Falling into the same (Mouse) Trap – Getting Out of Sales Slumps

February 10th, 2011 Posted in Business Stories

Getting out of sales slumps: unique case study ahead.

We have a 110 year old arts and crafts bungalow whose old basement with a very low ceiling is visited by mice every winter.  In 12 years as official mouse warden, I’ve trapped more than 100 mice and that’s a large enough sample for me to believe that I know at least a little about what works and what doesn’t. I’m a freelance Consumer Reports of mouse traps.

For years, my staple “tool” has been the familiar spring-loaded trap that sits on a ¼” thick 1.75″x4″ piece of wood. My bait of choice is thick, sticky peanut butter. The particular mousetrap brand I’m using now is from www.tomcatbrand.com and features a yellow cheese-looking platform to hold the bait.

Approximately 50% of the time that the bait disappears, I get the mouse. The other 50% of the time, the bait is gone and the spring is not sprung. (business consultant brain is now thinking about the product’s effectiveness and conversion rates as this tale unfolds)

Then, I saw a new product at the hardware store that worked like catnip on me: the Ortho Home Defense Max … now get this… “Kill and Contain™” Mouse Trap.

Unlike the traditional trap, this trap offers several appealing advantages:

  • The trap is housed (Home™) in a plastic unit (contain™) with an open “door” so that there is less possibility of coming into contact with a trapped mouse – I can release the trap externally and drop the dead mouse (kill™) into a bag or waste basket (Defense™ accomplished). Marketing consultants refer to this as “convenience”.
  • The bait loads from a backdoor conveniently into a tray so I can’t accidentally snap the trap on my fingers. Financial consultants call this “risk management”.
  • The packaging is really cool. The plastic house has a neat curved shape and the lever to set the trap is a striking red. Marketing consultants call this “the cool factor”.

So, what’s the problem? I’m less likely to get hurt, it’s cool looking and I really like well -engineered gadgets.

Well, in side by side testing in my basement over many months with positions of both kinds of traps randomized, the darn cheap traps outperform the Ortho 3 to 1.

What’s the matter with those stupid mice? I’ve presented them with a better packaged, full featured solution and they keep “buying” the sensible solution.

The mouse of course isn’t the buyer. It’s the homeowner who, like me, is taken in, initially at least, by the packaging and sexy branding. I still hope the Ortho will prove its worth but right now I’m feeling like it was ME who was caught in the trap (some would call this “GOTCHA“).

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