Typically, almost by definition, marketing is thought of as the practice of selling creations (products, services, ideas, art). But I think one of the most fundamental impacts of digital marketing is that, these days, the most effective marketing is the process of creating. Often, the best way to sell a finished product is to allow people to experience the process of creating that product.
It used to be that companies (or musical artists, for that matter) used to lock themselves in a factory/studio/conference room and keep every aspect of a product’s development under lock and key until such time as the product was “finished.” Anything unfinished was a state secret; anything “imperfect” was to be hidden at all costs.
This approach, old school industrial revolution to its core, short sells both the intelligence and the curiosity of consumers and fans. Now, the most vibrant marketers are those who provide exciting ways for fans (and soon-to-be consumers) to glimpse what they will buy as it is being created. The point isn’t to be afraid of something that is unfinished or imperfect; the realization is that these not-yet-finished products serve only to whet your appetite for what will come.
A while back, I shared a J. Cole track that was clearly unfinished and wrote about this very topic. At the time, the unfinished parts of the song didn’t frustrate me– they served to spark my imagination for how it might come to be. And now, as the finished (?) song has been leaked, I don’t just have a song from an emerging artist. I have the denouement to a series of artistic what-ifs that I’ve been entertaining ever since.
Leave Me Alone f. Kevin Cossom, J. Cole
In today’s media landscape, is the best marketing the vicarious/messy/unpredictable/thrilling act of creating?
For more on this, check out an older entry on how L20 did the same thing… before they got 3 Michelin stars and then the chef quit the next day and then they became a reality TV show ready to happen.