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Marketing Hack: Exist On A Different Shelf

The Weekly Takeaway is a short weekly digest sent to subscribers every Sunday about the biggest learning of my week. It's as much an internal log as it is public facing. Though, often I feel the process is something everyone can learn from — no matter the endeavor — so sharing here on the interwebs, as well.

Photo Credit: Woody Kelly, Upslash

The Weekly Takeaway: Where your product sits on the "shelf" matters Over the holidays, while companies and stores go into overdrive in order to push products to us, it's always interesting to take a moment to reflect on how they are marketing to us. One of the most obvious methods that always sticks out to me is the "checkout gauntlet," where you stand in line to check out while weaving through a curated maze of easy-to-grab products and snacks. I always find it hard not to grab something else — in this case a pack of waterproof playing cards — that I suddenly now "need." This happens digitally, too, as you've likely seen the "customers also bought" products linked below your recent purchase.

The same goes for a trip to the grocery store. How many times have you been suddenly "inspired" to make a pack of holiday cookies because you saw them conspicuously standing in the middle of the aisles or at the beginning of the store.

It all comes down to attention. "Your life is what you pay attention to," says pretty much any self-help blog post on They're not wrong, and advertisers and marketing pros know this. In the simple examples above, the products stood out to us because they commanded our attention, based on strategic placement and controlling our environment so that we see these things. In another context, where I am just cruising aisles looking at your pre-determined list, I might not have noticed the pack of cards or the holiday cookies that are now in my cart, since I didn't go into the store needing them.

OK, so that's interesting from the store's perspective. But what about on a product level? How would an individual product command more attention and a unique space without having to rely on the store placing that product in conspicuous spaces?

And thus I came across the story of 5-Hour Energy (courtesy of Stew Fortier's twitter account). The 5-Hour Energy founder, Manoj Bhargava, decided that instead of competing as a traditional 12-oz energy drink and existing alongside all the other beverages in stores' fridges, he'd make a simple shot designed to be sold on the checkout counter and would be instead competing against keychains and batteries. Why assume all those needing an energy boost are also in need of a drink, as well, anyway?

The takeaway? Find a way to have your product stand out on a different shelf than everyone else (as long as it still provides value there and earns its place!). You'll find an audience quicker that way, and will also be able to more directly speak to them as others just get lost in the traditional mix.

This is a lesson that I hope to impart on my own music making endeavors, as I eventually use this platform as an exploration of marketing techniques (which I'll share with you in case it helps to see how my process may be working and/or failing). For now, I'm staying focused on the pure creation and accumulation of good product, but eventually I'll lean more heavily into the process and analysis of how to grow an audience.

You may have noticed, though, that I've staked a claim on YouTube as one of my key distribution outlets. As a musician, this may seem like a weird thing to do, but this is very much on purpose. I find it's a better way to add value to the experience for anyone listening to my songs. Instead of just interacting with everyone via Spotify or Soundcloud song links, I'm hoping to exist on a slightly different shelf, too. I'm inviting you to take a minute and enter my "music making world." And hopefully, I can make you laugh or crack a smile with a stupid behind-the-scenes video or musical aside. Maybe you'll empathize with a song better seeing my expressions performing it on a green screen, or hearing a bit of the back story on how it was made. At the end of the day, I'll still have to earn my way on that new shelf, and I can't tell you how many hours of video editing and camera tutorials I've gone through (in addition to the music time) even for just a few simple videos. But hopefully it gives me another way to stand out beyond just the tunes, of which I'm competing against hundreds of millions.

More Inspiration On This Subject:

Lyric Of The Week That Stuck In My Head: "She's a lonely girl

And I'm a lonely guy

Any maybe that's why I thought we could be

lonely together"

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