Seth Godin, one of the few marketing experts worth paying attention to, posted a brief blog entry today about a segment of the population he calls Noisy People. These are the people who actually talk about things, comment in blogs and evangelize the things they like. He points out, correctly in my opinion, that attracting the Noisy People can cut you off from the mainstream.
Here’s his conclusion:
So, if you want to reach the masses, you’ll need to realize that changing your story (but not your essence) is part of the deal. It’ll disappoint your noisy people, no doubt about it. But if you’re authentic in the core of what you offer, they’ll forgive you. The challenge is in creating a product or service or platform that can sustain both stories.
I think you’ll recognize in that statement a justification for what creative people call “selling out”. Most creative people are so terrible at marketing that they neglect it entirely, so they never even appeal to the noisy people. How many people do you know who have been fortunate enough to make the choice about whether to sell out or not?
Ivory tower creative types, the kind that no one actually knows about because the art they create has never been seen, think that their creations should be sold only on its artistic merits. Instead of thinking that the core is the most important aspect of what they create, they feel the core is the only important part.
Think about the story of what you create. Use the story. Tell the story. If the story is interesting enough, it will get repeated by the Noisy People. Then, if you are extremely lucky, you will be able to choose whether or not to sell out to the mainstream.