Marketing . . . from the birds
Every so often I recall basic business principles I know I should be acting upon. They tend to be great insights I somehow forget use in my work. These flashes of well-hidden brilliance generally pop into my head when I’m thinking about something that has nothing to do with business . . . unfortunately. This time they’re marketing principles. Based on my observations regarding the appropriate placement of bird feeders, I will herein offer these marketing principles for your reading enjoyment (and possible enlightenment—although I doubt that).
The Back Story
I was very excited to see how many birds came by to visit the bird feeders we placed on out deck at home this summer. More than ever before. I got so excited that I headed to Wild Birds Unlimited to get a bird feeder to put on the outside window of my office. This is where the lessons begin.
Lesson 1: Make sure there is a market, and more importantly, that you have access to it.
I put up the bird feeder, filled it with seed and sprinkled some around the window ledge to give notice of the new bird restaurant in town. Two weeks later, I have seen no birds and the food is untouched! I know there are birds in the neighborhood – I’ve seen them. Unfortunately, there are none that seemed to be anywhere close to my bird feeder. The fact I had a great idea, high hopes and a good product was not sufficient to attract my feathered friends.
Lesson 2: A better product does not necessarily guarantee a better result.
I purchased a fancy bird feeder with three different types of food loaded into it and placed it on a tree in our backyard where I could hear a lot of birds. I was sure they would flock to the luxury eatery where the view was incredible and the food selection beyond compare. For 10 days, no birds showed up.
Lesson 3: You must create a demand for your product. Scarcity may do that for you.
A funny thing happened. Through minor neglect, the feeders on our deck ran out of food. A couple of days later, we noticed a few birds starting to dine at the new feeder in our backyard. I guess when the birds got hungry, they moved beyond their sense of entitlement and started searching for food elsewhere.
Lesson 4: Don’t believe everything you hear or read. And be wary of attracting the wrong customers.
The other day as I was glancing around our backyard, I noticed a squirrel approaching the new bird feeder. I’d been told that
one of the foods in the feeder was a suet mix which mammals found too hot to eat and would keep them away. Apparently birds aren’t able to taste it so they can eat in peace and comfort. The squirrel must have read about that food because it ate the seeds on top and on bottom of the suet layer, thus avoiding the habanero effect. The squirrel ended up with exclusive use of the bird feeder for a couple of days–thus scaring off the critters we were trying to attract.
Lesson 5: When repositioning your product, ensure there is a substantial and significant difference.
After seeing the squirrel attack the bird feeder on one particular branch, I moved to another branch. Discovered that the squirrel could easily jump to that one and the repositioning failed to achieve the desired objective.
Lesson 6: Sometimes it helps to make your product appear similar to something your customer is already familiar with.
The new bird feeder is now comfortably placed out of reach of squirrels, is within a few wingflaps of the current feeders our birds seem to love. It is easier to see from inside the house. Unfortunately our dog stands underneath the feeder and barks at the birds. I’m sure there is another lesson there, but not sure what it is just yet!