Marketing 101–Basic Business Lesson Learned From Children

2 10 2005

For those of us who actually understand marketing, it’s simple. For those of us who don’t it isn’t.

My son Craig is fourteen. I actually love the fact that he has been thinking of what he’s going to create and build when he grows up. Fortunately, he’s learned some hard lessons in the last couple of years. Lessons better learned earlier rather than later with respect to basic business and marketing.

Craig’s case study #1:

Lemonaid: Craig spent the morning whipping up a large batch of lemonaid to sell on the street. He set up a table, had some cups, put out a sign, and was ready to sell his lemonaid.

Result: Sales zero. He ended up drinking his inventory and had a stomach ache.

Lesson Learned:

1. You actually have to produce something that others are interested in. Just because you think it’s a great idea, others might not think so.

2. Price point has to be determined by competition, perceived value and the market. Of the several people who did stop for him, none were willing to pay the $1.00 he was charging for a glass.

3. Location, Location, Location…In retail location is king. Our suburban street that has virtually no traffic was not the place to launch this type of endeavor.

Craig Case Study #2.

Lemons (Please excuse that several of his ventures involved lemons, we’re in Florida and they are readily accessible.) Craig spent the morning picking lemons from our trees in our backyard. He brought them around to sell door to door to our neighbors.

Result: Sales zero. One neighbor got mad and threatened to call the police. He had a blister on his foot and a slight sunburn.

Lessons Learned:

1. You can’t sell something to someone that they already own. All our neighbors had lemon trees so it made no sense for them to purchase from them from Craig. (The only exception to this is when there is an added value or perceptions to the product as in the case of water, which we all have in our houses, but will only drink if bottled.)

2. Don’t solicit in an area that prohibits it.

Craig Case Study #3.

The Fart Straw: Now in my opinion, this one has/had some possibility. What my son discovered was that if you took a straw that had the ribs on it that allowed it to bend (primary use for small children so they don’t knock over cups) and put one end under your arm and blow
in the other end and it makes amazingly cool fart sounds.

Result: Although Craig did not sell this, he did find out all the children in the neighborhood loved this and the parents hated this so there was definitely a market for this type of product.

Lessons learned:

1. Market research is the key to success. By having the children in the neighborhood try this new application of “straw technology”, he saw that others really enjoyed his product. The fact that parents hated it was a plus point as any rebelling child will want what his parents don’t want him to have.

2. Since I thought this was a viable idea from his initial research I actually saw an intellectual properties attorney to see if we could patent a non traditional application of a straw. What I found out is that I could trademark the name, but not the concept so the lesson is that even if it is a great idea, if you cannot make or keep it unique in the marketplace it isn’t viable to mass produce unless there were are marketing dollars to rise it to the top.

Anyway, I have high hopes for Craig. He is an entrepreneur in the making. I figure it’s smart for me to help him on his ventures. He’ll be picking out my nursing home when the time comes.

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