Originally Published on LinkedIn, June 2, 2016

 There are so many ways to get your message out. But if a tree falls in the woods and nobody’s around, does it make a sound?

Million-dollar Superbowl Ads Billboards in Times Square. Street teams in matching Ts and backpacks. Letter bombs. Happy Meal toys. Skywriting at the Beach? Newspaper ads. Radio spots. Product Placements. Word of mouth. Banner ads? Viral videos. Email lists.

Old school – new school. Traditional media – new media.

PepsiCola hits the spot. Five whole ounces, that’s a lot!

Who remembers Doans Pills? How good will your back feel? “Good enough to …. “ (Please comment, if you know.)

The flashiest (sorry, bad pun, sorta) website in the world doesn’t mean a thing without traffic.

Google Advertising is near-useless if your local service only attracts leads from out of town clients.

At the end of the day, all marketing is intended to make them see it our way, choose our toy, root for the home team, buy ours over theirs. Believe that our Joe’s Trucks are built Joe tough. If you can’t convert the customer standing in front of you and your superior offer, all hope is lost. Something is seriously wrong.

You can’t be a man ‘cause you don’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.

Put a tiger in your tank – now that strikes closer to today’s inspiration.

Gasoline, which until very recently I still thought came from dinosaur bones, is all rather similar, but I believe various cars I’ve owned over the years ran better on one brand versus another – likely due to the idiosyncrasies of my tired engine at the time and the particular additives added by the brand that they ran best one. The one that immediately comes to mind is Amoco.

Though AMOCO was absorbed by British Petroleum, I still occasionally think of the blurry line in my mind between the drab oil company (I think their logo was predominately black) and AAMCO the transmission company with ubiquitous television advertising, ‘beep – beep MCO’ when I was growing up in Brooklyn.

Why would two companies in such close industries operate with such similar names? How about a hot dog chain named White Caastle? Silliness, sorry.

But I digress, sorry again. Still with me? Great, I’ll wrap this up.

Back to fuel.

Come summer time in the wooded corners of the country firewood is for sale everywhere: supermarkets, convenience stores, roadside stands, camp-grounds, everywhere.

Firewood is firewood, right?

Tell that to the folks who march into the big orange home improvement and demand one brand of wood pellets over another. “That compressed hardwood sawdust is no good. I only burn this brand of compressed hardwood sawdust,” they say.

Give me a break.

But firewood is a little different, seasoned hard wood really is all pretty similar. But due to a number of invasive insect pests that are decimating the forests — the Emerald Ash Borer has made it to the Catskills. The Asian Long Horn beetle, too. You’re supposed to purchase the wood very near to where you burn it.

These miserable insects are killing off entire populations of tree species, so it’s important not to ‘move firewood.’

You might be surprised how many people want to bring their wood from home.

But Just because a tree is down in your backyard in Bay Ridge, doesn’t mean you should throw it in the back of your SUV and burn it in a campfire in Upstate New York. In fact, you shouldn’t.

In reality, it’s illegal to do so. It is also illegal to bring untreated firewood into New York State. I’m sure many states have similar legislation to protect their woodlands and agriculture. Think oranges and the orange growing states.

What all this means is you need to buy it when you get to your vacation paradise. A built-in, massive market. You can’t camp roasting marshmallows and burning your hot dogs, you can’t roast marshmallows without a campfire, you can’t have a campfire without firewood, you can’t bring it from home – you’ve got to buy it. (O.K. or scrounge the woods, tell that to the family of five that arrive the day the skies open up and soak everything in sight.)

So where do the differences creep in? Why choose this wood over that wood. It’s just like anything else, value and perceived value. Some sellers offer “two-for” pricing, volume also means a bargain, right? I had a friend who used to say she couldn’t afford to save that much money, whenever so-called ‘wholesale clubs’ came up.

Sometimes sellers simply compete on cost and convenience. If yours is about the same price as theirs, but available here and now – it’s a better deal. If yours comes in about the same size package and costs less, it’s a no brainer.

But you still have to get the message out. Folks will ask ‘How much do I get for that?”
So they are comparison-shopping. They’ve seen the wood for sale a the gas station, grocery store and on the side of the road. Why buy yours?

Some campgrounds rely on a sign, and this one has for years, but someone decided to add a little visual. Which brings us to the title of this meandering post.

Marketing in the woods.

It is said a picture speaks a thousand words, here’s a picture of an extremely simple retail display. It probably says more than these 905 words.

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