How to Market a Cow… Seriously

by Victor Cheng

I just bought a cow.

To be exact, I bought 1/4 of a cow.  Not the kind that moos, but the kind that used to moo.

Let me explain… as there’s a big lesson that you can use in your own business.

My wife and I have been on multi-year movement towards eating healthier. Unlike my college days, it turns out eating pizza and drinking Coke is not very sustainable.

One of type of meat that we like to eat is grass fed, organic, pasture raised beef.  This beef is from cattle that is raised the old fashion way — as opposed to cattle raised in an industrial factory fed corn.

Many years ago, I was under the impression that corn fed beef was the best. It was what all the top steakhouses in New York City served.

But, I always wondered how cows eat corn in nature. Do they peel back each ear before nibbling?

It turns out that in nature, cows don’t normally eat corn. They eat grass (clearly I was SO not raised on a farm).

But industrial farmers feed their cows corn because it’s cheaper and it fattens them up.

The reason most people think beef is high in saturated fat and generally considered to be unhealthy is because cows raised on corn are essentially fed a “high carb diet” which gets them all… well fat.  And so when you eat this kind of beef, you sort of end up with the same way.

But grass fed beef is so nutritionally different from corn fed beef, it’s like the difference between beef and fish — it’s really that different.  It’s incredibly lean, very rich in those Omega 3 fatty acids you doctor tells you to eat more of, etc…

To make a long story short, grass fed beef is great for you, taste very good, but is pretty pricey.

Rather than buy this beef by the pound, we decided to buy it by the cow. Yes, we bought 1/4 of a cow the other day – roughly 100 pounds of beef… and by grass fed beef standards, the price per pound was cheap.

(Sure if you add in the cost of the new freezer we just got to house said 1/4 cow, it’s a little more expensive… but that a one time cost)

So what is the big lesson in all this?

This example of marketing beef this way is a “change the game” strategy.

It is a totally different way of packaging a product or service.  By packaging I specifically mean changing around the combination of what’s included and how much it costs.

So rather than offering beef in say 1 or 2 pound quantities, the farm that’s selling me the 1/4 of the cow is selling it in 100 pound bundles.

When I first heard of this, it sort of blew my mind away. It was so out of the realm of what I was used to — which is kind of the point.

It forces the customer to stop and think about it for a moment. The business coach and marketing consultant in me found this very intriguing.

Actually the original idea came from my wife. And my initial response was no way.

But then I did the math and it turns out we would actually save a lot of money and eat healthier all at the same time. Hmmm… that got me thinking.

Healthier = Good

Save Money = Good

What’s not to like?

So here’s my challenge to you. Do you “package” your products or services in the exact same way as all of your competitors? Could you make radically different packaging options available to your customers to shake things up?

Anytime you can change the packaging of your offer, you essentially “invent” a new offering–often a very unique one to boot. This makes it easier to get their attention and to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

Can you sell them way more than they’re used to? (The 1/4 cow / Costco strategy)

Can you deliver your service 300% faster than your competitors for a premium price? (The FedEx strategy)

Can you deliver your service way slower than your competitors and charge a lot less?

(An example of this would be a company like HR Block offering to file your taxes in May (after the typical deadline if you didn’t request an extension) for 35% less than the usual fee.

If you normally sell a widget, can you sell a widget delivered & installed for one bundled price?  If you normally manufacture and deliver your goods to customers, can you turn the manufacturing process into a live experience? (Think: Pick It Yourself Fruit Farms, Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Farms, etc…)

Throw out the “normal” and experiment/brainstorm with some unusual options. You might just come up with something unique to offer.

Comments

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jon Lim June 3, 2009 at 6:51 AM

Victor,
Great post! Very interesting, and entertaining too. I enjoyed watching some of the video clips and am glad to see things are going well! Take care.
Jon

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