It’s a popular myth, according to Entrepreneur magazine in a small-business start-up myths article.
It’s a myth that’s easy to believe:
- Some advertising techniques to market your venture cost money — money that you’d rather keep;
- Your friends are all encouraging you to go ahead; and
- You’re so good at what you do! How can the world not love you?
But being good at what you do doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. In the initial flurry of starting a new business, it’s easy to mistake the good wishes of people with actual buying intent.
You will find that intention isn’t enough as weeks pass and the intention evaporates, or gets distracted by the next shiny, new thing. And you realize you can’t take intentions to the bank.
Being good at what you do isn’t enough to succeed
If you ever needed a prime example of how being good isn’t enough, think of Joshua Bell.
Joshua Bell is a world-renowned violinist. He travels the world, giving around 150 concerts a year. His recordings are consistently #1 on the Billboard classical chart. On Friday, January 12, 2007 at 7:51 a.m., this classical music superstar went incognito to a busy subway station in Washington, DC, took out his 300-year-old, $4‑million Stradivarius violin, and busked for loose change like any street performer.
It was an experiment. In an ordinary setting, with a ton of distractions, and no cues as to quality, would art transcend the moment and stop people in their tracks?
In discussing the experiment, editors at The Post Magazine discussed likely outcomes of having this good-looking, famous violin virtuoso playing well-loved pieces on a rich-sounding instrument in a busy metro where the acoustics were, surprisingly, pretty good. The editors were concerned about crowd control.
They needn’t have worried. Seven people stopped to listen for a minute or two. One stopped for nine minutes. Here’s the YouTube video:
Bell made $32.17 during his 43-minute concert. Yes, some people gave pennies.
One thousand and ninety-seven people passed, and only seven people stopped to listen to the world-famous violinist. Some of those passers-by might have even heard Bell two nights before at a concert in the area, but they walked right on past him on their way to work.
Gene Weingarten, the writer of the Pulitzer-prizewinning article about the subway stunt, reports that Bell said, “‘It was a strange feeling, that people were actually, ah … ignoring me.’”
Bell set up his business in the metro, but no one had to stop and listen.You set up your business, but no one has to buy.
Are you making Bell’s big mistake?
Bell made it hard for people because he didn’t look like a big deal. There was just the product. None of the cues were present to tell us that here was an important player on a priceless instrument playing music that has endured over centuries. What he was doing was like trying to sell Dom Pérignon in a paper cup.
But there was no packaging here. No tickets. No tuxedo. No stage. No printed programs. No symphony hall. No crowd of other listeners dressed in their finery. No advertising techniques. No buzz. No TV ads. No publicist. No newspaper articles. No Twitter feed. No promo patter about the event on local radio. No procession of luxury cars entering a symphony hall parking lot. No police directing traffic: nothing to tell you that this was a Big Deal.
Without the packaging, Joshua Bell was just a guy in a ball cap playing a fiddle.
Advertising techniques make your business important to people
Like Bell, you’ve got all kinds of skills.
But how would anyone know?
In fact, you’re the answer to several problems staring your potential customers right in the face.
But how would anyone know?
How will you get them to take out their earbuds and listen to you?
Do your advertising techniques show that you’re really playing to win with your enterprise?
Are you even using any advertising techniques?
Not using advertising techniques has got you working cheap. It’s got you fighting in the market on the basis of price, and as you fight for the bottom, your dreams suffer. As your dreams get smaller, this career that you once held a passion for becomes a prison. If you think “prison” is too strong a word, what else would you call this thing you’ve created that’s paying you slave wages? With no escape? And making you watch your loved ones go without?
Stop scrambling from day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck. Stop hoping that a few people will support you enough to keep your business afloat.
Start being in demand. Start turning business away. Start using the power of advertising techniques to make people wonder how they got along without you. And start doing it while you’ve still got some start-up funds.
Most new businesses fail. Your business can be different. You’ll learn how in the letters to come. Stay tuned.