Sell them the dumplings, not the swords

What are the chances a big fat panda could become the Dragon Warrior, huh? Slim (if you’ll excuse the pun) to none, you’d assume.

Sketch of Po from Kung Fu Panda

Sell people what they want and they’ll almost always buy.

But in Kung Fu Panda, that’s just what happens. Noodle seller Po is selected by a wise old tortoise to become the valley’s next Dragon Warrior, ready to save the world from the evil (except he’s not, really, is he?) Tai Lung the panther.

How can this be?

How can Shifu turn him into a lean, mean, fighting machine from the comfy dumpling fan he starts off as?


He sells Po what he wants… and gives him what he needs.

Po wants dumplings (and noodles and cookies and sweets and nuts). Po kinda wants to learn kung fu… but he definitely doesn’t really want to become the Dragon Warrior.

So that’s Shifu’s plan: use food to train Po. If he wants that bowl of noodles, he’ll have to get himself up that tree to reach it. Want that dumpling? You’ll have to catch it first. How about that cookie? You’d better defeat Shifu in this chopstick battle.

Po gets what he wants: yumyums. Because that’s what Shifu sells him… Po puts in the effort to “buy” the food, and the food is his reward.

But what Po needs is skills as a kung fu master. Shifu gives him those for free.

Shifu’s mistake was trying to get Po to simply do as he was told.

Are you making that same mistake? Are you trying to sell people what they need before they know they want it? Or are you finding out what they want, and selling them that instead?

Which do you think will be easier?



Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.

PS Want some help working out what your customers want? Or even who they are? Buy a copy of my book, Business For Superheroes, and it’ll set you well on your way. 

2 comments… add one
  • Drayton Bird Nov 16, 2016, 7:22 am

    Nice one, Vicky – Chairman, The League of Drunken Old Dumplings.

    • Vicky Fraser Nov 17, 2016, 1:33 pm

      Thanks Drayton 😀

      I’m now considering starting a club called The League of Drunken Old Dumplings, just so you can be Chairman…

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