A lesson from the Bard on marketability

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Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved
Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved

This year many recently celebrated the 450th birthday of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564 and died on 23 April 1616.

Shakespeare whose by-name was the Bard of Avon was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. The Bard was an English poet, dramatist and actor considered to be the greatest dramatist of all time. Shakespeare was astonishingly clever with words, images and imaginatively stimulating dialogue. His works were not bookish but involved dramatising the actions and behaviour of human beings whether it be king or nave.

One of the words Shakespeare used that I found interesting for small business people is “marketable”. This word means fit to be sold or marketed; that finds a ready market; that is in demand; saleable. In the Shakespeare play “As You Like It”, I, II, 84-89, we see to marriage-illegible women being sarcastic about an annoying courtier:

Celia: Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.
Rosalind: With his mouth full of news.
Celia: Which he will put on us, as pigeons feed their young.
Rosalind: Then shall we be news-crammed.
Celia: All the better; we shall be the more marketable.

Yes, these two women are having a jolly time of gossiping behind Monsieur Le Beau’s back but there is some truth in their jest. Being up-to-date with the local gossip will make them in demand in their social circle.

For the start-up owner and small business having products or services in demand or marketable is crucial to their success.

When is a product or service marketable? It’s one thing to come up with a new idea for a product or service but quite another thing knowing whether it is marketable. The only way that you are going to find out is to do some test marketing to determine whether your business idea has value for potential customers.

The value of a new product or service depends on the experience and perception of the potential buyer. Does it solve a problem? Does it provide a faster, easier and more cost-effective solution to people’s problems? Is it practical to use?

Another side of being marketable is communicating your new product or service. How can you generate interest? I recently visited an agricultural engineering business just started in the farming district of Patensie, Eastern Cape, which has gained a strong clientele. The reason: the engineering business is situated in the farming district which makes it convenient for farmers. The business is also run by a capable mechanical engineer who is able to design and manufacture custom-made agricultural equipment. This business is able to rely on its reputation and word-of-mouth advertising because of its reputation for excellent work.

When new products and services can find a hungry market and satisfied demand with quality products and services that are faster, easier and more cost-effective than the competitors, they “shall be the more marketable” or desirable in the similar meaning of the word as the Bard used it almost 450 years ago.

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