Unexpected business lessons from this aquarium shop

Kevon Cheung

Last Saturday, I was looking at my fish tank which looked like this:

My fish tank last week

It was insanely milky and there were eggs everywhere. As amateurs, my wife and I didn't know what to do, so our 1st reaction was:

Let's go to an aquarium shop!

But dang it. We didn't want to go to the same shop because the boss was a woman with a super bad temper. The last 3 times we went, she was always yelling at her mum or her customers.

When we asked for something, she would just take out a product of any brand and call out the price.

It was obvious that we needed some serious advice on how to take care of our tank, so I went online to find another store a bit further away.

Once we got there, we were so relieved and excited!

There were so many tanks. The water was clean. The fish even looked happy!

The boss came over and asked what we were looking for then she went on to recommend some products.

"Here's a product from Canada that can clean up the bad bacteria from your tank. By the way, do you use this sort of ceramic ring? Oh don't worry. You don't need to get new ones! Let's try and see what happens."

Instantly, I felt soooo good.

I felt that she was on our side. She was patient. She wasn't just selling us things.

My wife and I were still admiring the fish in her shop and she saw us and said "Do you want to add a plant to your tank?" and later "Have you seen this fish? They stick to the surface and can do some cleaning too."

You guess it. We bought both of them! We spent a lot πŸ˜‚ Jezz, I didn't know having a tiny fish tank can get expensive like this. But well, now our tank looks like this:

As I walked out of the shop, I was happy and hopeful about my tank. Then I had this thought in my mind "What just happened? How did this boss get us to buy so many things we didn't plan to? She is a master in business!"

It comes down to 3 things:

  1. She is not a salesperson. She is more like a doctor asking for our symptoms then suggesting ways to fix our problems. She wins our trust by telling us what we DON'T need
  2. She saw me looking at the plants obsessively, so she only had to gently ask as part of the ongoing conversation. She brings things up at the right moment
  3. She knew we care about the cleanliness of the tank, so she suggested cleaning fish. She brings attention to the right things

I'm genuinely impressed! I started thinking about what that means to you and me as creators!

1. You should tell them if they're not your customers

You might want to capture every single person who walks into your door. This is bad for you in the long run because you're unfocused as to who you're serving. If someone is not at the right stage to benefit from you, tell them! They might come back later. If they don't, you gain goodwill.

I recently checked out Jeremy's Podcast Marketing Academy and I clicked on his face at the bottom right. I was impressed that after answering a few questions, he actually said "PMA is not for you, but you can do this instead." BOOM. I'm sold on this person.

2. You can discover obsessions in conversations

You might have ideas in your head that you want to start building now. Don't! Until you can confidently tell me what your customers are obsessively looking at (like me at the water plants). But how?

Be like the boss. Start a conversation and learn about people's lives, what they're working on, what they're facing, etc.

When I wrote my book, Find Joy in Chaos, I scheduled 10 live calls just to get potential readers to tell me whether my table of contents is good or not. That's 7.5 hours. Call me insane, but it helps a lot.

3. You can mention. You don't have to sell

You might not have enough traffic coming in to sell automatically. Then what should you do?

Well, selling online doesn't mean you have to live by the "passive income" rules. I actually don't believe in that. Yes, the sales can come in without you pushing for it, but you still need to take action on many other things.

You can continue to have conversations with people. Be helpful. Be supportive. Be there for them. Within the conversation, if you think one of your products can help, bring it up gently.

If the other person needs it, she would ask you to elaborate. Otherwise, move on with your conversation and don't push it. That's how you can approach it.

I recently rolled out this video to talk about how I attract students to my Build in Public Mastery course. I can tell you that a good number of students signed up because I brought it up in our conversations.

I love these traditional shops. They are full of important business lessons that we can all learn :)

If you want to get these articles directly in your inbox:
πŸ‘‡
πŸ‘‡
πŸ‘‡

In-depth, genuine &
‍actionable ideas to grow your audience

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Janet YenPublic Lab Member TrevorPublic Lab Member SamPublic Lab Member LeifPublic Lab Member BhanuPublic Lab Member Jelmer
Join 2,421 creators to build trust & influence today
Public Lab Testimonail
Public Lab Testimonail
Public Lab Testimonail
A left arrow
A right arrow

You might also like