Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Summer Fable

Summertime is time for getting into a good, juicy novel. A romance, spy thriller, political drama, sci-fi...the kind that's called a real "page-turner." The ones that often grab you come with plot twists that challenge our ability to figure out whodunit, how and why.

This little fable made its way into this space sometime ago and I thought I'd share it once again…

Welcome to the July issue of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications.

Many years ago in a small European village, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a moneylender. The moneylender fancied the merchant's beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain: He would forgo the merchant's debt if he could marry the merchant's daughter. The merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning moneylender suggested that they let Providence decide the matter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender's wife and her father's debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father's debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

The moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles from the ground. But the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Initial analysis would produce three possibilities:

1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.

2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.

3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Ah, but here’s what she did: She put her hand into the bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

"Oh, how clumsy of me," she said. "But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked."

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Most problems do have a solution; sometimes we just have to think about them in a different way.

In marketing, as well, there may be all kinds of problems that tax our abilities to solve them -- usually the most vexing is the budget, or lack thereof.

Is the answer relatively budget-free social media to handle a project alone, or is there some combination with conventional media that should always be considered...Is there a useful role a company's staff can fulfill beyond that of a marketing hired hand to help move a product...What about relationship building with the media...Onsite relationship building with clients and customers...?

What different ways have you thought of to arrive at your marketing solutions?

See you again the first Tuesday of next month for another page turning (page scrolling?) edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips.

Joel Kweskin
704.846.4835 office
704.575.8850 mobile
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