|“It’s like I tied a specific fly to catch this rare species of fish that only bites during the month of September on a river in northern Canada that you access via a bush runway. The pilot drops you off with instructions to ‘Be back at 10 am sharp 7 days later or else good luck getting home and with whatever else comes after that. Oh, and I hope you catch the fish you’re looking for.'”|
After finding our new Email Marketing Department Manager, Heather Prince, I felt like I had been fly fishing and caught a “life list” fish. (Do fishing people have life lists? I know birding people do.)
“You’ll never find one.”
I received those encouraging words from several people when I sent out my job description.
It was this part that seemed to tie people in knots:
– Experience working for or with at least two different horticultural businesses caring for, writing about, or teaching about plants. (This could be as an intern, as a garden center employee, a botanical garden employee.)
– Highly experienced working with MailChimp
– Medium experience working with Klaviyo
– Proven track record of managing email programs with a minimum of 2x weekly campaigns for ecommerce businesses
– At least two work experiences managing at least 3-4 people at a time
– Very comfortable and proficient with all things tech, including but not limited to: Google Docs, Dropbox, Gmail, MailChimp, Klaviyo, LastPass, Screencast Software, Zoom, PayPal, Zapier, Google Sheets, Excel Sheets
– Able to work with basic HTML (such as bolding, adding links, paragraph breaks with HTML)
I knew it was a long shot, but I also knew that the only way to find a perfect match, in terms of experience, personality, cultural fit, working hours, life situation, etc. was to be very, very specific.
I had to tie the right fly, or I would end up wasting a lot of people’s time — mine, applicants’, people I emailed to ask for help.
You wouldn’t go on that epic fly fishing trip with a plastic worm from the gas station around the corner.
I received one inquiry.
We hired her.
I tied the right fly. I caught the right fish.
Another way to go about fishing is to trawl. It’s how you catch shrimp. Drag a big net for an hour and dump the catch to sort it.
Shrimp boats are always surrounded by pelicans. They’re waiting for the shrimpers to toss the by-catch back into the water. That’s what you call everything caught in the shrimp nets that’s not shrimp. Crabs, jellyfish, squid, sea turtles.
From far away, the shrimp boats look serene, cruising along. Up close, they’re full of thrashing marine life.
What’s on your menu?
Lots of fish restaurants where I live have a menu item that looks something like this:
FISH YOUR WAY
Choose the catch of the day, shrimp, or scallops cooked your way!
Choose a cooking method:
Choose a sauce:
- Lemon pepper
Then there are the restaurants that offer one fish, cooked the way the chef wants to cook it.
Local flounder baked with aged Parmesan and dusted wtih panko crumbs. Accompanied by creamed leeks. (Scroll down for more about flounder.)
Or, maybe a personal chef is up your alley?
WE’LL COOK WHATEVER YOU WANT! WHATCHA WANT?
(May we suggest this rare, line-caught fish, hand-delivered to us this morning. This fish was SWIMMING IN THE INTRACOASTAL 5 HOURS AGO. But if you want us to cook it well done, by golly we will!)
As you might imagine, the price goes up and the customer pool narrows as you work your way down that list.
Set Your Hook
Figure out what you want to catch, how you want to cook it, and act accordingly.
- Update your website copy to be specific about what you offer and who will benefit from it.
- Accept speaking engagements that put you in front of your ideal customers rather than a bunch of random unrelated people. (Sell services to the industry? Speak at industry conferences, not local lunch & learns. Sell products and services to consumers? Speak at flower shows, not industry conferences.)
- If you can, add pricing or pricing ranges to your website.
There are ways to do this without saying “my service costs this much.” One way is to have a brief form with choices like these:
My project budget is:
$50,000 – $100,000
So you didn’t say “I only do projects $25,000” and above, but you indicated that you only do projects $25,000 and above because they can’t choose a lower amount. If they can’t spend that much, they’ll go away. (I’m in favor of posting actual prices, but if you just can’t make yourself do it, the form is another way to go about it.)
- Develop processes and stick to them. I experienced some more “school of hard knocks” learning this week when I didn’t do that.
- Acknowledge that you can’t serve everyone, please everyone, or reach everyone and that you don’t need to. In 2008 Kevin Kelly wrote in Wired magazine that all an artist needed was 1,000 true fans to make a career an a living. Some agree with that, some don’t, but at the scale most of us are operating,100 true fans is enough to make a living, and 1,000 will more than allow it, because they’ll help recruit more people to the cause.
I’m going to use the same company I used in the last newsletter as an example of allllll of this.
Mary and Gretchen own two companies, that, on the surface, offer the same thing: planted container gardens.
The Windowbox Gardener is their fully custom business with a lot of flexibility and choice available to customers.
Porch Pots Direct is their subscription service where they offer limited, set choices.
Each business has customers that are delighted by its specific choices, service, and pricing, and they’re different customers.
One way that Mary and Gretchen sort their catch (customers) is in the way they allow their services to be purchased.
To order Porch Pots, you click “shop” and then “buy.” Easy peasy. No qualifying, no quoting. Click, pay, done.
For Windowbox Gardener service, customers have to fill out a big form. If they aren’t pretty committed to seriously exploring the service, they’re not going to fill out the form. (One of my mentors called big forms ‘Getting married on the first date’. I prefer to think of it as a way to avoid catching sea turtles in my net.)
Toss Back the By-Catch
If you accidentally catch something that doesn’t belong on your menu, throw it back.
Either decline the inquiry or refer them elsewhere.
Update Your Menu
If your business changes, if you change, if you decide you don’t want to do something or you’re going to focus elsewhere, update your menu.
You don’t have to serve the same people the same services for the same prices from the time you start your business until you die.
You are allowed to change.
Harry Styles Break
| Here’s our new fish! |
Heather Prince has been a part of the green industry for more than 20 years, including experience at The Morton Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Garden, The Growing Place, The Pizzo Group, Wannemaker’s Home & Garden, and the American Horticultural Society. She is a trained horticulturist specializing in trees, shrubs, and natives with a passion for connecting people with plants.
We’re so glad to have her. We have always had a fantastic team, but now I feel like we’re complete.
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Yeah, this is a long email, but I can’t stop without mentioning today’s blog post from Seth Godin. It’s about the skills and tools we need to live in our rapidly changing world. The Garden of Words Team and I have been developing resources, information, workshops, and more to help green industry professionals and businesses exist in “the Fourth Place,” or online, without the anxiety, stress, time- and money-wasting issues that crop up when you’re navigating new territory without a map. Right now, we help wayfind in the Fourth Place. Soon, we’ll offer maps. What is the Fourth Place? Here’s a good article to start with.
PPS: I really enjoyed learning about fly fishing while visiting my brother-in-law in Idaho about 10 years ago. I didn’t realize that the “flies” for fishing mimicked actual insects, and that you used different flies at different times of the year to correspond with the emergence of the insects you were trying to mimic. Fascinating!
PPPS: It’s Mallary’s birthday! Wish her a happy one right here.