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Games that never amount to more than they’re worth July 23, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in strategy.
Tags: , , ,

No use crying over...never mind.

Having to play catch-up on the myriad of feeds I subscribe to is occasionally a little over-whelming, as I’m sure it is for most folk. I’m increasingly spending more time on weekends catching up though rather than reading the paper, a strategy I think I’ll alter somewhat and just seek out the insight, after all, news is news, right? Unless of course it is “news“.

Reading through this piece from Seth on low-hanging fruit reminded me of a client I was with just recently. I obviously can’t talk about the particulars of their business, so we’re going to go with an analogy.

  • Mary makes a dollar on every scoop of ice-cream
  • She also makes fifty cents on every cone she sells it in.
  • Lastly, she also sells hot dogs, where she makes three dollars on each one

The ice cream and the hot dogs (note: not hot dogs) cost the same for Mary to make, so there is no important difference there. Mary’s customers are quite interesting. They live in a world where the sun is always shining, and it never gets cold, so people always want ice cream. They love their hot dogs too, but they represent just 5% of her business. Understand, Mary’s hot dogs are great, as good as any you’ll find in her neighbourhood.

What people do though is go to Joe’s for a hot dog, and they come to Mary’s shop for ice-cream afterwards.

The problem is Mary’s shop is called The Ice-Creamery, and down the other end of the street is Joe’s Snack Shop which has a sign out the front, a big picture of a hot dog. People don’t know they can get hot dogs from Mary, they got there for ice-cream.

Mary asked me to help her sell more ice cream. What I’m actually doing is helping her sell more hot dogs, and we’re doing this by simple word of mouth; turns out nobody knew Mary sold hot dogs in the first place.

I say the above to make this point: what is it you (“you” can be you as an individual, a business, whatever you like) are known for? Are there other things you do? Do you do them as well as your competitors do? Do you wish you had that extra piece of business?

Sometimes just telling them can make all the difference in the world.

Image courtesy of Caro Wallis, with thanks to compfight.


1. froggylove - July 27, 2008

Good point.

2. David Gillespie - July 27, 2008

Thanks froggy, I thought so. We tend to over-complicate things so often, and I’m as guilty of that as anyone.

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