“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.”
At least, that’s what they tell you. But think about it; what percentage of the population really wants to learn how to fish?
More than ever before, customers are looking for turnkey solutions. They don’t want to have to learn everything about everything. We want our fish handed to us (preferably scaled, boned and cooked). In fact, a lot of people scoff at the idea of doing their own work.
We hire plumbers, mechanics and accountants. There are people who want to learn, but most of us don’t have the time, let alone the desire, to pick up these skills.
That’s a good thing. In most industries, there’s room to sell both worm-packed tackle boxes along with fishing lessons and iceboxes filled with pre-caught fish. You can carve out a profitable corner in most markets to sell both training/consulting and done-for-you services and products.
What can we take away from thinking about this old proverb in a new way?
1) Help other people get what they want. If your customers want seared tuna, don’t waste your energy trying to sell them fish bait.
If they just want one fish to eat, you’ll turn them off by hard-selling them fishing lessons and gear. Sure, it makes long-term sense for them, but that’s not what they’re in the market for.
Karl Marx had a different take on this saying: “Sell a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, you ruin a wonderful business opportunity.” There’s opportunity in both selling and training; give your customers what they want and you can make money on both.
2) People like easy. Make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you. Remove any obstacle that may keep people from doing business with you. Make your product or training simple to use.
If you get fancy, you can create systems to make it easy for your current customers to recommend your business to their colleagues. Give them scripts, pre-written emails, personalized cards or letters, etc.
Most people are looking for any reason they can find to avoid taking action. Take away anything that could become an excuse.
3) People like to think as little as possible, too. Use simple, straightforward language in your marketing, sales scripts, etc.
4) Make gratification as close to instant as you can without sacrificing quality.
That may mean offering a bonus that the customer can begin enjoying immediately while he waits for the main product/service.
5) A cure is more attractive than prevention. Does your product or service address a pain that your potential customers already suffer from? Or are you offering a way to prevent future pain?
An ounce of prevention may be worth more than a pound of cure, but the price a person will pay to ease the pain he’s in right now is substantially higher. Even at the higher price, it’s easier to sell a cure than a vaccine.
To a certain extent, we’re all affected by normalcy bias.
We think, “That could never happen to me!” That’s a major reason that cures outsell prevention all day, every day.
6) Question everything! Not every proverb is true. Not all advice is accurate.
Pay attention to the wisdom of people you trust, but never stop thinking for yourself. Feel free to question authorities.
We here at the One Hour Startup highly recommend that you do. Before new solutions and breakthroughs materialize, someone is usually challenging assumptions and asking tough questions.
Progress depends on you, Mr. and Ms. Entrepreneur. Start challenging assumptions in your industry today.