My brother forwarded to me on Facebook recently the YouTube video of singer Michael Young belting out “Unchained Melody” in a voice so boomingly rich and powerful it made me gasp.
Aside from my amazement at his surpassing talent, I noticed that, incredibly, people in the subway station walked right past him, tapping away at their cell phones, as if he didn’t exist. Granted, this performance took place in New York City, which has been called, “the world’s most competitive city.” As the song “New York, New York” says, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” This phrase has been taken as prophecy by the thousands of talented hopefuls who move to Manhattan every year seeking stardom or fortune. Many of them leave heartbroken and empty handed. Not all—but most.
Such talent deserves recognition. But in the talent-flooded marketplace that is The Big Apple, a predictable phenomenon occurs—-commoditization. According to Investopedia, commoditization is, “a process in which goods or services become relatively indistinguishable from competing offerings over time.”
In the business world, when what you’ve got has been commoditized, your ability to capture your audience’s attention has become severely compromised. In such an environment, your only advantage against your competitors is one of pricing. It happened in banking, car insurance, real estate sales and many other service-oriented professions. There are just too many of us. Only a few are willing to do the hard work and take the bold steps that will propel you over the ordinary.
This isn’t to dissuade anyone from pursuing their creative or entrepreneurial dreams. Quite the reverse. If there’s a “must do” in you, then you must do it. Just understand this—you’ve got to be better than everyone else at building a platform of devoted followers of you, not your products or services.
Your expertise, your reputation for delivering valuable content, and the frequency of which eyeballs and ears are exposed to your presence and messaging determines your success in today’s marketing environment.
You must embrace the Internet as an important medium in your marketing mix for building your platform. Why? Because it’s where people’s attention is. At the same time, you mustn’t abandon traditional awareness building channels. Find out how your audience consumes content, and then go there to provide value.
As for Michael Young, the man with a singing voice as powerful as a speeding freight train, demonstrating his unique talent on a subway station platform (traditional, non-Internet attention getting device), and capturing video of the performance for YouTube (digital channel), was sheer genius. This particular YouTube video has been viewed 1.7 million times, not counting “shares” on Facebook.
In one week’s time, his video’s notoriety won the attention of the media, earning Michael the opportunity to sing “Unchained Melody” on the “Late Show with James Corden.” The video was viewed an additional 7.9 million times. All told, it’s estimated that the video was seen by more than 40 million viewers.
It’s all in the strategy, moxie, determination, talent, creativity and willingness to follow and serve your market’s attention, wherever it wants to go.