One of the reasons that some companies’ advertising and marketing programs fail to hit the mark is the companies tell the consumers what the companies want the consumers to know, instead of identifying what the consumer hopes to learn and then delivering that information and those products. I call this process marketing backwards. Here are some examples of giving the consumer what he wants to know and considering him first to increase sales from two of the best marketers in the history of the outdoor industry, Ray Scott, the founder of B.A.S.S., and M.L. Lynch, the founder of M.L. Lynch Turkey Calls. Even though Scott marketed B.A.S.S. one way, and Lynch sold turkey calls another way, they both were highly successful.
Lynch Turkey Calls
M.L. Lynch of Homewood, Alabama, crafted turkey calls by hand as a hobby, but was a pharmacist by profession. The turkey population was on the rebound from the Great Depression of the 1930s. By the 1950s and 1960s in many sections of the country and especially in the South, everyone believed you had to be a highly-skilled outdoorsman to take a wild turkey. Thousands of hunters all over the country wanted to learn how to call turkeys. On weekends, Lynch loaded up his vehicle with turkey calls and went to hardware stores, since back then the words “sporting-goods stores” hadn’t been introduced. Lynch would stand in front of a hardware store and use his turkey calls to prick the interest of hunters coming to the store.
When they stopped and asked what he was doing, Lynch would say, “I’m demonstrating how easy it is to call a turkey.” A crowd would soon form around his table. Lynch would call turkeys and put one of his calls in the hands of a consumer to show that consumer how to call a turkey. Well, you know the rest of the story. Once the consumer learned to call a turkey with a M.L. Lynch Turkey Call, Mr. Lynch would make a sale and also create a disciple, who would take that turkey call back to his hunting buddies and show them how it worked. Then, all his friends would have to have an M.L. Lynch Turkey Call. M.L. Lynch got face-to-face with a group of consumers and taught them what they wanted to know–how to call turkeys. They bought his products, showed their buddies how to use the M.L. Lynch Turkey Calls and created a huge demand for these calls.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, an insurance salesman by the name of Ray Scott of Montgomery, Alabama, decided to hold bass tournaments. Other people were trying to conduct bass tournaments too and make money, but Scott hit on a key that unlocked bass fishermen’s billfolds.
“I bought an old yellow school bus and loaded-up bass-fishing pros like Roland Martin, Tom Mann, Bobby Murray and some other fishermen who had been winning tournaments,” Scott said. “We traveled all over the country holding seminars to teach people how to bass fish. As the demand for bass fishing information continued to grow, I started a monthly magazine to take that information to the consumer and eventually a TV show.”
At one time, there was quite a bit of controversy about the business of bass fishing tournaments.
“Mr. Scott, I hear from your critics that you don’t care anything about the bass or bass fishermen. You only started these bass tournaments to make money,” I said as I looked Scott squarely in the eyes.
“You must have talked to someone who knows me very well, because, he told you the truth,” Scott replied. “Now, let me explain. McDonald’s doesn’t care anything about the cows or the customers who frequent McDonald’s. What they do care about is producing a product that a customer will buy. McDonald’s must be doing something right, since that corporation is making millions of dollars each year. The day B.A.S.S. and Ray Scott stop providing the information and product that consumers want, we’ll be out of business. Our number one job is to teach the consumer what he wants to know about bass fishing, because that’s what our consumers have requested. If we do that, we can continue to make a profit.”
Both of these master marketers met their consumers, determined what they wanted and delivered the information and the products to meet those consumers’ needs. Today we have more modern ways of using the Internet for manufacturers to meet consumers and determine the products and information the consumer wants and needs.
Images courtesy John Phillips