Biz Lessons From the World’s Ugliest Lawn


Ripped from the headlines…

An Australian woman now holds the prize for owning “The World’s Ugliest Lawn” thanks to a global competition hosted by a water-thirsty municipality in Sweden.

Gotland, Sweden’s government launched the contest after a draught nearly left the island municipality without water.

Organizers thought they might inspire water conservation if they made ugly, un-watered lawns something to celebrate.

They may be right. Water consumption in Gotland has fallen by 5% thanks to the competition and other measures, according to The Guardian newspaper.

Below is a photo of contest winner Kathleen Murray, standing on her award-winning ugly lawn in Tasmania, Australia. Bandicoots (adorable little marsupials) have dug craters around the law and wallabies pluck the grasses that sprout. No lawn mowing, no water to create this ugly masterpiece.

In the photo, Kathleen is wearing her first-place prize, a t-shirt that says: “Proud owner of The World’s Ugliest Lawn.”

Her lawn out-uglied entries from Germany, France, Canada, Croatia, Sweden, the UK, and the USA.

That wouldn’t fly in my corner of St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

A few years ago, I walked around the block with my mutt, Moose, and noticed a neighbor manicuring his lawn.  

This wasn’t your standard roll-the-mower-over-the-grass job. This was high-intensity fuss-over-the-fescue.  

He was on his knees with a hand clipper, working the edges, getting everything right. Not just good enough. But perfect.  

After he perfected the edge, he stepped back, put his hands on his hips and studied his work, like a fine artist admiring his masterpiece.  

He was peacock proud, strutting his stuff. 

When I returned with Moose 45 minutes later, he was still out there, fussing.  

The fescue looked the same to me as it did 45 minutes earlier. But for my neighbor, this wasn’t just about how the lawn looked. This was about being seen as the Lawn Master. And the curtain had not yet dropped on his performance. 

That reminded me of something advertising pioneer John Caples said: 

“The most frequent reason for unsuccessful advertising is advertisers who are so full of their own accomplishments (the world’s best seed!) that they forget to tell us why we should buy (the world’s best lawn!).”

Caples reminds us to focus on the benefit (the world’s best lawn), not the feature (the world’s best seed). 

No doubt… You’ll attract prospects and drive sales if you promise the world’s best lawn, rather than the world’s best seed. 

Amen, but John Caples. But let’s take it one step further than you have. You can attract MORE prospects and drive MORE sales if you… 

…describe how your product and or service will make the customer FEEL.

If you buy our seeds… 

…You’ll no longer be embarrassed and ashamed of that dusty, weed patch in front of your house… 

…You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood…

…You’ll be the one whose neighbors say, “Your lawn looks great…”

…Your house will transform from a grimy shack to a stately manor…

…You’ll be peacock-proud.

The environmentally-aware folks in Gotland have turned this on its head.

Instead of attaching status to the most manicured, greenest, prettiest lawn, bestow champion status on the dustiest, ugliest lawn.

You’ll be the best environmental steward. You’ll be a champion planet-saver. Look how proud Kathleen Murray looks standing on that patch of dusty, cratered land.

Either way, it’s about status.

Find a way to make your clients feel peacock proud — like my lawn-crazy neighbor or Kathleen Murray. If your products and services can boost their self-esteem and status, prospects will buy.

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.