Not A High St Pitch

A marketplace website began from S West London in 2006, and made £100,000. This year it’s set to top £14m, and for the first time make profit. ‘Not on the High Street‘ co-founder Holly Tucker took part in this 2’41” clip from Skynews. Her site seems to be a way of finding cool everyday items that appeal to the ladies and can’t be bought in a shop nearby.

I read recently that the record company boss who oversaw The Prodigy’s amazing rise put down their global success, in part, to never doing tv. Sometimes you wonder why anybody that’s achieved something appears on rolling news at all, given the interviewer starting point is always derogatory.

The questioner was clearly hunting two prey; the business relevance and banker (as lender) incompetence.

In this case, despite the good numbers, the first two questions were bordering on the offensive. Think of them as nasty objections.

Number one was along the lines of  ‘aren’t you just an inferior eBay?’ Even accounting for the unnecessarily dismissive attack, watching the lady’s response, you can’t help but wonder at how a skilled salesperson would have handled it differently.

Tucked away on their website, here’s a pair of paragraphs that get close to what makes them unique,

So welcome to… and to hundreds of wonderfully creative, imaginative, high quality small businesses, selling thousands of gorgeous, unique, carefully made things. Things for your home, for your friends… and for you.

We believe that all of our partners have what’s known at HQ as the “shop factor”: exquisitely gorgeous gifts and treats, beautifully presented and irresistible to our customers.

Yet it still doesn’t get away, or more pertinently, build upon the viewers existing knowledge of eBay. When you’ve a new product, piggybacking another, well-known player can be really useful. In this case, why bother pushing how different from eBay you are? Especially when your reason is actually vacant (“we are completely different”, “a shopping experience”).

Why wouldn’t something like ‘An eBay or Amazon style marketplace for fixed price quality gift and homeware made by local small business artisans following our core creative theme’ be acceptable to them I wonder? Given more time I could better this, especially using a favourite tool of mine which would mention two well-known names that you’re a cross between (like ‘if you could fill one basket from all the cool Greenwich Sunday Market stalls in one place on eBay’), but you get the idea hopefully.

Then there was slimy question two. Basically, ‘your products aren’t on the High St ‘cos they’re tat’. Again, largely unanswered (“best of British enterprise”) and another opportunity missed to put real daylight between them and any competition. The use of figures was a good idea, but never got rammed home (40 applicants a day, 95% rejected).

Then when put up as an anti-bank stooge, the travails were outlined before assessing that only venture capitalists could see and share their vision. This led to a whopping £7½m fund. But again, what is the vision! What was it that they bought into? This would have been so much more powerful, and followed her agenda rather than narky Sky journos.

In short, this interview only really had three parts. Two were ‘objections’ that they must encounter everyday. The handles must both be fine tuned. And I’d suggest put on their website in a why-we’re-different, why-we’ve-grown kind of way. Then there’s this vision thing. Securing VC is a positive reflection on the support and beliefs of the punters. I don’t think there’s anything bad in passing on that someone relatively important thinks the same way as they obviously do.

Whilst I’ve a lot of sympathy with this unfairly hounded entrepreneur, you must know your most hated objections. Craft a winning response. One that doesn’t say “yeah, but…”

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