The Value Proposition
About a hundred years ago, sheet music publishers got mightily pissed off. The invention of the record player revolutionized music consumption. Prior to this new technology, you’d buy the sheet music and learn to play songs yourself. But now you could set up a machine in your house and play professionally recorded albums by popular recording artists and full bands — even orchestras! In your living room! Suddenly the value proposition was out of balance: sheet music wasn’t as appealing or valued as records.
While the example is over-simplified, and slightly over-dramatized, the concept of the value proposition seems to be lacking in many of the musicians on the scene today. In short, the concept is simple: “what’s in it for me?”
Think of it this way: when you buy a car, you’re trying to spend as little as possible and get as much car as you can. Nobody wants to overpay or feel like they’re getting screwed. If you’re paying for a Ferrari, you don’t want to go home with a Honda. Within reason (and reality), people will find a way to get the things they want. The balance has to be right. The value proposition has to be there. Honda money doesn’t buy Ferraris. But when there’s value for dollar, when you’re product aligns with their need, you’re totally golden. Here it is in simple, big, obvious print:
If you have something people want, they’ll buy it.
Right now, you’re probably thinking this is the most bone-headed, obvious statement you’ve ever heard. If that’s true, then (you brilliant musician, you…), head on over to your merch page. Is anyone buying the dee-lux edition of your CD for $49.95? Are they buying your 99-cent single? Are they buying anything? If the answer is no, ask yourself: do they want it? Removing your ego from the discussion, understand that alongside your masterpiece there’re thousands of others just as good as yours. So where’s the value proposition for the consumer? Why should they buy your music/merch/pitch? What makes YOU stand out?
Marketing isn’t about making people buy something — that’s sales. Marketing is about making people WANT something. You’ve put out a new album – how do you convince people that they want it? Are you really doing everything you can to entice a potential fan?
Finally, are you authentic? Today, more than ever, people smell bullshit from a mile away. If it sounds overly contrived, if there’s something obviously missing from your pitch/presentation, if you can’t prove and provide the value of your product effortlessly … you’ve failed to provide a successful value proposition. Your fans (and their money) will be forced to go elsewhere.