A Quick Tale of Ceramic Cats and Marketing Genius
from fellow maverick, Debbie…
“We’re going to get up early in the morning and drive 3 hours to buy a ceramic cat.”
Doctors in Japan are kept way too busy, and I was asking a young heart specialist and his wife what they were going to do on their precious Sunday off.
I was blown away as the explanation unfolded. It turns out there’s a marketing genius and his wife who live far up in the mountains, and make simple ceramic cats for a living. The cats are a Japanese tradition called “manekineko.” They have one paw up, beckoning, and are supposed to bring good luck.
The artist has come up with a cute story that makes the cats attractive. He claims he was meditating in the forest one day when he found a piece of wood that looked like a cat. He brought it home, and had several turns of good fortune. This led him to the decision to show his gratitude by spending his life making cats.
That’s not enough to make my doctor friend rush out of the house at the first light of dawn, though. There’s more. Much more.
The artist has designed five different styles of these silly cats, and makes just enough to sell only 20 a day. He opens the shop at 10 o’clock sharp each morning, and lets everyone who has arrived on time participate in a drawing. The lucky customer who drew number one is allowed to choose a cat first, and so it goes for the first 20 people. The rest are sent home empty handed.
The whole process takes less than an hour, at which time the marketing genius closes up the store and goes home to relax – and make more cats if he happens to be running low.
The result? Scores of anxious customers arrive every morning from all over Japan for a chance to get their lucky cat. If they don’t succeed, they vow to try again another day. Many of them return over and over until they’ve collected all five varieties.
I bet if he had simply opened up shop in a tradition manner, he would have sat there all day waiting for a stray customer to wander in, and rejoiced when he had a five cat day. He would probably have had to settle for a much lower price, too.
Think about it. How many of this marketing genius’ tactics could you apply to your internet marketing campaign? He used an interesting story, scarcity, superstition, a fun game, word of mouth, and an appeal to the collector in all of us.
I bet you’re promoting something more useful than lucky ceramic cats, so you already have an advantage. The next step is to brainstorm ways to succeed more with less effort.
Let me know what you come up with!