Last year, after watching a River Cottage-esque daytime TV programme about the countryside, I decided to learn how to forage for mushrooms.
Don’t worry, this isn’t another inflation-busting tip on how to reduce the cost of your weekly shop by scouring the forest floor for food instead. It’s just a fun hobby that results in some nice walks and delicious food.
As the weather warms up and the mushrooms begin to appear over the next few months, I’ll be heading out again with my eyes to the ground.
The holy grail of the mushroom-hunting world is a Penny Bun. You know those expensive Porcini mushrooms that cost £5 for a tiny bag in the supermarket? That’s a Penny Bun – they use the Italian name to make it sound fancy and push the price up but, if you know what you’re doing, you can find them for free in a nearby forest.
However, before you start cooking up a mushroom risotto, there is a distinct identification process that you must follow. While the fungus you find in the UK isn’t as dangerous as the cordyceps that Maddie wrote about recently, making the wrong decision about what you do and don’t eat can lead to a few very uncomfortable days. In rare cases, it could be fatal.
Interestingly, the process of identifying a mushroom can teach you some important lessons about choosing the right marketing agency to work with.
The golden rule of foraging
The introduction to every foraging course or mushroom identification book is the same. You’ll find scare stories about people eating poisonous mushrooms, designed to hammer home the golden rule of foraging – if you are not 100% what you’re dealing with, don’t eat it.
In other words, don’t rush into decisions that could prove fatal. Instead, take the time to do your research and check all of the small details so you can be sure that this is the mushroom you’re looking for.
Start with the family
When identifying a mushroom, you always start with the family. We’re looking for Penny Buns, which are part of the Boletus family. They’re usually quite big and, crucially, they have a spongy texture underneath the cap, rather than the gills you find on most mushrooms.
So, when I’m scanning the area, I’m looking for a specific subsection of mushroom to narrow my search and give me more focus, thereby increasing my chances of finding the coveted Penny Bun. It’s a good idea to take the same approach with your marketing.
If you’re a financial planner searching for a marketing agency and you come across a business that specialises in hospitality marketing, you can discount them and keep looking.
Relationships are important
Fungus is an amazing thing. Those mushrooms you see on the surface are like the flowers but there are miles and miles of tendrils, called “mycelia”, sitting beneath the ground. They spread out and latch onto the roots of surrounding plants, creating relationships with the forest around them.
These relationships are key when you’re trying to identify a delicious mushroom. Penny Buns have a symbiotic relationship with pine trees, sharing nutrients so they both thrive.
But some mushrooms, like the Honey Fungus, have a parasitic relationship with trees, latching onto them and draining all their resources until they are dead.
So, if I think I’ve spotted a big Bolete and it looks like it could be a Penny Bun, my next step is to consider the relationship it has with the trees around it, as this can often tell you whether you are on the right track or not.
When you’re looking for a marketing agency, check some reviews and consider the relationship it has with existing clients.
Is it a positive relationship like that of the Penny Bun and the pine tree, sharing the vital information and skills that your business needs to grow? Or are they more like a honey fungus, sending you a monthly invoice and draining resources without providing value in return?
The devil is in the detail
I’ve spotted a big mushroom nestled under a pine tree in the distance. On closer inspection, it has the characteristic spongy bottom of a Bolete, but is it a Penny Bun?
The devil is in the detail and before putting it in my bag, I need to check all of the small features. What does the stem look like? Are there markings on the top? What shape is the bulb under the ground?
Often, two mushrooms look the same on the surface, but when you dig down into those small details, you find that one is perfectly safe to eat while the other one is poisonous.
The additional services and perks that an agency offers can make a huge difference to your business, so always be thorough and check the small details. After all, the wrong decision could leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Get in touch
At Yardstick, we always strive to deliver real value. By prioritising client relationships and focusing on the details, we can be the Penny Bun to your pine tree, providing you with everything you need to grow.
Contact us at email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300 to find out how.
This blog is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered advice. If you are planning to forage for mushrooms, do your research and always remember the golden rule!