Thanks for meeting with me. What can I get you?
I’d like a Grande Emperor’s Cloud.

Fancy name… Is it a fancy drink?
Nope. Just a medium Green Tea.

I don’t get the name thing here.
You can’t get Emperor’s Cloud anywhere else. So if you like the branded tea, you can only buy it here. An old boss used to call this telephone branding.

You’ve lost me. What are you talking about?
Don’t worry about it. What can I do for you?

I’m struggling with a new name for my business.
What does this business do?

We make custom furniture.
What’s special about your furniture?

Uh, it’s custom-made.
I understand. Why would someone care enough to buy from you and not from someone else?

Because I’m better.
We’re not getting anywhere. I apologize in advance for my candidness. Please don’t take offense with what I’m about to tell you.

I won’t.

I promise.
Pinky promise?

Haha. Sure. Pinky promise.
No one gives a shit about you or your furniture, except you and the people closest to you. Once you come to the realization that quality has many definitions. What your customer thinks is quality may not fit your definition. So why do you make custom furniture?

I love it.
Why do you love it?

There’s something about the smell of wood that gets my juices flowing.
Tell me a story about the first time you smelled sawdust in a shop.

Ouf, I don’t know. I remember when I was a kid, I used to help my grampy in his shop. I’d spend all day with him sanding, planing, and setting the boards to make these living room tables.
Did he teach you anything over the time you spent with him in the shop?

Oh my, yes. He used to say the quality of the table depended on two things: the choice of wood and the character of the carpenter.
I’ve heard chefs say the same thing about food.

Oh, it’s true. He said if you treated the wood properly, it would show you its soul.
Nice. Do you know what you’re selling?

Custom-made furniture.
God no. That’s the product. Do you know what feeling you’re selling?

Peace of mind that the customer has custom-made furniture?
No. You’re selling nostalgia. You’re selling a memory of grandpas and their view of the world, filled with honour and integrity.

Honour and integrity…those are good words.
No. They’re terrible words. Promise me. Never use those words.

Because they’re cliche. And no one will believe you if you use them. They’ve heard that bullshit before.

So I sell the memory of my grandpa?
No, you sell the memory of your customer’s grandpa, using yours as the example. You got business cards?

What’s the name of your company?

GLM custom woodworking and construction.
I thought you did custom furniture. Nothing about your name tells me the one thing you do really well.

I do other things to pay the bills.
Who gets paid more money, the family practitioner or the surgeon?

The surgeon.

Because he’s specialized.
And he does one thing extremely well, right?

So which do you want to be?

The surgeon.
Then make sure your customers knows what you do really well. Of course you’ll do the other stuff when you have time. I get it, you want to put food on the table.

Exactly. So my name is bad.

Why did you ask me about my business cards before the name of my company?
Business cards are one of those simple tools in marketing that most people screw up.

Don’t I just put my name, address, email, website, phone number….
Whoa. Stop. When you get a business card from someone, what do you do with it?

If it’s relevant, I put in my contact list.
And if it’s not?

I throw it out.
And how do you ensure your business card is relevant to the people who get one from you?

I don’t know.
Be different.

Like a different size or shape.
Maybe. But what about smell?

Smell? Don’t they smell like paper and ink.
Yup. They all do. But what if you could get “Ode de Sawdust” and spritz a little bit on every one you handed out? Just like the smell you remembered in your grampy’s shop.

That’s really good. I wonder if someone makes that.
They do, I just googled it.

Holy crap. I love it.
And then you can spritz a bit on yourself for cologne. Smell is one of our senses that helps reinforce memory. You’d be just different enough that customers would remember you. Hence your business card may have just become relevant…

What about my name?
Let me ask you something else. What is so special about handcrafted furniture versus big box furniture?

The care and attention to detail is the big thing.
Why is that so important?

The more a furniture maker pours his heart into his work, the greater the quality of the piece.
You’re talking craftmanship.

Yes. Craftmanship.
So what I’ve heard from you today is the character of the carpenter and the passion for the wood will output a better product.

Yes. That’s it. Character plus passion equals Better.
No. Well yes, but you can’t say that. It’s expected and no one will trust you. Plus any furniture craftsman can say that. You’ve got to go deeper.

Yes, what’s deeper than passion and character?

I dunno.
Your grandpa used to say it.

He did.
Yup. You know this. You get it, but you’ve never thought about this way.

Ok, I give up.
Have you ever heard of comfort food?

Oh my god. I get it… Comfort furniture.
Uh, no. What’s another word for comfort food, used primarily in Black communities?

Soul food.
Now you’re talking. And how do you translate that to furniture?

Soul furniture?
How about Furniture that feeds the Soul.

My grandpa used to say that?
I know, you’ve already told me. What’s a soul worth?

There’s no price.
Right, now the expensive furniture that you want to sell has extreme value. No more price comparing to the big retailers. A customer has a choice to buy the mass-produced, cheaply-made table a fraction of the price or get a piece that reminds them of their grandpa. Do you offer a warranty on your furniture?

Yes, I’ll offer a limited time warranty for one year.
Is that all a soul is worth? Are you familiar with Tilley hats?

Their warranty has a lifetime warranty.

So what if someone takes advantage of them?
They probably do. But that’s the cost of being different. They stand behind their workmanship. Do you stand behind yours?

I suppose I could do a lifetime warranty. It wouldn’t be that big of deal to fix something that would go wrong.
Even if the dog chewed off the leg?

To fix the leg wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I would fix that for free as part of my warranty.
I knew I liked you. That would be awesome. You can market the shit out of that. But let’s not say lifetime warranty. Let’s say something that would get attention.

Like what?
Do you stand behind your work?

Yes, absolutely.
Then give a 200-year warranty on your furniture.

I won’t even be alive.
No you won’t, but the confidence that your company will be here speaks loudly about your offer. Future generations will write songs about your furniture. Future marketers will pray to your golden statues, and your grandpa will be a demigod.

I like the way you think.
Enough coffee. You’ve got a lot of work to do.

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