Several years ago, between the second and third years of university, I clinched a summer job as a repair guy for several student accommodation blocks.
Now, truth be told, I have all the DIY prowess of a five year old – so, quite how I got the gig is anyone’s guess.
The days consisted of painting walls, manoeuvring sofas, checking inventory sheets and talking to each other in silly voices over the walkie talkies that we carried.
Also on the site were a large group of cleaners. We were just a bunch of students looking to make some summer money whereas they were very serious and at a completely different stage in life.
Both sides kept themselves to themselves, asides from the occasional lunch time conversation.
It was during one of these lunches that I learnt an important truth. Something which we can apply to marketing, advertising, writing and life in general.
Don’t over-complicate things. Sometimes things are as simple as they seem.
As I sat there, munching on my £4 convenience store sandwiches, one of the cleaners was talking about buying a new fridge/freezer in his characteristically gruff way.
He was going to buy the biggest one he could see.
He didn’t care if he had to move his house around to fit it in.
He wanted the biggest one money could buy.
I thought about it. All sorts of questions went round in my head. Did he have an extra large family? Did he have loads of pets he wanted to keep feed for? Did he bulk buy food from one of those stores that only sell things in industrial sized packages? Did everything in his house have to be a certain size?
And so, with a mouthful of slightly stale bread, I asked him:
“Why do you need one so big?”
There was a moment of silence as he, and the rest of the cleaners, looked at me incredulously.
Another moment passed. A few of them started to laugh.
Then came his reply:
“So I can get more fucking food in it”.
And that was that. Simple.
A lesson learnt. Sometimes things are as simple as they seem on face value.
Why do our minds naturally look to over-complicate them?
If you’re selling a big fridge. Go for the natural USP. The customer can store more food in it! Simple.
I do miss that summer, although it did show me that my future wasn’t in being a maintenance man.