Everyone knows you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
Do you believe this one? Have you said it? Of course it’s true. You don’t even have to go to the internet. Everyone knows it and no one questions it.
The problem is, like a lot of things, that “everyone knows,” this expression is not really true. I can’t find any scientific studies on this subject, but an internet search (looking for truth) revealed many reports that vinegar gets more flies than honey
I recall the “Cheers” episode where someone says, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” Woody Harrelson speaks up and says, “You catch the most flies with dead squirrels.” His timing is perfect, and the scene is funny. It’s funny because it’s true. Flies like dead squirrels.
So why am I talking to you about flies and dead squirrels? What does any of this have to do with being an entrepreneur or small business? I’m glad you asked.
The main point
When you’re marketing your small business, especially if you’re running a home-based business, give your customers what they want.
It’s not about you anyway
You need to tantalize your customers with what marketing they respond to.
You may love honey. It makes sense to you that flies like honey. You think about honey vs. vinegar. Which would you lick off your fingers? And when you throw dead squirrels in the mix, licking your fingers doesn’t even enter your mind, does it? But flies don’t have your squeamishness. So if you do what “everyone knows,” your customers (the flies) will give a ho-hum response.
I can tell you I’ve spent tons of money on “honey” marketing and advertising. I loved the way it looked. It was perfect. And the ad rep worked hard to make sure I liked the stuff he was selling me. I bought lots of honey. It didn’t work.
You see, if you’re trying to catch flies you need to find the people selling dead squirrels.
Know thy customer
You have to stay focused on your customer as an entrepreneur with a home-based business. You don’t have the luxury of a gazillion-dollar advertising budget. Every dollar has to count. Knowing what attracts your customers is vital. You’ll have to deal with dead squirrels if you’re looking to catch the most flies.
Of course, this is an extreme metaphor, but you need to understand how important it is to know your customer inside and out.
The Green Door
I was just reminded of this lesson last month. We retired our old home show display last year. Our new display was a tad smaller and The Artist decided to set aside the green door that had been front-and-center for years. She replaced it with our best-selling finish. It seemed like logical change.
Our booth visitors hardly noticed our new sample. But many of them still commented on the green door, now tucked off in a corner.
Mind you, no client has ever asked us to do the finish we have on our green door. But it draws them in.
We had our green door back front-and-center at the next home show.
Forget what “everyone knows”
The honey salesmen are going to make fun of you. They’ll laugh if your customers want the equivalent of dead squirrels. Hey, your mom or your spouse might wonder if you’ve lost your mind. Your friends will scoff or turn up their nose.
Get over it. Get over yourself and your inclination to be like the herd. When you became an entrepreneur you signed up to make your own path, not follow everyone else. Of course, don’t be a stubborn fool either. If you’re not catching flies then maybe you need to listen to advice.
Remember: Give your customers what they love. It’s not about you. It’s about them.
Do you have any stories of counter-intuitive marketing that has worked for you? Please share in the comments below.
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