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The day of the low-hanging fruit.

What if, somewhere on an idyllic Greek square, Socrates had suddenly told Plato: ‘So sorry, mate, but I’ve had it up to here with all this philosophy about logic. I just can’t take it anymore. It really wears me out.’ Or imagine Pythagoras suddenly claiming ‘I really don’t care about those triangles anymore.’ Luckily they didn’t. Because they were all about making a real effort, sinking their teeth in, going through all kinds of trouble. Which is a principle of all times and all cultures. It is used to gain knowledge, to discover new things and to change the world. Or simply used to move up in the world and gain results. It has brought the world many benefits. But lately a true shift of mindset has come to our attention. Taking a real effort is not a self-evident truth anymore. Taking ’low-hanging fruit’ is ’da bomb’ nowadays. Or at least, it seems to be at several marketing departments.

There’s a limit when it comes to focussing on low-hanging fruit. It literally makes your ambitions no longer rise above the average kitchen stool height.

Off course we readily agree that budgets should be used smartly. And we acknowledge that tasks should be shared. Consent that priorities should be set right. Even admit that grabbing the occasional ‘quick win’ can give a very rewarding feeling. But there’s a limit when it comes to focussing on low-hanging fruit. It literally makes your ambitions no longer rise above the average kitchen stool height. Having to tiptoe to pick that one apple might even be too much for you. It appears that making a real effort to turn products or services into a success are about to go extinct. Why would one have to think about a good strategy to lift the company’s branding to a higher level? Isn’t there an app for that? Something like Tinder, with easy swiping.

Slowly, but surely, there’s a new mentality taking over the world. The front-row-seats- for-back-row-prices mentality. ‘With just one simple Facebook like and share you can now have a chance of winning a three-week stay in a luxury villa at the French Riviera’? It is the temptation of low-hanging fruit. It is like dropping your towel at those first fifty square meters at the beach right in front of the snack bar and pathway. Low- hanging fruit. It is like filling your bookcase with summaries only. It is like pre-packaged pancakes. It is like Pokémon hunters swarming around a spawn location. It is like Donald Trump denying climate change to score business voters in the short term. Making it someone else’s problem to address the situation.

Chasing low-hanging fruit will take you no further. It will keep your vision clouded by grey mist while looking for quick and easy gains. It will keep you stuck to the same spot that most of your competitors use to dig for gold. Because you found it by chance. Because it’s free. Because it’s a bargain. Because it’s so much easier to just stay than to having to pack your bags. One would think the time is right to stick your neck out. That right now is the moment to put some labor into finding a distinctive brand positioning. But sadly, no. Your marketing manager decided you should attend ‘The Day Of The Low-Hanging Fruit’. A seminar teaching you all about ‘smarter’, about ‘more’, about ‘faster’ but mostly about ‘free’. The seminar itself costs about a thousand euros. But your boss says it’s a bargain, considering all the cheap marketing techniques you will learn to apply.

Erwin Oskam, 6 August 2017

Erwin Oskam

Erwin Oskam is Strategy Director at WADM – creative agency for insights and interaction. Founding father of the BrainSells® phenomenon in marketing communications. As a strategist he was intimately involved in the WADM success story. While continually talking, he will scan you from head to foot, monitor your organization front to back and brilliantly turn your brand inside out. By definition he has an opinion on everything. All the time.