Toddler marketing: Lessons from honey
April 18, 2011
Over the weekend, I got thinking about how ideas spread, or more specifically, how people share and spread ideas. I’ll be talking about this on the blog all week, but today’s brain riff started as I was cleaning up yet another set of sticky fingerprints my son had left on the couch.
Some people share ideas (feel free to substitute “marketing” here) like a toddler shares honey, which is to say it’s everywhere, it’s messy, you’re none to happy about it and someone is going to lose their honey privileges. In situations such as these, the only one excited by this “spread” is the toddler. Spam email is like this; so is junk mail. In fact, anything you can precede with the word “junk” likely falls into this category. Ditto telemarketing, and every ambush MLM pitch I’ve ever heard.
I call this “toddler marketing.” You have a message you want to share, and by golly, you’re going to share it. With full belief in the maxim “you attract more flies with honey,” you coat everything you touch with gobs of the sticky stuff. After all, who doesn’t love honey?
The answer, unfortunately, is “most people.” Most people like honey. They may even really like it. But it isn’t a part of their daily routine. They’ll occasionally have some in their tea, or put it on toast, or make a peanut butter and honey sandwich, or dip their McNuggets in it. But their feelings about honey aren’t as intense as yours are.
Additionally, the people you’re sharing with don’t really like the way you share. Just because I like honey doesn’t mean I want it on my couch. It does me no good there. Worse than that, it means more work for me, cleaning up a mess I didn’t want in the first place.
But, like the oblivious toddler, you keep spreading it anyway. After all, this is some seriously good honey! Only your idea isn’t spreading; only the annoyance—or worse, indifference—of your audience.
The problem isn’t the honey. It’s in the disconnect between your perception of the honey and that of your audience, as manifested in the way you’re trying to share it. Before you can convince me to buy honey, you first need to get me to use honey, and frequently enough to run out of what I already have. Which means you either need to find and market to the serious honey users, or find a way to convert casual honey users into serious users, then convert those users into choosers of your product. Doing so takes more foresight, planning and work than simply spreading your ideas all over the wall to see what sticks. But sticky walls are a waste of good honey—and good money.