“Marketing is what you do when you have a sh#tty product.” – Christopher Lochhead
I’ll never forget hearing that for the first time. It came out of the mouth of a software engineer turned entrepreneur/CEO.
He ended up wrapping his company around a lamp post. His entire executive team left and his investors lost money. Now he’s king shit of turd island.
In spite of stories like this, a lot of people still believe that the best product wins. They believe it, like they believe in the availability of oxygen.
Now. Consider this.
In 2007 legendary violinist Joshua Bell partnered with two-time Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post for “an experiment in context, perception and priorities”.
Bell would play in a Washington D.C. Metro station and The Post would film it. Then Weingarten would analyze what happened.
Now, you must know. Joshua Bell is an “internationally acclaimed virtuoso”. He regularly plays to sold out crowds. Audiences hang on his every note. He makes $1,000 a minute. And, “chicks dig him”.
So Bell, dressed like a busker, wearing a Washington Nationals cap, positioned himself near a trash can in a Metro station. He opened his case and proceeded to play. His $14 million violin that was “handcrafted” in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari.
Weingarten at The Post wanted to know if people would be moved by mastery of music as they passed by and how would people value this legendary sound.
What do you think happened?
Weingarten asked Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra what he thought would happen.
“…out of 1,000 people, my guess is there might be 35 or 40 who will recognize the quality for what it is. Maybe 75 to 100 will stop and spend some time listening.”
He also said that a crowd would gather and Bell would make $150.
This is what actually happened.
Joshua Bell played for about 45 minutes.
Sixty-three fucking people walked right by. Then after three minutes, a middle-age guy, turned his head, but kept walking.
Weingarten goes on to report, “seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.”
Weingarten poses the question, “If a great musician plays great music but no one hears… was he really any good?”
The question I pose is, “If a great creator, designs a legendary product but no one buys it… was it really worth it?
The perception of your product/service IS your product/service.
You’re in the perception manufacturing business.
And your product is an important part of how you make powerful perceptions, but it’s far from the whole sha-bang.
People do not automatically “know” something is highly differentiated, highly valuable, and worth investing in, until someone tells them.
It turns out, marketing is what you do, when you have a legendary product.
CHRISTOPHER LOCHHEAD is a #1 Apple Business Podcaster, #1 Amazon Marketing author, and a “Godfather of Category Design”.