The great Scottish Poet Robert Burns famously wrote: "O wad some power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!”. According to Google-translate, this means that it would be a wonderful gift to be able to see ourselves through the eyes of others.
I’m not sure Burns was completely right about that. Of course, he is a revered and talented poet celebrated and loved by an entire nation, an insight into other peoples’ view of him could only end well…for most of us though it would be a high risk enterprise to spend a day looking at ourselves through other people’s eyes. It seems to me that since it is impossible for us to look at ourselves from other people's perspective, many of us waste a lot of time and opportunities by thinking we have an insight into the thoughts, opinions, and tastes of others– and this is a big mistake!
As both a yacht broker and a YouTuber, I have learned - often to my cost - that it is impossible to know what other people are thinking, even when they tell you! A great example of this happened a few years ago, shortly before the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix. A captain friend called me because his boss wanted to charter a yacht for the event. The boss in question already owned two yachts, but these would be full of his friends and family, so he wanted something he could use to get away from the crowds for some peace and quiet. Just something small he said, a 50-60 meter yacht would be fine.
I rushed over to see my charter team and asked one of them to select some suitable yachts as soon as they possibly could, eager to show the captain that we were giving the enquiry the attention it deserved. It seemed like a relatively easy task, a slam dunk if you will. There were only a limited number of yachts meeting the requirements of the client available, and fewer still in the Monaco area for the dates of the Grand Prix.
Within the hour, the captain had a list of options, details of their crew, photos of the interiors, specifications of the toys on board and even sample menus from the chefs. I waited a couple of days hoping to arrange a visit on board one or two of them so that we could finalise a contract.
However, when I eventually called the captain to ask for some feedback, to my surprise I learned that the owner had decided to charter something totally different… more than twice the size of the yacht that he had asked for!
This type of story is quite common in the brokerage industry and I have known many of the world’s most successful yacht brokers to send a selection of yachts to their clients that go way beyond what the client originally asked for. They may include details of yachts considerably larger and more expensive than the original brief, and they may also include details of yachts that the client has previously indicated that he disliked. It would be easy to mistake this strategy for a lack of attention to the client’s requirements In reality, the success these brokers have tells me they have simply learned from experience that you can never second-guess your client. You may think you know what they want, but opinions, tastes, and circumstances are constantly changing so it’s wise not to assume anything!
As a YouTuber this is even more true. As I write this article, my YouTube channel has just reached the magic milestone of 100,000 subscribers and that would have been impossible without learning to listen to what my viewers want. And what they want is not always what I think they want, or what I want them to want!
Watch David in action on his YouTube Channel - Yachts for Sale- YouTube
Some of the videos I have produced are beautiful walk through videos of luxury yachts that are for sale. They are expensive to produce, beautifully edited to provide almost cinematographic quality and, I hope, quite engaging to watch. Other videos are simply filmed with me sitting behind my desk talking about what is happening in the yachting industry with a few images overlaid so that the viewer does not get tired of seeing my face!
Time and time again, the videos I believe will be popular actually under-perform compared to others that I expect to be less popular. Cinematographic quality, time taken to write a storyboard, and what I think my viewers will enjoy often has no bearing on the actual success of the video itself.
Once again, this is a common experience among YouTubers. I recently spoke to my friend and fellow YouTuber Captain Tristan Mortlock who has a popular YouTube channel called ‘Super Yacht Captain’ where he shares an insight into his world as captain of the motor yacht AWOL, a 37m motor Sanlorenzo.
Tristan’s videos vary in content and have exciting titles such as “How to Fight a Fire on a Superyacht” and “Brabus Speedboat 60 MPH Thrill Ride”, so I was surprised when I saw that he had published a video simply called “Refuelling a Superyacht”. I watched the video out of curiosity and was surprised to find that it kept my attention from beginning to end, and I wasn’t the only one. This particular video has been watched over 600,000 times and is one of the channel’s most watched productions. Who would have thought? Clearly you just can’t second guess what may grab people’s attention.
In business I am coming to the conclusion that while it is important to listen carefully to what our clients want, at the same time, sometimes we should not be afraid to offer something completely different. Most of us have complex lives that are subject to all kinds of events and experiences that change our tastes and moods in the blink of an eye. A near fatal accident may make us decide to enjoy life more and spend more money. Divorce or tax legislation can totally change a person’s budget, and simply passing by a shop window with certain music playing can lead us to make a purchase that we would never normally contemplate.
If this is true for us, it is most certainly true for other people too. We don’t know whether or not our clients will like the look of a pre-owned yacht just because they have only ever bought new yachts; we don’t know whether they would enjoy watching a yacht being refuelled on YouTube, and we will never know if we don’t at least try to find out.
We should never second-guess.