12+1 = 13! — Quotidian — 013

(Transcript of video originally posted 13 Jan 2021)


Quite some time ago, about five hundred years ago, bakers in England, the ones who prepare bread, … the king, the queen, the royalty would send in an order, and whenever these people packed a dozen, they wouldn’t send TWELVE, but would actually send THIRTEEN. No. Not because they wanted to win the king’s, queen’s favour, by just adding an extra bonus, no! The real reason was that if the agreed-upon number didn’t reach the palace correctly, they were warned of punishment — they would be beheaded, they would be lashed by whips.. So, rather than take a risk and invite trouble, they were just throwing that additional extra, and sending it over. Which is why, when something is packaged with an additional something, added beyond what was actually asked for, we call it a Baker’s Dozen! Bakers used to cheat by reducing weight, increasing cost, etc. They implemented a rule. Bakers circumvented it by just throwing in an additional something. Finally, it ended up that bakers got a good name overall!

Whenever you buy a toy, if you observe it carefully, if you turn the box around, in the back, they would have this printed in small font. Batteries, requires three batteries. Not included! Any toy box you look at, this would be the story. In fact, I even saw a joke the other day.

As if, you go to the shop one day, to buy a box of batteries, and… thanks to force of habit, what if the box of batteries had “Batteries not included” printed on it! If they start selling batteries, and they start printing “Batteries not included”!

At my home, when my son was still a toddler, when I buy a toy like this one, and go home, my wife will actually be ANGRY with me..! Not happy! Because, when I take that toy out of the packet, out of the package, my son would want to play right then. He would want to enjoy it immediately. But the package would have instructions: “Charge for 12–18 hours before first use…” In fact, Steve Jobs, enraged due to this specific matter, he declared that day: The iPhone, the moment you take it out of the box, the Apple, in all its smiling bitten glory should appear! Charge should be around 80% That was the mandate he had.

That delight you bring to your customers… Without forcing them to charge.. is something special.

I have a childhood experience, like this one. This is a sweetshop. I won’t forget his name even now. His name is Aarumugam. One day, I go over to buy sweets, and he offers me samples.. Do you want this? Do you want to try this? And he gives me some samples to taste. We sample it — and my mom asks for a specific sweet to be weighed and packaged, as she likes it… I have already sampled a bit of it… That man weighs out 495 grams into a box. When we had originally asked for half a kilo of that sweet! Why? He supposedly gave me five grams to taste and sample initially! “Enna Kodumai Saravanan?!”

But…, the same story, played out very very differently just a week ago. Consider this one. I bought an incense-stick stand. It is about eight hundred and fifty rupees. It is a nice little bauble, made of marble. Like a tower. If you place your incense stick or Dasaangam inside, it will look really beautiful and fill the room with fragrance.

But, you know what? Inside the packaging, inside that box labeled Kullicraft, they included four agarbattis. Well, it must have cost them about twenty rupees, but because they included those four sticks right inside the packaging, the moment I opened the package, I was able to use it instantaneously, I need not, … I wasn’t forced to go searching for an agarbatti. Small effort, from the side of the management, from the side of the manufacturer. But, remember, I am opening it late at night, around eight pm, but I was able to instantly benefit. I would say this was a Baker’s Dozen, right there. He had to just send the box. This comes via Amazon. Something manufactured by somebody, delivered by somebody else, through somebody else’s warehouse… and eventually it reaches me. But, I was able to use it that moment.

Well, I am not sure how many of you remember this old man, really. If you have ever lived in a village, if you are the type who visits fairs and festival exhibitions, you would know. They used to call it Bambai-Mithai. Bombay Sweet. This man would pull it out from under the frock of that girl-doll. And, from the candy that comes out, he would fashion a watch, a balloon, different sorts of toys and dolls, none of that will be enough for us. After everything is done, he will take a small bit of it and do that to our cheek. That thing will stick to our cheek and we will be so thrilled when that happens. Baker’s Dozen. Right there.

This world, is filled with commodity products. Irrespective of what product you choose to make, there would be five amazing alternatives, five competitors, for it. So, if you want to stand out, if you want to differentiate yourself, what is needed is, the icing. The packaging. The final touch. The personal twist. The Baker’s Dozen, that you add. We think there are all these cakes. People come to buy the cake. On top of the cake, we apply the icing. But, today, in this commercialised world, the icing IS the cake! Icing is not on the cake. People come to buy the cake, we add the icing, NO! The icing IS the cake! The cake goes without saying. Everybody expects high quality there. What do you do on top? How do you grab the attention? How do you hold on to it? How do you give that customer wow, Aha, Delight? All the best, in your own Baker’s Dozen! Thank you!




​Welcome to Quotidians — a humble attempt to bring a smile to your face… as I connect the commonplace everyday nuggets into meaningfully connected insights.

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Rajendran Dandapani

Rajendran Dandapani

Business Solutions Evangelist at Zoho Corp. President at The Zoho Schools Of Learning.

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