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  • Writer's pictureDr. Gary Witt

How a Watermelon Can Teach You a Great Marketing Lesson

The most common wish in business marketing is, “I want to improve the results of our marketing.”

You may think you know your buyers and what they want (Hint: It is NOT your product or service – see other blogs for more.) You can recite the features of your product in your sleep. So why can’t more of them see you have a great solution?

It may be your assumptions and your approach.

Let’s say you run a watermelon stand, one of several in the farmers’ market. A woman approaches and says, “Do you have any water, I’m so thirsty.” There are two opportunities here, and many will miss both of them.

First, you might say, “Sorry, I sell watermelons. Try three booths down.”

Second, you might say, “No, but did you know that watermelons quench thirst even better than water? And with a lot more taste.” Now that’s a great start, but here is where it fails. What is the woman going to say? She’s going to say, “Well, I wanted water, but maybe I’ll try your watermelon.”

And here comes the failure: “Well, I sell these watermelons for $2.00 each.” And all she can see on your table are big whole green watermelons, ready to buy. So she says, “Thanks, I’ll just get that water.” And leaves.

You presented your product to a customer, and she rejected it because you didn't emphasize the characteristics of the product which would obviously satisfy her need.

Your competitor three tables down, taking a wiser approach, has already cut up a melon into juicy squares to stimulate customers’ desire for a juicy bite. The woman looks at those juicy samples, grabs one and scarfs it down, a look of pleasure on her face. It is so good. By presenting those features of the watermelon which will satisfy the customer's thirst, he gains a sale.

Remember -- people do not buy your product because they want it, but because they think it can satisfy a need, want, fear, or desire. The watermelon slice was just a means to that end. But unless its method of satisfaction is obvious to the customer, the sale will be lost. That is why Costco knows the best way to sell food products is to offer samples.

It is amazing how even smart manufacturers and business people overlook the most desirable attributes of their product -- because they often don't look at it from the consumers' viewpoint of seeking to satisfy a motivation.

For example, did you know that the inventor of the device we now call a flashlight tried to sell it as an "electric flowerpot" at the turn of the century. Only when faced with getting rid of the overstock did Conrad Hubert separate the light tube and battery case from the flowerpot and sell them as a "portable light." It was a brand new device that solved a universal problem of seeing your way in the dark. He sold so many, he founded the Eveready Flashlight Company. Until then he had overlooked the fact that he had a feature which could satisfy the motivation of many people to see in the dark -- nothing to do with a flowerpot, but a sudden realization that made him a millionaire. Sometimes success is just waiting quietly at your fingertips for you to recognize it.

Look at the features of your product or service. Why new personal satisfactions could they satisfy? Brainstorm. The answers you and others come up with may astound you!

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