A secret in plain sight: When is an egg not an egg?

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The best-kept secrets are the ones that hide in plain sight. Many people look straight at them, but fewer are truly able to appreciate their significance. Here’s a simple example: I got it from advertising legend Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy. He included it in the brilliant Foreword he wrote for my new book Start With What Works: A Faster Way to Grow Your Business.

I’ll let Rory speak for himself:

“Just as I was finishing writing this Foreword, someone came to me with a very sweet story about a poor young woman in Africa who sold hard boiled eggs to people working on the building sites. She’d discovered that when she bundled them with a tomato and herb salad, which cost almost nothing to produce, certainly far less than an egg, what she was selling was no longer just an egg, but lunch. At that point, she was able to charge more than double the price of an egg for something that cost far less than two eggs to produce.”

Rory goes on to say:

“Never ever forget that lesson. Value resides in the mind of the customer. You won’t understand it if you spend all your time at your desk. You need a different perspective. This book will encourage you to get out and find one.”

The first Start With What Works principle is to ‘Recombine existing elements so they create more value.’ You look beyond what you think the customer values. You explore how they understand value from their point of view. The magic happens when you realise how much more you can provide for your customer using either what you have already, or what you can easily add to the mix. That’s how you turn an egg into lunch. It’s also how you create what I call ‘profit amplification’.

There are nine more Start With What Works principles – you can learn more here. (And by the way, Rory will be a guest on my new podcast shortly, so look out for that, too.)

Copyright Andrew Bass 2021


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