Building it up, one layer at a time

One of my all time favorite albums is The Trinity Session, by Cowboy Junkies.

I know the usual music geek factoids about this album, like that it was recorded direct to digital tape in a historic church using a single Calrec ambisonic microphone. But recently I was perusing the Wikipedia article for it when I learned two things that remind me of your journey from generalist to specialist.

First, they did a bit of “social engineering” to convince the church to rent the space to the band for the recording. From Wikipedia:

To better persuade the officials of the historic church, the band claimed to be The Timmins Family Singers and said they were recording a Christmas special for radio.

This makes me think of the situation many of you are in when you’re moving into a new, more narrow market position.

What if you don’t have any proof elements that are directly related to your new focus?

Sometimes you have to get creative. Again, I don’t mean fabricating anything or distorting the truth, I just mean to think creatively about whether you could adapt existing proof elements, or find unexpected ways to use those existing proof elements to support a seemingly unrelated market position.

The second interesting thing I learned about the recording of that album is they structured the recording session to move from simple to complex. In that way, it was like a software project. It’s also like how I suggest you approach developing a marketing program.

From Wikipedia (bold is my added emphasis):

The session began on the morning of 27 November 1987. The group first recorded the songs with the fewest instruments and then the songs with gradually more complex arrangements. In this way Moore and the band were able to solve acoustic problems one by one. To better balance Margo Timmins’s vocals against the electric guitars and drums, she was recorded through a PA system that had been left behind by a previous group. By making subtle changes in volume and placement relative to the microphone over six hours, Moore and the band had finally reached the distinctive sound of the album by the time the last of the guest musicians arrived at the church.

On a recent Freelancers’ Show episode I found myself saying to co-panelist Jonathan Stark that nobody starts out at awesome. Everybody builds, iterates, and generally fails their way forward from a much less awesome starting place to where they are today.

If you don’t believe me, take any hero of yours and look at an older version of their website using the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It’s endlessly fascinating to me to do that with my personal marketing or business heros.

If you want to improve your marketing, start small. Don’t feel like you have to implement ninja-level stuff from day 1. Add things in layers, just like Cowboy Junkies did when recording that landmark album.


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