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The Sad Story of the Best Water in Austin

The Sad Story of the Best Water in Austin2“Can you help us? Can you help us sell our water, Peter?”

Thomas and I had been talking for a little bit, catching up with each other’s lives amidst the hordes of people swarming around booths at the Austin non-profit fair. When he heard that I’ve now added “marketing consultant” to my list of titles, his eyes changed from those of a contented friend to those of a slightly desperate man, looking for food for his kids.

“What’s special about Cielo water?” I asked, wondering how much BS I would have to make fragrant in order to convince people that Thomas’s “Cielo” water was different than any other. It wasn’t enough that everyone in that fair loved his non-profit, the Austin House of Prayer. In fact, that almost was a hindrance, since most people that run a business on the side to support a non-profit they love, sell crappy products that people buy to be nice.

“It keeps you healthy. We can put your company logo on the bottle. It supports the Austin House of Prayer…”

“Keep going,” I said. “What do people care about when they think about buying purified water?”

Thomas put his hand on his chin and thought for a moment. Suddenly his eyes brightened. “It was voted the best tasting water by the Austin Chronicle.”

Now we were getting somewhere. The Austin Chronicle has no great love for churches or conservative Christians. If they liked it, they either liked the taste and didn’t know what it supports, or liked the taste despite what it supports. Either way, it convinced me that it must taste decent.

“Do you tell anyone about this?”

“Not really,” he said.

“What makes it taste so good?”

Thomas eyes’ came alive again. “It has extra oxygen in it. Oxygen is what makes water sweet. The reason cold water tastes sweeter than warm water is because cold water can contain more dissolved oxygen than warm water. We use a special proprietary process to dissolve 3 to 4 times the amount of oxygen found in normal purified water to sweeten its already great taste.”

We had struck gold. “How do you find customers to buy your water?” I had found the message, but I needed a way to deliver it.

“Well, we have a website, and we make sales calls. Oh, and we only deliver large bottles that have been certified to have a lower carbon footprint. And we don’t charge for delivery, which is free, and set according to our customers’ schedule, not like national brand water.”

“So what do you tell people when you call?”

“I introduce myself and tell them I’m with Cielo water and ask if they would be interested in getting our water in their office. I tell them it’s healthy and…”

“You need a script,” I said. “You need to open with what people care about in a way that will make them listen. It should start with something like, “Would you be interested in getting the best tasting water in Austin as voted by the Austin Chronicle?” and continue by proving to them why it tastes better. You know, talk about the oxygen, followed by the low price, and then maybe mention the thing about the environment, and finally mention that it also supports a non-profit, so that they’ll feel like they’re doing good for the community by buying your great product.”

Just then, I saw my friend, Rigel, who sells urban real estate, walking towards us.

“Watch this, Thomas,” I said. “Hey, Rigel, do you get bottled water in your office?”

“Yeah,” Rigel said.

“Does it taste very good?”

“Not really.”

“Would you be interested in getting the best tasting water in Austin, as voted by the Austin Chronicle?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you know what makes water taste sweet?” I continued.

“No.”

“The amount of oxygen dissolved in it. That’s why cold water tastes sweeter than warm water. It can hold more oxygen, because at colder temperatures, the oxygen has less energy and can’t escape. Cielo water contains 3 to 4 times the amount of oxygen of regular purified water, so it always tastes sweeter.”

“Really?”

“Yep, and they’ll help you lower your carbon footprint from your current use, and you’ll be supporting the Austin House of Prayer.”

“Dang! Where do I sign up?” Rigel said.

I pointed him to Thomas, and he talked with him for a while and got the information he needed to start getting Cielo water sent to him. When he left, Thomas started talking to me again.

“Man, Peter you’re a good salesman,” he said, making me a bit uncomfortable. “Would you be willing to work for us generating sales leads?”

“You’re kidding, right?” My whole point was to prove to him that the script, the message, is what lets people know they should buy this great product, not the messenger. He could get a team of monkeys and sell way more water than I ever could on my own if he would just implement the script I had crafted for him on the spot. He didn’t want help so that he could sell more Cielo water. He wanted me to sell more Cielo water.

A few days later I got an email from Thomas, extending his offer for me to generate sales leads. There was monetary compensation for each lead I could generate and blah, blah, blah . . . . I sent him a counter offer, telling him I would write the script for him that his team of monkeys could use, and he could pay me for that, but that I didn’t have time to be a monkey myself. I still haven’t heard back from him.

Coming up with a great marketing plan is the easy part. It’s the doing of it that will cause you to either succeed or fail. “Can you help us? Can you help us, Peter?” Sure, I can help you. I can give you what you need. But I can’t do it for you. And neither will anyone else.

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