You’ve probably heard this story. Depending on who re-tells it, the perspective shifts and the lessons vary.
In 2007 the world-renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, busked at a Washington subway station for 45 minutes during morning rush-hour, playing a violin valued at over $3.5 million. For the duration of his performance 1,097 people passed, 7 stopped and 27 gave him money. He collected the grand total of $32.17. Two days previous he’d played to a sold-out audience in a Boston theatre for an average of $100 per seat.
The moral of this story?
There are many of course. One is that people don’t take the time in their busy lives anymore to stop for ‘beauty’.
But there’s another one for entrepreneurs or business owners who still believe that they don’t need to invest in marketing because they are so good at what they do.
Over the years I’ve heard one argument over and over as to why they don’t ‘need’ to market. “Because I provide such great value, word will get out and the clients will come.”
Sure, word will get out and you will referrals. But how many, how regular and how long will it take to build up your referrals network? In today’s world of endless choice, you certainly won’t build a business on random word-of-mouth marketing, nor will you last very long if you think the value of your service alone will do the marketing for you.
Let’s get back to the original story above.
Why did those people NOT stop and listen to the legendary Joshua Bell – even if was rush hour? He played pieces from his sold out concerts, so content wasn’t the issue. The standard of his playing was, as always, excellent (there’s a video of his performance to prove it), so premium value was a given.
There are a few reasons and they are central to what successful marketing is all about.
- He was playing to the wrong audience. In marketing terms he was not connecting with his ideal clients, i.e. those who value what he has to offer and are willing to pay for it. One of the primary functions of marketing is to establish who your ideal clients are and how to reach them
- Just getting yourself ‘out there’ is a total waste of effort. If you want to be heard, it’s vital that you get the attention of your audience – even if you are a world-class performer. It’s not enough to just know who your ideal clients are; you also have to know how and where you can connect with them
- You have to speak to your audience in THEIR language. When Bell plays in classical venues, it’s a given that his audience ‘speaks’ his language. If people don’t pay attention to you, it may be you don’t know how to speak to them so that they understand you and they ‘know’ that you know them.
- Branding your service or product is essential, i.e you have to package your content appropriately, i.e. . Your brand must resonate with your ideal client so that they instantly ‘know’ you are speaking just to them. Playing Bach with a baseball cap at a busy metro station doesn’t give those who appreciate his music the experience they expect, e.g. excellent acoustics, no distractions, dress code, etc.
- Don’t try to convince someone of the value of your service. (Trying to convince someone of your value is hard selling!) They have to already value what you offer. Even then you still have to ‘market’. If people are already willing to pay for a ticket to see Bell, they still need to be informed when and where he’s performing, his concert programme and what their ticket options are
Why marketing is not an option?
You may have a terrific product or service, but your success depends on getting enough people to buy from you rather than from someone else. That’s why marketing is not an option for your business.
If successful marketing is about making it easy for potential clients to find you and then giving them compelling reasons to buy from you, then why oh why do so many businesses have so many problems with it?
That’s a BIG question with many, many different answers.
Here’s one simple answer for starters. They don’t know the difference between marketing and selling.
The Washington Post repeated the experiment with Joshua Bell in 2014 – with a very different outcome!Learn More