It’s not what we don’t know that prevents us from succeeding; it’s what we know that just ain’t so that is our greatest obstacle.

Josh Billings

As a kid growing up in the bush in what’s now Zimbabwe, I was always fascinated by how the local tribesmen lived off the land.

I learned early on that monkeys are considered food, but of course are both hard to catch or kill with traditional weapons. When you are hungry, your mind works overtime and so they developed a simple but ingenious way to catch monkeys…

….Gourds are like small pumpkins, but have a hard woody skin. Traditionally they are used for carrying liquids like water or beer, but they also have another use; the monkey trap.

If you take a gourd and make a small hole in it, just big enough for a monkey to put his hand in and then remove the pulp inside, you have one of the most effective tools for catching monkeys. The local tribesmen do this, and then place a few peanuts or kernels of corn inside and finally they fasten the gourd to a tree or a peg.

Monkeys being inquisitive, put their hands inside and grab hold of the food.

However, once they have hold of it, they are unwilling to let go, and so get caught. They refuse to let go even though they are terrified as the hunters approach. Logic does not enter into the equation.

How does this relate to marketing?

Many people try to serve multiple markets instead of specializing. This slows down growth. Prospects want to deal with specialists who are experts in their field. When you serve multiple markets you undermine this positioning. Others try to sell too many services and their message becomes diluted and hard to follow.

We do this because we think having multiple offers and serving different markets covers the bases, when in fact the opposite is true. For most people this is counter-intuitive, they believe that there is safety in serving multiple markets with multiple offerings.

The problem is that most people won’t specialize because they are scared of what they have to give up.

When you decide what you do and who you do it for, the funny thing is that the people you need to meet show up.

To use another animal metaphor, you can’t chase two rabbits; they both get away!

If this applies to your business, what do you need to do about it, so that you can grow and prosper?