I collect these things…whatever you choose to call them, garden trowel, hand spade, little bitty shovel. I don’t collect them as in buy me one for my birthday. I collect them as in I can’t leave one on the shelf at a thrift store when it’s 77 cents. Also, I keep them stashed all over the back and front yard so there is always one handy because, yes, I lack focus.
But this one here is my favorite. It’s a Smith & Hawken, sort of a fancy brand when it comes to gardening. I would never pay what they ask for this new, though I think I did pay over a dollar for this one, used. It has a design flaw; a little tin cone fits over the spot where my index finger is. It comes loose eventually (this has happened to me on other S&H hand garden tools) and you need to cut it off with tin snips, or re-fasten it. Can you say, “superfluous”?
Other than this minor inconvenience, it is my favorite garden tool. It is stainless steel, so it doesn’t rust (admittedly, I like it when stuff rusts but in this case, I make an exception). The thing of it is is, the way it feels in my hand. At last count, I own a dozen of these little shovel things and none of them feel as good in my hand as this one. It’s not only the weight, it’s the balance and, I’m sorry to say, the way it looks in my hand.
There are dozens of things about marketing that I know but cannot explain. I know that a certain word works better than another, but I can’t explain to you why. I just know. I know that this font is wrong and that font is right and I cannot tell you anything about how I know.
Weight. Balance. Material. Design. Shape.
If anyone ever tells you they understand these things better than others do, in some objective sense, escort them, politely, out of your presence. Nobody knows nothing. If I invited you all over to test drive my little shovels and pick your favorite, the results would be… you guessed it, varied.
So what’s a marketing guy to do?
Pick the shovel that feels good in your hand and dig like hell. Dig like you own the soil. Dig like no other hand spades or garden trowels exist. Dig like you invented digging.
There’s a lot of marketing science out there, and I have written elsewhere about how that voodoo is all good and well. Mostly, it can bite me.
What I know for certain is, it has to feel good in your hand, the weight, the balance, the design of the thing. Listen to yourself first and give yourself extra points on the vote because who you are matters on a very basic level when it comes to growing whatever it is you are trying to grow, tomatoes or peas or whatnot. When they try and tell you otherwise, it is time to find a new garden.