Are You an Annual or Perennial Seller?

Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts by Ryan Holiday, made my top book of 2017 (coincidentally published on my birthday). It’s a modern classic that will be read for years to come. Now that you already know my feelings on the book, let’s talk about how it applies to you.

The Idea

The basic premise of the book is an examination into why some books and creative works or ideas survive, becoming perennial sellers, while others die out without anyone noticing. We all remember Star Wars (1977), but how many of us remember the knock off Message From Space (1978)?

To create a Perennial Seller, something that sells steadily for an extremely long time, requires that your product achieves a sense of timelessness that suits a classic. While marketing and platform building (the artifices of modern marketing), play a role in the process, they only exist to jump start your creation in the eyes of others, not the steam that keeps it going.

An enduring product starts in the creative process, by answering a question to an enduring problem that will perpetually exist.

“You want what you’re making to do something for people, to help them do something – and have that be why they will talk about it and tell other people about it.” – Perennial Seller

Time and attention must be placed in the pre-launch portion of the process to make your idea, the conception of the final product, a reality. Ideas are cheap, and without the work to make it real, remain so.

Application Rates

Farmers may ask themselves, “Why does a book on creativity matter? I’m a farmer.”

Though not often appreciated as such, farming is a creative act: a process in which an idea becomes reality. By paying attention to the details in the early stages of this process, you can better position yourself to successfully market and sell your products.

What are the early stages of your products? After all, on a farm it’s a series of new crops and new livestock replacing older livestock and crops. Where’s the effect you can make in the early stage? It’s actually easy than you might think.

The first step is to raise food that people will eat. Simple, right? Like writing a book for no one, raising a vegetable that only three people want to eat is equally futile. Market Farmers can be tempted to raise more unique varieties of vegetables that seem cool in the seed catalog, but in reality sell very poorly, leaving the farmer will a field full of food that no one wants to eat, let alone buy.

The second, is to make your food different. Perhaps this appears to be contradictory advice, first we say to stick with what’s familiar, next to be different. How’s this supposed to work?

A great example to use is beef. If you’ve eaten beef from multiple different farmers, or even from different breeds, you know that not all beef is the same. The taste of a Holstein steer is very different from a heritage Belted Galloway. Don’t shy away from having a relatable product, like beef, with a difference, like the breed.

By applying these principles, you choose to raise a products that solves problems. People want to eat, so raise food they will eat; raise food that differentiates yourself from others with a story that they can remember and enjoy.

Cultivated Questions

  • Have I identified my customers problems?
  • Does my food solve their problems?
  • How can I differentiate my product without it becoming a different product?
  • Do I emphasize marketing more than preparing and raising quality food?