In her latest Thursday Night Insight Article, Business Development Manager Julia Cupman uses the analogy of a particular genre of music to encourage marketers to listen and let the market speak.
I have played the cello since the age of 7. My cello (and music of course) is a very important part of my life, to the extent that I have called my cello a name: Anya, a German name as it was made in Saxony in 1785. (There is a picture of my beloved Anya – and my right leg! – on my profile on our website).
As I write this blog piece at home in my living room, I have the cello suites of Johann Sebastian Bach playing in the background on my CD player. For those of you who are not classical music fans, Bach was one of the greatest composers of all times, was born in 1685, and is often referred to as “the father of all music”. Bach is like avocadoes, licorice and aniseed – it is an acquired taste. You either love Bach, or you hate it.
Most musicians can recognize Bach from listening to just a three second excerpt of his music. He has a distinct and profound style. Much of what he wrote was for solo instrument, such as the cello suites, which were long regarded as dry exercises until around 1890 when Pablo Casals, a young Catalan musician, came across them in a music shop in Barcelona. This was a turning point in the history of Bach’s music. Casals took the cello suites to heart, personalizing Bach into his own style – Bach as Casals wanted him to be – and over 100 cellists have since followed in Casals’ footsteps, recording their own versions of the Bach suites and ultimately announcing their own sub-brand of Bach.
So why have so many people taken a musical product and given it their own style and identity?
I believe it is because his works allow the musician a huge amount of freedom in interpretation and expression. His music is simply everything: it is light, intense, morose, playful, and much more. This is because a musician has, in my opinion, more artistic license playing Bach than playing any other composer. His music almost tells a story that interweaves through musical phrases each expressing different moods and which often lead to a climax with something almost erotic about it (Bach did father twenty children after all!) And what is so fascinating to me is comparing different renditions of Bach – like asking a group of people to each dress a salad and observing the end result.
It’s clear that Bach is differentiated and unique. Whatever the style, whoever the musician, whenever it is played and wherever this may be, his music will nevertheless always be Bach.
You may be wondering what on earth this has all got to do with marketing. What I’m trying to say to marketers is that your offering is so much more than just a product, just as Bach’s music is so much more than mere dots on a manuscript. What counts is how you market your product to your audience and how your customers interact with it. Take responsibility for your product, breathe life into it and regenerate it, just as Casals resuscitated the Bach cello suites and cast them into the public arena, captivating the masses across the globe and uniting them through a common yet idiosyncratic theme. And what I find so inspirational about Bach is how a master’s works of over three centuries of age have been reborn and are continuing to live through the power of music.
Never underestimate the importance of how your customers engage with your product and always seek views on how it can be improved in order to ensure its long life and constant evolution. Many composers are nothing without the musicians that let their music speak, just as your product really only exists as a result of market demand.
With this in mind I can conclude as follows: never stop listening, learning and evolving, and the market will always speak.