I will admit my experience was coloured slightly by a very unwelcome bout of the flu, but I’m certain even without the distraction of my affliction, I would be hard pressed to find too much to recommend my visit to the Faroe Islands … a place that, on first impressions, seemed so dull that watching paint dry could easily be the national sport.
My visit there was one of the first stops on a cruise around that part of the world, and, whilst I was aware that the more breathtaking scenery was to come, this early jaunt, characterized as it was by fog and drizzle, did nothing to put me in the holiday spirit.
The Islands are inhabited by 48,000 people (an oft repeated fact reeled off by our unsurprisingly dour tour guide) most of whom seemed to be wearing the same type of hat. We were shown the Football stadium (seats 5,000 – only one on the islands) and other mundane ‘landmarks’ (all included because they were ‘the only one on the islands’) … then, with all the ceremony of a magician about to use the phrase “and your card is…” our tour guide informed us of the highlight of our trip … the ‘wood turner’ (again, the only one on the islands)
Now this is actually slightly more interesting than it sounds because those with a passing knowledge of the Faroe Islands will know there aren’t really any trees, so I was a mite curious as to how this chap managed to ply his trade…
The wood turner in question (again, complete with approved Faroe Islander hat) had actually built a sheltered area in which he had planted trees and for years nurtured them against everything the elements could throw at them, and when they finally reached maturity he carefully cut them down, then stored them and allowed the wood to season for many months before … he made lampshades out of them.
Not tables, chairs, or even quirky souvenirs, but lampshades. Lampshades that could best be described with the word ‘interesting’, as well as the words ‘how much?’ as they seemed more than a little expensive … and, despite every tourist being dragged to the workshop, they were still, for the most part, gathering dust.
So this chap was going to an extraordinary amount of effort to create something only he wanted to make, which because of the time effort involved cost way beyond what most would pay – and then going around looking a bit glum because business was poor.
I can’t help but think that maybe he should have had a chat with whoever was selling the hats everybody seemed to be wearing.
It’s a simple fact that, no matter what you are selling, whether it be face to face, by mail or online, and how much focus you put on it … if you’re trying to sell something nobody actually wants … you’ll find it blooming hard work.
That’s because it’s always easier to sell what people actually want.
Sounds ‘headslappingly’ simple, and some might counter it sounds blindingly obvious, and that it doesn’t really need pointing out – but if you look around there are plenty of people who are using the ‘Faroe Islands Wood Turner’ business strategy.
It is easy to be ‘wedded’ to an idea or pet project, try, and then discard system after system in an effort to shift a few units of what only you think is a good idea.
You may be completely happy doing this, which is fine, but then you’ll also have to wonder about those who have taken the other path, done the research into what people actually want, are supplying that to a hungry market (and raking it in) while you are still struggling…