Sometimes you just gotta get away to somewhere beautiful with delicious food and laid-back vibes. This is exactly what Koh Samui, Thailand was – four days in island paradise. I sat on the beach a bit, explored the island by motorbike a lot, and ate tons of Thai food. And by the time I boarded the plane back to Shanghai, I realized that not only had I vacationed like a total boss, but I’d also learned a few business lessons along the way.
Set the stage.
From the moment you get off the plane in Koh Samui you’re getting into vacation mode. Instead of deplaning into a nondescript terminal or, worse, a smelly bus, Koh Samui knows how to do it right. Exiting the plane first thing in the morning, I was thrilled to be greeted by one of those open-air zoo train thingies. With the fresh air blowing through my hair, I rode that little train straight to the open-air airport, which I could not have loved more. As we waited to board our departing flight four days later, this same open-air design helped us hang onto those vacation vibes just a little longer.
How can you set the stage for a potential customer?
Create an experience via social media by giving your business a personality and voice alongside strong imagery. Send potential clients a Welcome Kit that gives them a detailed look at what it’s like to work with you. Make a strong connection with your ideal customer by including the information they so badly need on your website.
If bargaining is the norm, then bargaining is the norm.
One of my favorite activities in Thailand is eating and shopping at the night market. Sadly (or maybe luckily!) Shanghai doesn’t have one. So you better believe I was all in for the two night market opportunities Koh Samui presented me. The rule of thumb for shopping at a night market in Thailand is to bargain over the price. When I find something I like, I visit a few different booths selling that item and bargain with them over it. That helps me figure out what the going rate is… and so I eventually buy the thing from someone.
As business owners, though, it’s such a drain when customers want to bargain with you. It’s not like you can completely avoid it, but you can make sure to position yourself so that it’s less likely they’ll devalue what you bring to the table. It also helps to have a unique factor that keeps your offerings from being viewed as commodities like the shoes and jewelry at the night market.
Tell people what you have to sell.
We arrived in Koh Samui first thing in the morning so breakfast was on my mind like crazy. Breakfast is my favorite meal, y’all. So I was really unhappy to find that we were up waaaay earlier than pretty much everyone else on the island. But then, lo and behold, two women had a fried chicken stand set up on the side of the road. It was so delicious and apparently we were the first non-Thai people to stop by… they even snapped a picture of us. As we were turning to leave, one lady made sure to tell me about the massage place they ran right behind their stand. When I was ready for my Thai massage later that day, guess where I went? Back to that same spot!
Sure, we were buying fried chicken and sticky rice. But they had something else they could offer us later that day, and they made sure to tell us about it. You should do the same, whether in conversation with a current or potential customer, or in something like a Goodbye Kit. Don’t assume that everyone has scoured every word of your website – make sure they know how they can buy from you! Oh, and don’t assume they don’t want what you’re offering. Just tell them about it and let them make their own decisions – don’t decide for them.
Create exactly what they need.
I try to pack lightly because really, who wants to carry a bunch of luggage around? Not me! But Koh Samui was warm and I sort of ran out of stuff to wear. Luckily, there were laundry shops everywhere. I simply took my dirty clothes to one of them, dropped them off, and picked them up that night. Problem solved.
Once you identify what solutions your target customer needs to solve their problems, create that. Communicate the offering clearly so that they understand exactly what they’re getting, how much it costs, and when they can expect it. If you’re exactly what’s needed in the moment they need it, why would they go anywhere else?
Differentiation changes the game.
There are many ways to get out on the water in Koh Samui. Heck, you can even get above the waves on one of those crazy water rocket things. Want to see beautiful islands and undersea life? You’ve got a few options… in fact, it might seem like the market is completely saturated with options. We asked our Airbnb host which island tour and snorkeling trip we should do… and he shared two companies with us. We chose the premium one – it was double the price as the other experience, but it was guaranteed not to disappoint. Crazily enough, it felt like a no-brainer.
Do you find yourself tripped up by the fact that you’re offering the same deliverables as someone else? Well… these boats were too. On both trips, we would see the islands and go snorkeling. The differentiation was in the experience of getting those deliverables. If you create a premium experience with unique or extra value, you can charge more for the same deliverables.