One of my best friends loves pickled pigs feet. He has a huge jar in his refrigerator and he woofs down a hoof every chance he gets. He cannot imagine a world in which everyone doesn’t love a good paw to gnaw on. He can envision a restaurant that serves nothing but a 100 styles of pig appendages. On every corner there would be a Pete’s Pickled Pig Feet franchise. Just writing about it makes me want to barf.
I used to work for a college that advertised all over the TV. I used to cringe when I saw their commercials on TV. They featured fast talking, used car sales men types, talking about getting out of your job (perhaps as a chef at the pickled pig’s feet restaurant) and getting into a more lucrative career, such as crime scene investigator, security guard or bed pan specialist at a hospital. I would argue endlessly with the director of marketing that the commercials were cheesy and embarrassing. He gave me one of the best lessons on marketing I have heard. “You are not our target market.”
The point of these two stories is that just because you are a market for your own product, doesn’t mean anyone else is. Several folks I have talked to in the franchising field started with an idea that they loved. They sometimes opened their own store to find themselves filled with full shelves and empty doorways. A truly terrible mistake is the badly mistaken belief that anyone thinks the way you do or your small group of friends and family.
For example, take the whole group of prepare-at-our-store dinner places. They collectively were made up of people who loved to get together and cook. “Heck, if we love it, so will everyone else.” they thought. So in mass they opened all over the country. Not only did they open, but they spawned countless others who also opened make and serve franchises. Then they discovered something that I am sure they would have like to have known long before they did this; there just wasn’t a huge market for them. One franchise company failed at a rate of 76%, yikes!
So learn the lesson. Just because you like pickled pigs, be aware that you may be alone. Thresh your idea out completely and then bring it to three people. The first should be a loving and supportive person who will tell you all the wonderful things about you and your concept (more on this later). The second should be the most negative and nay saying person in your life. Don’t be discouraged by their crankiness, but listen closely to all of their criticism and worry. The third person or persons should be those you perceive to be in your target market. With this feedback in hand, you should have a decent idea of if there is the market you believe. Then hit the internet and see if anyone else tried your idea and what happened. You may discover that your predecessors had a popular idea, but were poor operators or they came to market and found as much interest in their product as I do in pickled pigs feet.