Don’t Eat the Tea

Recently a personal interaction reminded me of an anecdote I read some years ago about tea. (I love tea, but this may be my first business lesson about it.)

When tea first arrived in England it was expensive. Not, a little bit pricey expensive, but prohibitive, only for the rich expensive. But it caught on quickly, because, well, it’s great.

One woman in the south took a full pound of her expensive cache and sent it to her sister in the north, telling her how marvelous it was. Her sister boiled it, dumped the black liquid off and served it like a vegetable. She wrote back about how terrible it was.

She’d prepared it like a vegetable, which she understood, instead of seeing it for what it was: something entirely new.

Some business folks hear about the ‘new marketing’ and assume it’s just more of the old marketing, except online. They still want instant results, measured in dollars return on dollars invested. They want ways to convince people to buy, no matter what they’re selling. They spend time and money bolting a website and blog and email autoresponders onto their old-school advertising.

They’re dumping the tea and eating the leaves, and then they wonder why it doesn’t work.

If you help your clients with their marketing efforts, you may, like the first woman in the story, assume that they’ll know how to brew a pot of social media marketing. Erm, tea. Whatever.

But, like the second woman, they don’t. They can’t. Because it’s so foreign to them, they have nothing to connect it to. Give information away, with no firm plan for monetising it? That don’t make no sense!

Had the first woman included some simple instructions along with her glowing praise, the story may have had a happier ending. Don’t leave anything to chance. Clients who are new to the new marketing will need a lot of hand-holding, a lot of encouragement and explanation and nudging.

Don’t assume they get it, unless you actually see them drinking the tea.

What do you think?