Are You Following or Creating Your Own Market? A Parable

Written by lewsauder

March 22, 2012

Creating Your own Market

Following or Creating Your own Market?

There was once a man we’ll call Pete, who visited the market and witnessed an upward trend of consumers buying potatoes.  He knew several potato farmers.  So he talked to them about being his supplier.

He set up his own potato stand in the market.  Day to day sales were brisk at first.  But soon, he found that he was surrounded by many new potato stands diluting his customer base.

Following your market

While stirring this in his mind, Pete noticed a fish stand near him selling a great deal of fish.  He knew many fishermen also and convinced them to begin supplying him fish.

Pete converted his potato stand to a fish stand.  Soon after that, he noticed several new fish stands scattered about, and the competition once again hurt his sales.

About that time, a good friend of his, who had purchased both potatoes and fish from him, invited Pete to dinner one night.  As he sat with his friend, Pete explained his dilemma.  “It seems every time I try to sell something, I acquire dozens of new competitors.”

His friend listened to Pete’s quandary as he served him a bowl of his homemade fish chowder soup.  As Pete tasted it, he was mesmerized.  “This is wonderful he told his friend.”  I must have this recipe.

Pete’s friend explained that the recipe had been in his family for many years.  He loved cooking and always liked sharing it with friends.

Creating your own market

This struck Pete with an idea.  The next day, he converted his fish stand into a market café.  He sold his friend’s fish chowder to weary shoppers in the market.

It became wildly popular and he noticed many other vendors appear, also selling fish chowder.  None of them, however, could match his friend’s recipe and they never sold as much as Pete.

Pete learned a valuable lesson.  When he watched for trends and followed the market, he’d acquire several competitors, following the same market.

However, when he created his own market with a unique product, competitors tried to imitate him, but could not match his distinctive appeal.

See my related post: Consulting Skill: Adaptability

Are you following your market and imitating your competitors, allowing others to imitate you in the same way?  Or are you creating your own market with an inimitable brand that has customers coming for you without regard to your competition?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts and discussion items.

Lew’s Books at Amazon:

Project Management 101
Consulting 101
The Reluctant Mentor

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