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Do You Know Your Sushi?

Mark Kawabe - Monday, March 22, 2010

My dad's a 2nd generation Japanese Canadian. As you might suspect about a guy with this heritage who grew up on the west coast, he knows when his fish is fresh and he knows his sushi. He reminds me that the word "sushi" means "vinegared rice". "Su" is vinegar, "shi" is rice. Pretty simple stuff.

Most restaurants that serve sushi don't have any discernable taste of rice vinegar in their rice. My dad comments that they're not really serving sushi - it looks like it, but you can taste the difference. Most people haven't a clue this is even an issue.

That's the way it seems to be for almost everything these days. We can look at something and think we know what it is - like sushi - but really, we don't have a clue whether we're getting the real deal or something that looks like it. Seeing all the happy people chowing down on sushi in the local all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants, it makes you wonder why it's important. After all, people are happy not knowing the truth, aren't they?

It's gotta be tough to be a trained sushi chef in this world of cheap sushi. These chefs spend years learning their craft. They make the honest-to-goodness product. That's great, but the average consumer doesn't know enough about their craft or the product. The all-you-can-eat sushi places are hopping while the restaurants that sell the more expensive authentic product have empty seats.

Does this sound vaguely like your market? It should. As entrepreneurs we face this dilemma every day. Somewhere, somebody is offering something similar to your product or service for less money. Your challenge is to communicate your value powerfully to the people who will actually care about what you have to offer.

No matter how well you know your sushi, if your market doesn't know what goes into real sushi you need to get to work educating them about the product. What makes your tuna roll better than the one at the all-you-can-eat place? Why does it make a difference that you use snapper instead of the cheaper tilapia? When prospective customers know why you offer more value than your competition you'll get more business. Without education your prospects can't make an informed decision.

The internet gives all businesses access to the same tools but the tools are meaningless unless you can communicate your value clearly and effectively. If you're not doing this now, you can get started right away by looking at your existing marketing and comparing it with your competition's. See how they are communicating their message and look for ways you can improve yours. Keep looking with a critical eye at your approach and over time you'll come up with ways to make your message stand out from the crowd.

Start now.

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