Today I’ve got a marketing story for you, I think it’s a bit of a treat. It’s quite a personal story, but the marketing lesson at the end I think is really valuable.
So hang in there, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.
It’s all about wasp whispering.
A long time ago I was stung by a wasp on my shoulder, I must have been around six at the time, I was on Boscombe Beach. And I stood still. My mum said don’t move, I stood still and the wasp stung me on my shoulder anyway.
I was really annoyed at my mum, as you can imagine.
About twelve years later, I was stung again by a wasp, but this time I was stung twice, one on each side of my tongue, absolute agony, the most agony that I had ever been in, and thankfully had I swallowed that wasp, I might not be here today.
So I’m very grateful that I didn’t swallow it.
I had learnt to loathe wasps, and mosquitoes for that matter.
They just drove me nuts, they still do – mosquitoes especially, wasps I’m cool with.
I was like a personal buffet for mosquitoes.
Eventually as a result I came to fear everything that flew and buzzed, that may sound familiar to many of you, and you may resonate with it, it should do.
In the summer of 2000 I went to an eco campsite called Green And Away and the food tent was always a haven for wasps.
Now I like jam and so do wasps because it’s sugar, I couldn’t get near the jam of course because they were wasps all over the jar.
And damn it I just wanted jam on my freshly baked bread with fresh butter.
So what happened next earned me the title of the wasp Whisperer, and wait to see the marketing lesson on this, it’s huge for your business.
So I chilled out and looked at this wasp covered jam jar.
I moved in really slowly with a knife, the wasps didn’t mind my presence, I got some jam on the knife, removed it and went and sat down outside near the fire pit to eat my breakfast.
I was amazed I pulled it off.
Then as I sat there were a lot of people around me, they were stunned, no one else had jam, I was the only guy with jam.
And as I sat and ate my breakfast, some wasps settled on my plate, I froze encouraged by my effort since my success in getting the jam, I suddenly understood the wasps.
It just wanted sugar.
Whilst we had not communicated, we had understood each other and so I let them eat some jam off my plate, I didn’t hassle them, they didn’t hassle me.
I was enjoying getting over my wasp hatred actually, it was a really challenging self-aware moment.
I watched them eat and clean themselves, they’re incredible, absolutely amazing animals.
To test my ‘they just wanted jam’ theory, I thought I need to put some skin on the table.
So I put some jam on my hand and eventually a brave wasp landed on my hand and started eating jam out of the palm of my hand, literally out of the palm of my hand.
Everyone around me was amazed, of course, can you imagine?
I mean it’s crazy.
Now at one point after that, I put two other blobs of jam on my hand wrist area and up my arm, and I had about a dozen wasps eating and cleaning themselves on my arm.
The level of amazement around me was now ridiculous, you can imagine, everyone around me was both one part concerned and one part just stunned that this was happening.
Nowadays I’m fine around wasps, when they are near I feel calm and almost happy to strengthen my understanding of them. They present a huge challenge to me, like trying to breathe calmly under the shower.
Well recently a large black fly was in my house, I wanted him out as he was large, loud and annoying. And so I picked up a book and, not what you think, gently, mentally told the fly I would shepherd them towards the window. And I used the book and I just shepherded this fly to the window and out the fly went.
A friend was watching me and sat stunned at my success.
I had previously told him about the wasp story, but only now did he get it.
How does this relate to your marketing?
It’s really simple.
Talking doesn’t require words.
Listening doesn’t require ears.
Communication and clarity is not exclusive to you.
It needs to be a two-way street.
You don’t need to use words to talk. In fact in marketing most of what is felt and heard by your customer is not in the words. And most of what they hear doesn’t come through their ears, they’re seeing, they’re feeling, they’re perceiving lots of things about you.
And communication and clarity mustn’t just be your domain, if your customers aren’t clear, if your communication isn’t absolutely crystal to your customer across all media, written or otherwise, then you’re going to struggle.
I hope that helps, it’s a bit of a random and different one for you today.
My name is Al Tepper and I am the wasp whisperer.