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Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.
Theodore Roosevelt (thanks to brainyquotes.com)
I have two things come in mind when I think of being thoughtful:
The first is that we care about others, think about their needs, and we help achieve their needs.
The second is that we think. That is, that we think before we jump into trouble. We think about our lives, our families, our communities, our religion and our businesses.
Both are important in business.
Be Thoughtful in Business
After World War II, a businessman and good friend, purchased a popcorn factory in Salt Lake City. The factory had been running for many decades and their main product was a caramelized popcorn formed into a biscuit. He changed the formula of the popcorn which changed the flavor to maple. I asked him as his business went down the drain, want in all hell happened?
He said that some guys offered him some new syrup at a low price so he bought it.
I told him that he had to get that syrup out of there as soon as possible before he went completely broke.
He told me that he had no more money for syrup.
It’s unfortunate that he could not go to the bank and float alone for some decent caramel syrup. He said that he couldn’t return the remaining syrup to the vendor.
He chose to go bankrupt.
That bankruptcy put a lot of my neighbors out of work. Even my mother had worked for him for a while and all of my sisters. There was a too sad situation.
I was only a kid. but I knew that business. I had dressed as a clown many a time and sold popcorn at the crossroads of City Creek Canyon and at the fairgrounds. But who wants to take advice from a kid?
Well he would have if he felt he could have.
Obstacles get in our way all the time. Sometimes we have to think our way around them.
Another Almost Identical Example
After World War II, my sister’s brother-in-laws, and a couple of others, started a soft drink company. The soft drink was very good and all of us kids were drinking it. But then one day we opened a bottle of pop that tasted like crap.
A while later I was out birding with one of the owners and asking what happened. He said some guy offered the company to buy the soft drink syrup at a very low price, and despite his advice, he was overruled and they bought it. So they were bankrupt as far as the business went. Why they didn’t correct the situation, I’ll never know.
Look At Coca-Cola®
Coke® probably had a great report from focus groups about how good their new Coke® was.
The fact of the matter is that focus groups can be very deceiving, especially if you asked them the wrong questions, or leave out questions that you should ask. Nobody wanted their new Coke®. They had to pay tons of money to reestablish the original formula.
But the Coca-Cola® Company did something about it. They took action and they corrected the situation. They now supply a variety of different Coca-Cola® products that have been accepted by the public. But most people want that original Coke®.
Think Before You Saddle Up
Asking yourself this question, “What might happen if I do this?” That can save you a lot of misery.
In the extreme, my former company developed an unneeded product for a non-existing market.
There were people who fit into that market, but they were not part of the market.
There was no market.
Not knowing that, our designers told us what they wanted us to develop the product.. We put it into production.
Nobody wanted the product.
It was sold off for peanuts in outlet stores.
Outfoxed by Focus Groups
Our marketing department was outfoxed by the focus groups. The focus groups said that they liked this pattern better than that pattern, and such. If they had been asked which pattern they would buy, they would have said that they would not buy either.
The members of this theoretical market were not part of this newly discovered marketing segment. They stuck to buying our most expensive products.
I went to a seminar in Miami one time and a gentleman from General Electric Company told us about two companies who had the opportunity to upgrade their factories which would lower the manufacturing cost of their products.
The major company in the business decided that the return of investment, ROI, would be too low. So they didn’t modernize.
Their competitor looked at the ROI, saw that they could grab a larger market share by modernizing, and modernized their factories. As soon as they could lower their costs, they stuck that dagger into the side of the major manufacturer and gobbled up the blood for a larger market share.
Think of Individuals in the Market More than the Market
If you understand the individuals in your market, then you will understand your market.
Your market is not based on what you want but on what the market thinks they want or need.
Sometimes what they want, is not obtainable. It is up to you to agree with them about their wants and needs and then gently guide them to what is actually available. To be able to do this, they have to trust you. Only then will they take your suggestions and advice.