Selling Umbrellas on a Sunny Day

Strategy

The rain in LA reminded me of one of the most basic and straightforward examples of what makes a business, or businessperson, successful.

Rain, in a very narrow and specific context, is a problem. It makes you wet. Being wet in the rain at the wrong time (like when you’re in a suit on your way to a meeting) is no fun. So someone, somewhere invented a solution to this problem. The umbrella.

If you live in New York City, you know that the only time you see someone actively selling umbrellas is…when it rains. On sunny days, you never see someone on the street, trying to convince passersby that they should buy an umbrella in case it rains someday.

That’s because on sunny days, they’re too busy selling sunglasses and bottled water. They still have some umbrellas. They’re safely stored away somewhere, waiting for the right time when selling them makes the most sense.

When they are most needed…

When they have the highest value…

When they solve an actual, urgent, in-your-face problem. In other words, when people are most willing to pay for them.

What do you sell? How badly do people want it? If the answer is “not much,” ask yourself if you are trying to sell umbrellas on a sunny day.

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