Cats provide great lessons for buiness smarts

Strategic marketing from a cat's perspective

When I was five, my parents permitted my first pet. She was a Siamese mix of gray calico color. The only thing she retained from her blue blood parent was the cry (more like an explosive door creaking whine).  Eyeore was my constant companion from kindergarten through college and beyond.

Cats are funny creatures:

  1. Most are obvious in expressing how they feel.
  2. Few perform tricks for treats, but instead purr with zeal with appreciation for a kind deed while avoiding uncomfortable situations.
  3. Felines have an uncanny survival instinct. No matter what challenges appear, cats are resourceful, resilient and resolute in the conviction that life should be enjoyed.
  4. All relish the hunt. The instinctive urge to keep claws sharp just in case never leaves even the most domesticated (or declawed) kitty.
  5. They’re extremely patient, clever and careful when given the chance to seek food unfettered.
  6. Cats are aloof, yet clever in how they persuade people to serve them.
  7. Instead of chasing you, drooling over the prospect of attention (or food) or getting giddy when you to come to them, they play coy and make you feel like it’s a privilege to gain their respect and attention.
  8. Cats keep themselves clean and neat. They’re constantly licking, preening and avoiding messy situations.
  9. Nimble, agile and adaptive are trademarks of the feline set (and successful small businesses). Put up an obstacle blocking them from where they want to go and sooner or later, most (usually sooner) will figure out a way around it.

Think about this from a strategic marketing standpoint for a moment:

  1. Cats tell it like it is. Today’s consumers appreciate honesty and openness more than spin and bling.
  2. Appreciation is a huge motivator when it comes to referrals – the lifeblood of any successful business. Sure, you can be a carnival barker and pull in some suckers, but they don’t come back (or say good things about you). Consider offering a sincere purr the next time someone helps you with a business challenge or client recommendation. Heed the other side of this one too – if it doesn’t feel right, walk away.
  3. Small businesses have the ability to be agile and adaptive in ways their bigger counterparts do not. Hone your instincts to see new directions for prosperity.
  4. Prospecting should be fun if it’s done right – and this means always being prepared when occasion presents. Have the tools in place to capture attention and opportunities.
  5. Business success doesn’t happen in a day, week or month – nor does prospect usually turn client overnight. Patience is key, but a creative approach also helps land accounts. Think about how you instill confidence over the long haul instead of doing dumb things (like discounting your prices or taking on a client you know is going to be a nightmare) because you’re hungry. Usually there’s a big price to pay for short-term satisfaction if it’s not in line with your long-term vision.
  6. Being too aggressive – or desperate – when you pursue prospects is a turn off. I’m not suggesting this fake scarcity mentality that some are pushing today (most see through manipulative selling, plus it erodes trust), but instead, an approach that makes people want to seek you out. Think of dating for a moment – how interested are you in someone that throws themselves at you or gets all needy the moment you say hi? There’s a thrill in the chase.
  7. See Number Six.
  8. Showing pride in how you present yourself (even if you’re dealing with prospects and clients remotely) is important. Face-to-face, being neat and clean is important. Online, the photos you show and share will form a first impression – as will the words you type. Fuzzy photos and sloppy editing will hurt you.
  9. Getting discouraged is normal for any small business owner. Feeling defeated isn’t. See obstacles and challenges as learning experiences that help you get creative to find inventive ways to reach your goal and you’ll relish the chance to tackle new horizons. For the determined entrepreneur, issues provide insight for better solutions.

Eyeore was unlike any other cat I’ve met. Perhaps her unusual behavior was due to the bond we shared. She was dog-like following me around (in walks to the convenience store or area parks). She sensed when I was upset and tried to humor me into happiness. No cats allowed, no problem. She was handy at hiding when certain people showed up. Cat-haters were sure to have her on their lap., purring This tiny gal taught me tons about communication as a young kid and through adulthood. What a treat it was to have such an insightful guide!

4 Responses to Cats provide great lessons for buiness smarts
  1. Alan Miles
    July 23, 2012 | 1:48 pm

    Big smile, Nanette. There’s a lovely moral fable quality about your last couple of posts. Maybe you should think about a book – Aesop Revisited – Fables for Business ?

    • Nanette Levin
      July 23, 2012 | 3:40 pm

      Hi Alan – I’m not sure if that’s a good thing :-).

  2. Amy Putkonen
    July 23, 2012 | 6:53 pm

    That is cool, Nanette. We had siamese all the time growing up – several of them. I DO KNOW that cry! When I lived in North Carolina, I had two siamese sisters that I had inherited from my mom. I loved them very much, Rosie and Nellie. I moved across town at some point and Nellie and Rosie somehow had gotten caught in the back of the van. When we got to where we were going (thankfully, not far!) they both jumped out and ran. Nellie was never seen again. (They get lost if in a new place without getting to know it first.) After that, all Rosie ever did was cry. I worked a lot and was split up from my guy. Perhaps she was crying for me as that was a sad time in my life. Eventually, I just had to find a new home for her. Somewhere that the owners would just hold her and pet her all day, like she seemed to need. Eventually, I found my husband who pretty much pets me all day and I had found Rosie a home where they very much loved her so all worked out well in the end. Hopefully Nellie did too. She was a beautiful cat. Anyway, enjoyed your analogy! I love marketing and small business, by the way, so I love reading your stuff!

    • Nanette Levin
      July 23, 2012 | 10:45 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Amy. Yes those Siamese cats sure do have an interesting vocal quality, don’t they? So glad you were able to find a loving home for Rosie. I imagine Nellie picked her home too (they’re pretty crafty critters). Oh – and I hear you on the empathy thing coming from this breed – mine used to climb my leg and cry when my mother and I fought.

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