This was originally published as a Weekly(ish) Note. Want to make sure you don’t miss one? Subscribe using the form on the right…
In Japan, watermelons are grown into cubes which makes them easier to stack, ship, and store inside a fridge.
The process is pretty simple—when the watermelon is young, place it in a square glass box and it will assume the shape of the box as it grows.
By imposing these boundaries, the watermelon is told when to stop growing, becoming uniform and manageable.
We can face similarly imposed boundaries in life—particularly when we’re young—which can also stop us growing, and which may (although not always) be used to keep us uniform and manageable.
When my husband was 17 he decided to make a violin. As it reached the finishing stages, he brought it home to show his parents who—perhaps thinking it was a frivolous endeavour and a distraction from a real career—told him to look at the wooden spoon his older brother had made if he wanted to see something useful, while adding:
“You can’t even play the violin.”
The violin remains unfinished.
While he loved building it at the time, this project placed him right at the boundaries of the box around him and it would be decades before he returned to the work he truly loved.
It would be naive to say we should all just break out of our boxes and decide our own value. We’re social creatures and what other people think can be important to our happiness. If I upset a friend I would want to know, to have a chance to reconsider my behaviour.
But how much should you let customers define the value of your business?
Sometimes this is obvious and is just part of knowing your target market.
Let’s say you have a hand car wash operating in the car park of a supermarket. People can get their car cleaned while they go into the store.
Would someone take their Rolls Royce for an impeccable valet? Probably not. It doesn’t mean the service isn’t valuable to the right person though.
But even ideal customers can make you question your value.
Go back to the car wash. One customer loves the new air-freshener that is added after a clean. A different customer loves the wax finish, and hates the air-freshener.
Should the air-freshener go? Who is right?
When should you adapt your service or product to fit the box that defines your value to customers?
It’s a balance. You can’t ignore customer feedback, but if meeting demands compromises your standards or makes you miserable, it may be a sign that you’re trying to fit to the wrong shaped box.
In this week’s podcast I explore what happens when your copy doesn’t even come close to filling the ‘value’ box that your customers have in their mind when they’re looking for your type of product or service.
Instead we can end up focusing on the things we value, that we are proud of, and that doesn’t always match what your customer wants to hear.
You can listen to the episode here.
Till next time, keep believing.