I'm a researcher.
Let me give you the latest example…
My headphones broke. You know, the connection, by the plug, so that one ear goes in and out. In the seventies, you'd get this fixed. Today, it costs more to repair than to rebuy, and the art of repair seems to have gone by the wayside, craftsmanship is neither taught nor expected. Come on, aren't you stunned when your auto mechanic actually fixes the problem? If he does, you tell everybody you know about him, you're loath to switch brands for fear of losing him.
Bottom line, I need a new pair of Sennheisers.
Don't get the wrong idea. These are my out and about headphones, they cost thirty-odd dollars.
But they no longer sell the same model.
There's one that looks the same, and costs the same, but if you go on Amazon you'd be stunned at the complaints. You see they're just not LOUD enough! Other sounds creep in. And that's a no-go.
But you won't learn this on the Sennheiser site.
And the vaunted headphone.com doesn't sell this model.
What do I do know?
We're all looking for more information. But we live in a withholding, gotcha culture. None could be worse than the record business. Wherein we let you hear one song on the radio, and if you like that you can buy ten more, unheard, for fifteen bucks. That was the CD paradigm. Sound outdated? You bet. Today no one other than a diehard fan is going to purchase an album without hearing most of it first. They'll just buy the single, and move on.
We want more information. That we can trust.
But no one is providing this. Because they believe that sales is more important than marketing. Because they oftentimes don't believe in the product itself.
And that's key. Especially in music. Great sales and marketing will never help a lame song. To break through the clutter your material almost has to sell itself.
But you can't get anybody to admit this. Which is one of the reasons music is such a turnoff. Everybody's beholden to something other than the truth. Labels are beholden to the corporate board. Radio is beholden to advertisers. And acts are delusional. Which is why we depend upon our friends. Because we can trust no one else.
But what if there was a trustworthy source…
Long after midnight I found this article in the "New York Times" about marketing and selling pools:
"A Revolutionary Marketing Strategy: Answer Customers' Questions": http://nyti.ms/YdH7rX
This guy Marcus Sheridan's fiberglass pool company hit the skids in the recession. It went from selling six pools a month to barely two. He cut his $250k a year marketing budget by ninety percent and started to blog.
And sales shot back up.
Did Marcus Sheridan stand on a rooftop and say his was the best pool company out there?
OF COURSE NOT!
He ranked his competitors. Gave them kudos. Didn't even mention his own company.
But Marcus smiled on the inside. Because he knew he owned the customer, because the customer was surfing on his site.
I'll buy from Amazon even if it's not the lowest price. I trust them. I know third parties using the site will always come through, they're afraid of getting blasted in the ratings. Amazon owns me.
Marcus Sheridan owns the pool business.
Yup, Google anything about pools, and his site comes up. Through a sheer plethora of information.
As for social networks?
HE DOESN'T BELIEVE IN THEM!
Just because it's the latest and the greatest, that doesn't mean it works.
"Q. Once you wrote a blog post, how much time did you spend promoting it on Twitter and Facebook?
A. I didn't. Dude, that one article on price has never been tweeted. It's never been Facebooked. I'm not saying social media doesn't help, but it's nowhere near what people think. The only metric that really matters is total pages viewed. Here's a statistic for you: If somebody reads 30 pages of my River Pools Web site, and we go on a sales appointment, they buy 80 percent of the time. The industry average for sales appointments is 10 percent. So, our whole marketing campaign revolves around getting people to stick around and read our stuff, because the longer they stay on our site, the greater the chance they're going to fall in love with our company."
I love anybody who is willing to question the conventional wisdom. That's what endeared me to Marcus Sheridan. Most people follow the herd, they do dumb marketing. Marcus is all about being smart.
And now he's become a consultant.
Hell, I'm savvy enough to know that this article didn't appear on the "Times" by itself, via luck. Marcus is working it. And that makes me question the veracity of his vision. Still, what he says rings true, because I WANT INFORMATION!
If you hype your own band, I don't care.
But if someone unconnected to you does, I'm interested.
And if that someone keeps telling me about good stuff, I trust them.
But almost no one adheres to the above rules. Self-promoters are rampant. Recommenders don't ask themselves if I'D like it. I get that THEY like it, but they read me, they know my taste…how come they think I'D like this?
So I went to Marcus's website, http://www.riverpoolsandspas.com
I was stunned at the amount of information provided. You could fall down the rabbit hole and have no time to swim.
And then I clicked through to http://www.thesaleslion.com, Marcus's consultancy site.
And was confronted with this:
"10 Reasons Why Employees SHOULD be Required to Participate in Blogging and Content Marketing"
And you'll change your corporate philosophy.
Imagine if everybody at Universal Music blogged. That would do more to sell recordings than just about anything else, especially if the writers talked about music they liked on other labels, to build their credibility. But the vaunted Lucian Grainge is not net-savvy. As for Doug Morris…he believes in radio. Something I never ever listen to, I'm done with terrestrial, I just can't handle the formatted playlists and the commercials. In other words, Doug is preaching to a dwindling audience. As for the outliers, soon to be the mainstream…IGNORE THEM!
I don't know a single person who doesn't use Google.
It's the Go-To of life. Whether you're researching old girlfriends, movie times or wanna buy something.
As for music…
If you don't want to know more about it and the people who made it, you're not a fan.
Today you have to know how to write. How to communicate. You must establish trust as opposed to banging people on the head to buy.
It's the opposite of everything we've been taught in the music business.
But it's a brand new day.
P.S. The Sennheiser headphones I own, that broke, are the PMX 60. The replacement model, that they're complaining about on Amazon, is the PMX 90.
Research tells me I can switch to Polk or Grado. But they look bulkier.
I'm honestly thinking of overpaying a scalper for the old model. I know what it is, that it works. I want to waste neither time nor money. I'm staying with the trusted source. Everybody's reluctant to switch. But getting them into your corner to begin with? That takes more than yelling, more than convincing, it takes honesty and openness.
P.P.S. Read the negative reviews of the PMX 90 here: http://amzn.to/14bdmsD