A marketing tip from my Italian grandma: Count your bay leaves

20070117bayleafNo doubt you look at my last name and say Italian?  But rest assured, on my mom’s side I’m your amico!  Like all Italians, I had an Italian grandma.  And like all Italian grandmas, she had an opinion about everything and wasn’t afraid to share it or the life lessons she had collected along her colorful life. 

What she didn’t realize is that she also taught me some great marketing tips that, in her honor, I’d like to share with you.   

If you come to my house for dinner, odds are you’re going to get spaghetti.  I make the sauce from scratch, just like my grandma taught me to.  Now when I use the word recipe, that’s not quite accurate.  We do a lot of “a pinch of that” and “season to taste” sorts of measuring.

Except for the bay leaves.  My grandma always used to say, “count your bay leaves.”  Why?  Well, for spaghetti sauce to be incredible, it must slow cook on the stove for at least 24 hours, if not longer.  But when you finally take it off the stove and are going to freeze a bunch (because you always cook enough to make at least 6 dinners) you need to very carefully retrieve ALL the bay leaves.  Otherwise, when you finally eat the sauce, there’s a very bitter taste to it.  In making our sauce, you need to know what details matter enough to measure.

Marketing is like that too.  It’s an imprecise science at best.  We do a lot of seasoning for taste.  We know what all the main ingredients need to be, but the measurements are usually not exacting.  Much of it is gut instinct, experience, taking a taste and adjusting accordingly.

But, we can get so paralyzed by measuring and counting and analyzing that we lose track of our purpose.  We measure just to measure.  Because it feels safe.  We know we can count.  Bigger numbers mean better results, right?  Not always.  It depends on what matters.  It depends on why we’re doing it in the first place.

So straight from my Italian grandma — figure out what has the potential to make your sauce bitter if you don’t keep track.  Count your bay leaves.  But don’t sweat the rest.

Here’s the entire Marketing Tips from My Italian Grandma series, for your enjoyment:

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