Fancy Goldfish Principle

The “Fancy Goldfish” Principle

Let me start this post by being 100% honest – I recently read a wonderful LinkedIn post by Tony Cañas, about the concept of the Fancy Goldfish principle.

To bring you up to speed: Tony travels a lot for his job as a Territory Manager for Liberty Mutual Insurance, and on one of his travels he decided to stop at a PetSmart location to pick up a gift for his children. Tony walked in, headed to the fish aisle, and was confronted by…well, fish. Classic goldfish, available for $0.32, swam in packs as Tony deliberated.

But just above the “regular” goldfish, Tony saw a sign reading “Fancy Goldfish”, priced at $32.

Like me, Tony had questions – what is a fancy goldfish? And what – aside from the fanciness – could possible make one goldfish worth 100 times a regular goldfish?

Turns out “Fancy Goldfish” is a wonderful (fish) industry catch-all top describe a goldfish that is “fancier” than a traditional fish, gold or otherwise. Or to put it another way, it’s a simple way to explain a complex idea (like subbing Fancy Goldfish for Carassius Auratus).

I love the Fancy Goldfish principle. Too often as marketers we get caught up in branding or approved language or trying to speak at customers and consumers. We forget that more often than not, our customers are looking for fancy goldfish, and probably don’t know what a caraasius auratus is.

Marketers “carassius aratus” when they should “fancy goldfish”.

I am often guilty of this: here at WorkBook6 we specialize in bringing like-minded companies together to monetize common target audiences in a bilateral, mutually beneficial capacity…but it took us MONTHS to boil that down to “We Power Partnerships”. The concept of strategic partnership development is easy to understand but incredibly difficult to write down. And I need to constantly remind myself of the fancy goldfish principle.

Tony summed this up beautifully:

I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned from this, for all industries, and especially for our insurance industry. The customer doesn’t shop for auto insurance, they search for car insurance. They don’t look for commercial insurance they want business insurance.

Are you using terms your customer will search for, or is your language on brand? How can you migrate your brand to better reflect the language your customers use on a daily basis?

And most importantly, how can you make your goldfish fancy?

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