How Witnessing a Sacrificial Sheep Slaughter Made Me a Better Marketer

What’s the angle, you’re asking yourself?  Has Sage Advice Marketing Consulting been reading too many Copyblogger tips on provocative blog headlines?

Actually, I just returned from a fabulous vacation in Central Asia where I did, in fact, witness a sacrificial sheep offering. 

My husband and I had just celebrated my birthday with pieces of cake from a recommended restaurant, when BAM! we got food poisoning from the one time we let down our guard and decided to eat something not cooked, not boiled and not peeled.   Struggling to maintain our schedule, I decided to go on our private tour the next day, explaining to our guide that I had been dreadfully ill all night, and wasn’t sure how long I could remain upright.

So, of course, the first thing our guide did was add a site not on our itinerary, which began by viewing a sheep being sacrificed in a small, closed room reeking of many previous animal sacrifices.

On the next stop, at the last Emir’s Summer Palace, our guide stuck to the rote script and described every single object in the receiving room.  When she got to the stove in the corner and described the company, location and date of manufacturer, BTUs of heat produced, date it was gifted to the Emir, circumstances of the gift….the guide lost me for good.

As I lay recovering in my hotel room, I reflected on how so much of marketing is like the canned script that our guide delivered.  The last statistic I’ve seen is that we get 3,000 advertising and communication messages per day.  Wouldn’t it be nice if that information were condensed and prioritized into what is personally relevant and valuable?  Our guide did just the opposite.  She delivered every statistic that she knew about each site as a fire hose of unfiltered information. 

The other communication faux pas that our guide violated was not knowing the target audience.  Her job wasn’t to wedge in every last fact in a staccato, rapid-fire barrage of information, but to figure out which facts and how many her audience could absorb.  Having told the guide that I had a “full-body cleanse” a few hours before the tour, she shouldn’t have taken us into a slaughterhouse.  The guide herself stayed outside because she couldn’t stand the smell!  Later when she saw that I had collapsed from dizziness, she should have amended the program, rather than checking off every site and bit of information–no matter what.

Is this applicable to your marketing?  Does your website target your audience or just throw all the information out there, hoping that your potential customers will sift through it hoping to spot something relevant?  Have you taken time to customize your communication based on what your consumers want to hear–rather than what you want to say?  And most importantly, can you redirect once your audience demonstrates that they’re not interested in what you’re saying?

What did I learn about marketing from my sacrificial sheep incident?

1) Condense my information

2) Prioritize the messages

3) Customize my marketing to my target audience

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