List member Josh wrote me the following:
Here’s an example you might enjoy since it’s completely outside the tech / info product world.
My friend was in a Top 40 band about a decade ago. They had 2 or 3 hits in the 00’s and a couple of their songs were used on MTV shows. Then the band lost popularity and dissolved.
Since then, he’s still been paying the bills as a musician, but he wasn’t getting ahead playing bars and small gigs.
He knew he had to change his approach.
He researched the bands/musicians who played the much better paying corporate and festival gigs.
He researched the folks that did the hiring for those events.
He researched popular songs.
He researched popular styles.
Instead of being yet another singer-songwriter doing covers at a bar, he built a 1960s-styled Heartland Rock and Roll band that plays the best party rock songs from the last 40 years (with Bust a Move thrown in for giggles). They’re the same songs he’s been playing for years. But the pay is better because he has a label that people can grab on to and he owns a little bit of real estate in clients’ minds.
I’d be exaggerating if I said his new project is the most in-demand band in the area. But they are in demand and getting great gigs after only a couple months.
On his reply to my email asking for permission to share this, Josh CC’d his friend from the story, who is named Pat.
I asked Pat if he felt like he was condemning himself to a boring path by doing things the way he did? Isn’t making it in music about being creative and fresh?
Here’s Pat’s reply:
I looked at some of the obstacles in my way and made a conscious decision to pick my battles. I can’t be a hip 20 something again… honestly I wasn’t all that hip then! What I can do is, build off my strengths. Then research and find the best spot to test my “product” and THEN refine and tweak. A fresh take on tried and true hit songs.
Doing the “same as everyone else” was a fools errand. Finding a way to define yourself and then stand out in some way. That was my goal.
The positioning concept is a truly universal one that works in every context.