Call me irresponsible but I’ve spent money I didn’t have on cake.
Anthony and I were broke twenty-somethings living on boiled eggs and borscht at the time, allegedly saving up to get married.
But several times a week, just before 9pm, we’d look at each other in a particular way. Then one of us would grab our bank cards and leg it.
A few minutes later, assuming we hadn’t left it too late, we’d be eating carrot cake from the delicatessen at the end of the street.
It was good cake. For £6.50 a slice it ought to be.
But it wasn’t about the cake.
We waded deeper into our overdrafts and galloped through the Glaswegian dusk in our pyjamas because of the cream cheese icing that came with the cake.
(Or frosting, if you’re in the US.)
It was soft music from the hills of Fairyland, except you could eat it. The cake was merely the icing delivery vehicle.
The same is true of the lovely thing you make.
At the deepest level, there are only two reasons why people buy anything:
To get closer to pleasure or further away from pain.
Your customer doesn’t want a painting.
She wants a riot of colour over her mantelpiece. Something that reminds her of long walks under rolling skies, the boundless energy of nature and her most joyful friends.
She doesn’t want a candle.
She wants to get more than three hours sleep for the first time in a month. Someone told her a “bathing ritual” before bed might help and at this point she’ll try pretty much anything.
In other words, your customer has a job to be done.
It’s your job to know a great deal about your customer’s job, whether that’s a person buying from you directly, or a retailer, and build that knowledge into your work and business.
It’s your product’s job to deliver a specific, desirable outcome to the people you serve. To go beep beep beep, reverse into the driveway of your customer’s life and drop off a burst of pleasure or release from pain.
(This is the bit that makes customers and retailers remember you, tell people about you and buy again.)
And it’s Anthony’s job to give you the recipe for that icing.
After we moved away, he phoned up the delicatessen and they generously told him how to make it. All I know is it’s something to do with melted butter.
It’s like eating a moonbeam.
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