Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Without Further Comment II

Tho' it comes from a book about retail advertising, this is more or less the same way I feel about public relations.

"You remember that Emerson said, “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, tho’ he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”

All this sounds lofty and noble, but I submit that it just isn’t so. A middling good mousetrap (not buried in the woods), superbly marketed and superbly advertised, would far outsell the better one.

Of course, if your mousetrap is functionally superior, a few people will traipse through the tangle to your cabin (one at a time); and you’ll sell a better mousetrap or two (now and then). Eventually you might have a nice beaten track. But meanwhile you’d be up to your ears in unsold mousetraps, neatly stacked on the front stoop of your cabin.

Eventually, word-of-mouth praise might acquaint quite a few people with your better product—but you’d go broke while you waited. It gets mighty lonely out there in the woods—just you and your inventory and your intermittently beaten path."

Credit for this, again, goes to Bernice Fitz-Gibbon, retail advertising maven and author of Macy's, Gimbels, and Me. Which is a superb little read if you, like me, enjoy books on advertising theory, with lots of examples which were revolutionary at the time but would likely work in The New Yorker and then only in theory.

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