Marketing lesson: Growing fish in the desert

It was not simple to convince people that growing fish in the desert makes sense”
-Professor Samuel Appelbaum.

As the CEO of the largest desert agriculture and drip irrigation firm in Israel, you’ve discovered a new opportunity…

Your top scientists have reported that there’s water in the middle of the Negev desert. 

Nobody noticed it until now. Because it’s deep underground.

If you can get to it, you’ll be able to use this water to make the entire region arable – a huge boon for the region and your business’s coffers.

It’s costly, but you approve the project and the digging begins.

The team gets 1 football field down. Then a second. And a third – approaching the depth estimates your scientists had given you…

Only there’s no water yet. 

You’re already creeping up towards the limit of your budget. But you trust your scientists and keep digging.

4…5…6…7… football fields down. Still no water.

Now you’re starting to sweat. You’re already over budget and further losses could jeopardize not just this project, but the company itself.

You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and – knowing your career hangs in the balance of this decision – tell your team to press on.

8…

9…

10…

Finally, at 10 football fields – roughly half a mile underground – you hear shouts and cries of excitement. You’ve done it. Your team has struck water.

The first gallons are pumped to the surface in triumph.

As everyone exchanges hard-won pats on the back, your lead scientist runs over. And your smile of relief disappears as quickly as it had arrived. Something’s gone terribly wrong.

“Salt water.” 

In other words – useless for agriculture.

You’re millions of dollars in, over time, and over budget. And the only thing you have to show for it is a half-mile-deep hole in the middle of the desert. A monument to your failure.

What do you do as CEO?

You could resign in disgrace. And indeed many a lesser CEO might.

But you decide to consult the best minds in your network. Just in case someone sees something you don’t. Or baring that, has made a discovery in alchemy that would allow you to morph salt water into something of economic value.

One of those minds is Professor Samuel Appelbaum from a local university. And he informs you that while the water is indeed useless for traditional agriculture, it would be perfect for raising warm-water fish.

So you start pumping warm salt water to the surface of the desert – into ponds stocked with tilapia, barramundi, sea bass, and striped bass.

Much to everyone’s surprise, the plan works.

In a shocking turnaround, you turn a useless path of desert and even more useless salt water into a thriving commercial fish farm and eventually recoup your investment.

Now, do you stop there, breathing a sigh of relief at your good fortune?

It would be perfectly understandable to leave things there – consider yourself lucky and move on.

But on the other hand, you successfully applied the principle of highest and best use to an underground reservoir of salt water in the middle of a desert.

Compared to that, it’s a small logical leap to take the waste from those very fish ponds and use it as fertilizer for olive and date trees – expanding your agricultural empire in the process.

Alas, to most of us it’s not obvious how to turn what we already have into something of immense commercial value

like the kibbutzniks of Masabbe Sade did in Israel’s Negev Desert.

We don’t see how something so insignificant or mundane in our own lives can have immense value in a different context.

Your ability to converse in your native tongue is utterly unremarkable to you. You do it every day without thinking. It’s not obviously valuable.

Yet if you were to move to China around 2010, you could have made $50-100 per hour just to converse with locals who wanted practice speaking English.

In 2017 my wife and I got married, moved to Mexico, and after some time off – I was looking for new client projects.

An acquaintance suggested that, instead of that, why not take my knowledge of marketing and persuasion and teach a live course on copywriting to my existing audience.

That resulted in over $10,000 in sales that very same week, which I hadn’t considered in the realm of possibility before.

What about you?

While you’re off looking for the next big opportunity “out there” in the world, there’s a good chance you’re missing those that exist in your business right now

Opportunities that could create massive cash windfalls – if only you could see them.

Perhaps it would make sense to have someone who specializes finding these hidden treasure troves of profit do this for you? Someone with outside perspective, who isn’t blinded by “being in it” 24/7?

That might make sense.

If you’d like a hand with that, I can help. (But you’ll have to go to the trouble of clicking here and booking a time to speak)

That’s all I’ve got for you today.