13, 2020 12:43:34 PM / by Pavlo Phitidis

Cup radio

Competing in a noisy world is hard. When there are many like you, you need to gain an advantage to stand out. Getting this right means building your business differently. Here is how…

Imagine you were in the cup business. Cups are a necessity so that’s a good business to be in. But Many people think so and therefore many people are in this business all competing to get ahead and grow.

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What we were taught about gaining advantages

  1. Product Advantage

We were taught that a great product wins the day. Building a business on a product advantage is a weak position. A great product today is easily built, quickly copied and rapidly made available. Think smart phones – mostly, they’re all the same. Cups too, they are generic right? Anyone can get access to cups when it really comes down to it and the cup will hold water, coffee or tea, right? So, product, shmoduct.

  1. Service Advantage

We were taught that service sets you apart. It has a big impact. But, mostly, when you look at it carefully, it means you and your commitment to pleasing your customers. Without you, where is the service? When you get this right, so that you can get your business to deliver the service without you, how consistent is it? In the cup game, service means having product, selling it and supplying it, right? Some days you’ll have great service and others might be average, much like your competitors, right? You must have it to be in the game but it’s not going to set you apart. So, service shmervice.

  1. Price Advantage

We were told that price matters and that is a big issue. And it does. Today you have the best price and tomorrow, your competitor has the same price or a price 3% lower than yours. To compete, you drop your price and in turn your competitor, drops their price and so it goes until you both go broke. So, price, shmice.

How to gain a global advantage

In a competitive environment, you get ahead by focusing not on these traditional advantages, but rather developing deep, narrow expertise in solving problems. This means a few things.

  1. Narrow

    Find a segment of people who want cups for very specific reasons. People only spend money on having problems solved. A mass caterer needs affordable cups that all look the same and can be bought frequently. People living on high mountains need thermal cups to maintain the beverage’s warmth. Roadside vendors need disposable cups. Each has its own set of problems.

  2. Deepen

    Pick the problem that moves you the most, the one that excites you in getting it solved. Make sure there is enough of a market to support the building of a business. Stay with it and stick with it and only spend time focusing on it. Deepen your technical understanding of everything to do with the problem in relation to cups. For example, lets go for thermal cups. How does it work, what are the designs and technologies that make it a thermal cup? Who wants warm beverages to keep their warmth, why? How do these people think, behave and buy their thermal cups? Who makes the cups, where are they, who is the best and who is the worst and so on?

  3. Design  

    With this knowledge, build a business that serves the customers with this problem. This means you need to organise all the elements of a business’s design from marketing to delivering the cups, billing and buying etc.

  4. Relationships

    Search for and build relationship with anyone and everyone in the thermal cup game – designers, scientists, makers, users, retailers, media etc

  5. Expert

    The more time you invest in this, the deeper your expertise will become. This means that your intelligence in this field deepens too. Use it well. Comment, advise and share it with the world.

  6. Scale 

    The best way to do this is to build your business into systems that use all this insight to market, sell, deliver and service cups to those who want thermal cups. Systems let you employ the best people you can find, who share a passion for thermal cups too, to operate and manage your operational systems for you. This releases your time.

  7. Grow 

    Use your time to focus on new markets. With your country being well serviced for thermal cups through your business, which is the next market? Go to Switzerland or Norway. As an expert who understands the problem and how to solve it, begin targeting the customers who want thermal cups there and supply them. They’ll be blown away by your marketing simply because if you are expert in this problem, you’ll use language that connects and resonates with them. They, as people looking for thermal cups, will feel heard and understood, the requirements of building trust. Because trust me, your competitors there are pushing product, price and service – you are promoting sustained heat!

  8. Dominate

    As you develop a new market in this narrow field, the narrow field in multiple countries makes you a dominant player. Niche, within a niche, within a niche is how you develop global expertise. Adding up the many thin slices of markets that want thermal cups, makes your business, built here today, a global business that stands out from the crowd.

Work with us to build a business that will survive in your own country but thrive in global world too. It’s all we do and having done it so consistently, its where our expertise has deepened. Working with you, we can do it too.



Topics: Business Owner, Strategy, SweatScaleSell, Growth, Competitive Advantage, Sweat

Pavlo Phitidis

Written by Pavlo Phitidis

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