Barker’s Eggs

The Barker’s Egg Principle

There are three types of reality: desirable (positive reality), undesirable (negative reality) and counterfeit (negative reality posing as positive reality in order to hoodwink you, since no-one in their right mind would accept the negative, undesirable reality if they knew what it really was.)

John Counsel

I had my first conscious experience of this principle when I was five years old. It was a salutary lesson in the wisdom of selling with integrity and intelligence.

In 1951, I was a Grade Prep student at Colac East Primary School in the beautiful lakes region of the Western District of Victoria, Australia. My aunt used to visit us regularly and, whenever she came, she brought with her bags of Darrell Lea* sweets (candy) in attractive, multi-coloured carry bags. I used to collect them, and I had a different bag for each day of the week to carry my lunch.

Lake ColacColac township, on the southern shore of Lake Colac. Lake Corangamite in the distance (View map)

In those times of political incorrectness, environmental vandalism and wanton disregard of animal rights (we used less sophisticated forms of emotional blackmail back then), small boys like me used to collect birds eggs.

We treasured our collections, proudly displaying them along our bedroom window sills, the malodourous contents having been carefully removed by the sometimes risky process of “blowing” them — pricking holes in either end, then gently blowing the contents out one end by positioning your pursed lips to the other. If the egg was rotten, the experience was less than pleasant. Once dry, they were displayed and swapped (exchanged) in crude imitation of our fathers’ business “wheeling and dealing.”

One morning, a short distance from school, it occurred to me that I had a problem. Or I would have when lunch time arrived, because I’d just eaten my lunch… and school hadn’t yet started.

It was too late to return home for another lunch. Thinking quickly, like a true small business entrepreneur in the making, I began searching for something of value that could be traded with other students for a sandwich or cake. Spying a barker’s nest in the grass nearby, I quickly extracted the small, fragile, white eggs and carefully placed them in my now-empty lunch bag.

At school, the only students I could find were a group of grade three and four boys, all three or four years older than me. In true entrepreneurial style, I marched up to them and asked if they had any rare barker’s eggs in their collections.

None of them had any.

They were tremendously impressed and keen to do business. The deal was simple: if they would each give me a sandwich, cake or biscuit (cookie), I would allow them to insert one hand into my colourful lunch bag and choose a barker’s egg for their collections.

After some initial argument among themselves over who would have the privilege of first selection, they duly handed over their sandwiches and cakes, then I held aloft the Darrell Lea lolly bag.

Their excitement was extremely short-lived. So was mine.

Once they discovered the ugly reality behind the fancy name and glamourous packaging, they retrieved their goodies from my possession, rammed the crumbling barker’s eggs into my face and hair, and gave me a beating for good measure.

(If you haven’t guessed by now, barker’s eggs are the small, white — sun-bleached — objects “laid” by “barker’s” on the sidewalk or grass. Woof!)

The moral of this sorry tale is exquisitely simple: no matter how attractive the packaging, and no matter how deceptively appealing the name, dog poo is still just dog poo when you drag it out into the bright light of day. (It just stinks worse because of the deceit.)

Needs versus wants

Marketing is identifying and finding (or creating) a product or service to satisfy it, profitably. Selling is getting people to want what they need because, no matter how much they might need what you’re selling, until they want it, they won’t buy it!

You can never satisfy irrational, emotional wants. You can only satisfy rational needs.

You fulfil their hopes and desires (wants) in order to create the emotional payoff that triggers the desire to share how they feel about you and your products/services with others.

This is the whole point of the customer relationship process… to turn your buyers into your most productive, profitable sellers, so you can work less and earn more.

So let’s examine this particular transaction in closer detail…

Did the dog need this “product”?

Of course not. It was waste, to be disposed of as expeditiously as possible.

Did the grade three and four boys need this “product”?

No. Indisputably.

Did the dog want it?

Emphatically not… it just left it on the grass and took off.

Did the grade three and four boys want it?

Emphatically yes! At first, anyway… until reality became unmistakably clear.

Who was the SMARTEST in all of this?

The grade three and four boys? Me? Or the dog?

Remember… any fool can get people to want what they already want, but don’t need.

Ask any drug dealer. Any pimp. Any bar owner. Any Internet “Guru”.

It requires no skill, no talent, no ethics and no intelligence… only a suicidal, Win-Lose attitude to your customers (another Barker’s Egg — see “The Winning Perspective”).

The REAL skill is in selling with integrity and intelligence. In other words, only getting people to want what they genuinely need. Because only then can they be satisified and fulfilled (see “Why Other People Are Essential To Our Success”).

Then they’ll want to share the good news about how they feel toward you and your products or services — not the bad! 

*Darrell Lea Confectionary

Darrell Lea Confectionary

Darrell Lea is a confectionary maker — one of the finest and oldest in Australia. Their stores are beacons of retail brilliance, with dazzling visual merchandising.

Darrell Lea store

Here’s a delightful sequel to this story of childhood entrepreneurship…

In September, 1996, I was invited to speak at the Annual Convention of the Confectionary Manufacturers of Australia at the Marriott Hotel, Surfers Paradise (on the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia).

My address was given mainly to chief executives at the Friday afternoon session. In the course of my presentation, I recounted the story of the Barker’s Eggs, giving special emphasis to the fact that, 45 years later, I still remembered those Darrell Lea bags.

I did so, partly, because the Managing Director of Darrell Lea Confectionary, Mr Jason Lea, was in the front row of my audience.

He obviously enjoyed the story – but surprised us all when he leaped to his feet, exclaiming that he now understood something for the very first time. We all listened eagerly.

Of all their many stores around Australia, he told us, only one store consistently made a loss each year. That was the store in Colac, Victoria!

Now, he declared, he knew whom to blame!

The audience roared with laughter. I don’t know how true his allegation was, but it made a delightful conclusion to my presentation, and a wonderful sequel to an entertaining story.

Return to main story…

See also: Barker’s Eggs in Internet Marketing

See also: Barker’s Eggs in Network Marketing

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