The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread


No apologies for the title of this blog. It is a wonderful title. In fact it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Mind you, it shares this status with the latest Nikon camera, the latest album from Justin Beaver, and a number of exercise machines that are advertised on the shopping channel. My researches on sliced bread seem to indicate that it first came out in Australia in the 1930’s so we obviously went through quite a drought of ingenuity there for the last part of the 20th century. I’ll bet the inventors of the atom bomb and penicillin are feeling pretty foolish now we have the Nikon…

You mustn’t think I am picking on the Nikon folks particularly. They make fine cameras, atomic weapons, and bread. Their exercise machines are to die for. But their advertising house is starting to sprout white and green fuzzy patches. Each product is game-changing, world-shaking, and mind-blowing. So far we have changed the game, shook the world, and enjoyed a cerebral blow-job but the product is no nearer satisfying the needs of the user. This may not be Nikon’s fault – the user may not be able to say what it is they want in the first place.

I find this to be the particular sticking point of many consultations – I do this with photographic equipment but others do it with clothing, motor cars, and insurance policies. I try to find out what the clients want, but in many cases this is impossible – the clients do not know themselves. Careful probing, with a sensitive questions and/or a tyre iron can sometimes add facts but frequently the desires are mutually exclusive. Wide-angle closeup telephoto is barely possible but once you add cheap and light to the equation you might as well ask for unicorns. f:1.2 unicorns.

At this point suggestions can be helpful. If you can gently steer a client down the pathway of righteousness and get them to the point where they can be pushed into the midden of self-knowlege, you can make a sale. The stronger minds will resist you as you try to sell the camera that there are 15 of in the store room  so you must try to make it seem as if you are reluctant to supply such a valuable article. If they feel that they are gaining an unfair advantage over you they will jump at the chance to do it. Allow them to try to swat you to death with their credit cards…

Do not be discouraged if the client seems skeptical. They have seen sliced bread before and while the latest loaf may be pricey, they still have to eat. Wait them out, or at least wait until the next greatest thing since sliced bread comes along and sell the current item at cost. If it is near tea-time sell currant bread…

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