The next day, the woodman spent the whole morning constantly looking at his watch. His conversation with Tina on the previous day had made him very conscious of time and timing. He had started to make up a calendar of when he would put up new posters and had even started to look at some possible dates for events he wanted to hold. He had gone so far as to begin to rehearse a routine of tricks and stunts with Ralph.
More acutely aware of timing than ever before and thinking of some of the foreshadowing he had been provided by some of his earlier visitors, he was eager to get more pieces to this puzzle called marketing. He made his way to the magic meeting place with anticipation.
This time, the cloud of smoke that appeared was indigo in color. The magical being who emerged from the cloud asked him a question that surprised him a bit. “What would you like to talk about today?” she asked.
The woodman hesitated for a moment, then said, “I’m not sure. I was looking forward to hearing what you have to tell me.”
“Well, what sort of things interest you?” the magical being asked.
“Hmmm...” was all the woodman said, as he pondered this question. It was a simple question, but one that he seldom heard.
The visitor from the indigo cloud said, “I am Irene, and that is what I am here to talk about - interests.” She continued, “You have heard much about making contact with your prospects and getting their attention. You have also been taught one of the most important rules of marketing. I will teach you another rule today, but first, let me ask you another question. Why would any of your prospects who are not yet ready to buy your furniture keep looking for your posters, or events, or any other marketing that you do?”
Before the woodman could answer, another cloud of smoke appeared, this one navy blue in color. From the cloud there appeared another magical being, who began the interrupting conversation by saying, “Wow! After a full morning of doing magic, I am already worn out! I feel as if I could fall right over!”
The woodman, somewhat dazed, said, “Now who are you?”
“My name is Nancy,” the new being said, pointing to Irene, “her twin sister. Younger by 3 minutes, but clearly better looking. And decidedly exhausted,” she tacked on the end.
The woodman thought to himself that the two beings looked almost identical to him. But focused on the more surprising idea that a magical being could get tired, and without really thinking, he asked, “Would you like to sit down?”
Nancy replied, “I would love to, but what will I sit on?”
The woodman had been sitting on a stool, which he offered to Nancy, saying, “Here. I made this myself!”
Nancy said, “Thanks! I needed that! Now, what have you learned so far?”
Irene then interrupted, and said, “Excuse me, but I asked him a question. If you have forgotten, young man, I asked, ‘Why would anyone in your target market keep looking for more of your posters, or anything else you might be doing?’”
“They wouldn’t,” said the woodman. Then he thought a bit more, and added, “unless what I shared with them was so interesting to them that they kept wanting more.”
Irene said, “You are catching on! How, then, will you know what will be interesting enough to keep them coming back, even if they are not yet interested in your products?”
Nancy chimed in with, “Irene, dear, your interests are all very interesting, but if this rustic woodcutter does not satisfy anyone’s needs, all the interest in the world won’t pay Ralph’s food bill.”
The woodman was not sure whom to answer first, so he turned to Irene and replied, “Well, a while ago, your sister Alice had me write out a description of the kinds of people who make up what she called my ‘target market,’ or my ‘target audience.’ I did that, and when I wrote those descriptions, I included some of their interests.”
Irene asked, “What are some examples of those interests?”
The woodman answered, “They included such things as woodworking, ranching, hunting, archery, and checkers.”
“Very good!” Irene replied.
The woodman said, “But some of those interests don’t have anything to do with the products I am trying to sell - or at least nothing obvious.”
Irene said, “When you share information and ideas that are of interest to your audience, is your primary purpose to sell them something?”
“No,” the woodman replied. “It is to create and build relationships.”
“Splendid!” replied Irene. “Do you remember the ‘Golden Rule of Marketing’ that Karen taught you?”
“Wow!” the woodman said. “I thought I had come up with that. The power of suggestion must be pretty strong!”
Irene merely winked at him.
“I would describe the ‘Golden Rule of Marketing’ this way.” he continued. “Give unto others something of value before you would have them give unto you their business.”
“You are right on track!” Irene said. “Let’s take this one step further. Let me share with you what I call the ‘Platinum Rule of Marketing.’ It is: ‘Give unto others that which they would give unto themselves before you would have them give unto you their business.’”
“What you are telling me,” the woodman said, “is that providing value is not about providing what I would want, but what my prospects would be interested in.”
“Exactly!” was Irene’s reply. “That part of your marketing is for building relationships. Once you have the attention of your prospects - ”
Nancy interrupted again, “What are prospects?”
The woodman was feeling a little seasick from this back-and-forth. He tried to think for a moment, and then said, “My prospects are the people who I hope will become my customers.”
Nancy’s next question was, “What are customers?”
“They are the people who buy my furniture!" was the woodman’s enthusiastic reply.
“That is true,“ said Nancy, “from your perspective. You just learned from my sister the Platinum Rule of Marketing, so let’s take that idea one step further. Now put yourself into the shoes of your customers. Let’s say that you are one of the townspeople, and you buy furniture from the woodman. Let’s say that one of your friends asks if you are a customer of the woodman, and you admit that you are. Let’s say, then, that your friend asks you why you are his customer. What, then, would you say?”
Irene butted in, saying, “You’ve got the poor guy so confused he doesn’t know what he would say!”
Nancy shot back to Irene with, “Hush!”
The woodman’s reply to this challenge to his imagination was, “I would say, ‘Because the woodman makes the finest furniture to be had!’”
The woodman beamed with pride, until Nancy retorted, “You are still thinking about your products and yourself. You have not yet said what it is you do for your customers, from their point of view. What are you trying to create through your marketing?”
“Relationships," replied the woodman.
Nancy asked, “When our relationship first started minutes ago what was the first thing you did for me?”
“I offered you my stool,” the woodman replied.
“Why?" Nancy asked.
“Because you looked as if you needed it," was the woodman’s reply.
Nancy continued, “Very good. Now, if you were the customer speaking with your friend about the woodman, and your friend asked you what the woodman did for you, what would you say?”
The woodman, a bit perplexed but catching on to where all this was going, said, “I would say that the woodman fulfilled my needs for furniture.”
“Now you are getting there!" said Nancy. “What, then, are some of the needs of your prospects, that you can fulfill?”
Irene jumped in, saying, “I’ll give you a hint, young man. Without me, you would have no prospects.”
The woodman was starting to get used to this verbal tennis match. He asked, “I have just come up with a list of the interests of my prospects for my marketing campaigns. Can I use some of those to help me think of the needs my prospects might have, or is that cheating?”
“In marketing,” said Nancy with a smile, “we use everything we can!”
The woodman went on, “The interests I listed included such things as woodworking, ranching, hunting, archery, and checkers.”
Nancy asked, “What needs do those types of people have that you can fulfill?”
“Well, woodworkers need workbenches" continued the woodman, “and ranchers need fences. Hunters need blinds to hunt from, and archers need bows and arrows. People who play checkers need, well, checkers.”
Nancy said, “Very good, indeed! Many people think that marketing is about taking products and services that you have to sell and convincing people to buy them. My sisters and I believe that marketing is about getting to know your prospects, discovering their needs, and then figuring out how to satisfy those needs.” She gave the woodman a moment to think about this idea, and then asked, “By the way, what have my sisters and I been doing for you?”
“You mean other than spooking me?" said the woodman, hoping that the twin sisters both had a good sense of humor. “I guess you have been satisfying my need for knowledge and ideas about how to do good marketing.”
Irene interjected, “What about me? I am still standing here!”
The woodman turned to Irene and said, “I could never forget you!”
“Why?” Irene prodded.
“Yes,” said Nancy. “What makes her so unforgettable?”
“Well,” the woodman answered, searching for words, “she is . . . interesting.”
Irene flashed him a smile.
Nancy added, “Well, you certainly satisfied her need for flattery! Anyway, I guess that we have been doing our job! If we have, then you might want to hang on to us, or at least our ideas.”
Irene then said, with a note of sarcasm in her voice, “Nancy, dear, don’t you have someplace else you need to be?”
“Don’t you?” was Nancy’s response.
Then, as if the twin sisters had nearly forgotten the poor bemused woodman, Irene disappeared in another cloud of indigo smoke, and her twin, Nancy, disappeared in another cloud of navy blue smoke.
The woodman had come to realize that these magical beings had a penchant for foreshadowing, as well as a flair for the dramatic.
He knew that he had begun to do something he had never done before, which was to truly think from the point of view of his prospects. He was getting the idea that “marketing” was first getting people interested, and then showing them how he could satisfy their needs.
He was also looking forward with anticipation to finding out what Nancy was alluding to when she spoke of “hanging on.”