Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Promoting may not be the best way to spend your time

Wacky Waving Inflatable Flailing Arm Man
Image by jcrew270 via Flickr
Conventional wisdom tells us that time, money and energy need to be spent on promotion. Whether you work for a business, are in business for yourself or maybe you are the business of yourself, you'll feel the pressure to promote. And you'll find countless examples of others who spend lots of time, energy and money on promotion. Promote, promote PROMOTE!

But what if you took all that time you spent promoting your business, your venture, your product, yourself... and spent that time instead being truly remarkable?

How much time would you need to spend promoting if you were truly doing remarkable things?

The fact is that most things that are promoted aren't remarkable. They aren't that much different than other similar things, of which there may be dozens, hundreds or thousands. In effect, they are terribly average -- even if they are quite good. So someone has to promote these average things to take away mind-share from other interchangeable average things. If these things were instead remarkable, people would make remarks about them. In turn, other people would make remarks, and others... And the cycle perpetuates. Sans promotion, perhaps?

Of course, you can't be remarkable in a vacuum. Someone has to have knowledge of "the thing" before they can make remarks about "the thing". And to do that, someone needs to put "the thing" in front of the audience most likely to make those remarks. But is that promoting? Or is that just smart marketing? Or is it something else entirely?

So given the choice of spending time, money and energy on either promoting or being truly remarkable... which will you choose?

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  1. Would this depend on whether you're selling a product, a service or yourself?

    For instance, authors are generally told to promote their book as long as they took to write it.

    Self promotion never really stops, but that's because that's intertwined with what you're providing.

    If you're providing a service or a solution, this completely rings true. Results are all the promotion you'll need.

  2. I don't think it matters. If you're selling a product that's generally the same as any other competing product, then you didn't make a truly remarkable product. There's plenty of room for average products. And a healthy market has grown up around trying to convince the masses that said product is something more than average. I'm in it.

    Books aren't that different, in my experience. Authors are notoriously bad self-promoters. Publisher aren't that much better. The whole industry is due for an overhaul, but there's still a large market for average books just like any other book out there.

    But I'll grant you this: the person with the self-promo gene baked into the DNA will be likely be more successful than someone who has to force it, all things being equal. But things are rarely equal. And I think truly remarkable products -- not just excellent -- can hit it big without a lot of effort on promotion.


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