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Knowing your customer

I’ve always loved marketing and communications. Even as a kid, I was fascinated by messaging, by what worked and didn’t. And, over the years, I’ve come to understand and believe that the profession is one of respect and efficiency. Really, why bother communicating (marketing, pr, social media, media buys in advertising … whatever your tools), if you aren’t going to be respectful to your audience and give them information in a manner they are best able to receive it, right?

A big part of this “right communication” is knowing your audience. Well, I had to put such wisdom to work this past weekend where I’d take a road trip to help out at Buckland Farm CSA as part of their work weekend of farming fun. (It really is fun, and the company is always fantastic.) So, Sunday morning, Carrie, the proprietress, had put out some just-a-bit-sketchy raw fish for the chickens to eat. They’re omnivores, these chickens. She put out a few big chunks of the fish near where the chickens were scratching in the dirt and pecking around. They pecked a little, but there wasn’t any feast happening around the proferred fish.

It was then that I knew I needed to put on my marketing hat and apply the principle of knowing your customer and right communication.

See, chickens are interesting. Even if Carrie had put out 27 bits of the same food item for each of the 27 chickens, they’d still find themselves more interested in what the other chicken had. Or, best I’ve observed, they’re most interested in the one running away from the crowd, assuming — rightly, in most cases — that the fleeing chicken has found something good to eat and doesn’t want to share. Hence, the fleeing in the opposite direction of its buddies.

So, I knew I wanted to get a bit of friendly food frenzy going on to pique their interest in the fish. The first problem was that the fish meat was too big for one chicken to get a beakfull and run off. I decided I needed “stealable” chunks, so I got some meat sheers and cut the flesh and light bones. I started tossing the bite-size bits to the chickens to stir up their interest, and, lo and behold, predictable as animals can sometimes be, the curiosity in the fish skyrocketed. I continued to cut the fish and shaved off a good 70-80 percent of it into bites and bits, leaving the remaining flesh for those who now had tasted and decided they did, indeed, like fish.

And, that, dear humans, is a short story about knowing your customer from a weekend farm-stay experience at Buckland Farm. Thanks to travel buddy, CSA member and pretty-good photographer Lisa V. Smith for the photos.

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