Have two and half minutes? Give it a watch.
How many people can you count that leave a tip for the musician? It is hard with the time-lapse, but let’s say it’s like a dozen. Out of hundreds of people passing by.
How many people stop to listen to him? One leans against the column for a while. But it is not until when someone (the lady with the shopping bag) really stops smacked in-front, that some people give themselves permission to stop as well. And like four or five people gather around him.
The violinist’s name is Joshua Bell, one of the most awarded violinists currently playing. The cheapest ticket to go see him at the Lincoln Center in New York runs currently for $236 on StubHub.
The video is from an experiment ran by the Washington Post, and the official tally is: from 1,097 people that passed by, Bell received $32.17 from 27 people, 7 stopped to listen, only one person recognized him. Those same 27 people willing to pay, would have meant more than $6,000 in ticket sales, and if we use the larger passersby figure, the number is just ridiculous.
Now what’s the point?
The point is that most of us don’t have the time to verify and recognize a product as “good” or “exceptional”. Most of us need someone to guide us, to classify and rank things for us, and then, place them in a setting according to their status, so that we can enjoy it adequately.
That’s marketing. So don’t tell me that marketing doesn’t generate value.
Everybody sees the irony of the story, but we still overlook the fact that Marketing generates value both for the vendor -which is pretty clear- but also for the consumer. In this experiment, because of poor Marketing, 1,090 people passed on the opportunity to listen to Joshua Bell and “save” about $231 ($236 for the ticket, minus the average tip size).
And what about Bell? Well he would be first beneficiary with some better Positioning and Placement. I bet there is also quite a draft by the door…