Imagine two musicians… one who plays a $3.5 million dollar violin and can sell out an entire auditorium at $100 a seat… and one who plays for people’s spare change in a train station.
What’s the difference between the two musicians?
Well, in at least one case… there is almost no difference at all.
This is a true story that’s fascinated me since I heard it a couple of years ago…
Joshua Bell, an internationally acclaimed viruoso violinist tried a bit of an experiment. He took his Stradivarius (worth $3.5 million) down to a Washington Metro train station and played for tips for about 45 minutes.
It’s important to note that Joshua Bell is a true star in the classical music world – just three days before this experiment he sold out the Symphony Hall in Boston, where the decent seats were priced at $100, and the best seats sold for a lot more.
The same musician, very different surroundings.
In the 45 minutes that Bell played in the train station, there were 1,097 people that walked by and heard him playing. Only 27 of those people left a tip in his open violin case. Only seven of them actually stopped to listen. Bell made a total of $32 in tips.
That wasn’t exactly world-class appreciation for his world-class talent.
Now, of course, there were several things at play here… for one, most of those people who rushed past were on their way to work, and undoubtedly distracted.
And although Joshua clearly knows how to perform to a sold-out auditorium, he probably doesn’t know much about being a successful street performer… that’s a different skill set.
But there was another HUGE factor at play here – and that’s what we call “positioning”…
Positioning is creating an image or an identity in the minds of the people in your target market. It’s how you are viewed by your market.
When Joshua Bell performs in a sold out auditorium, he is positioned as the star of the show. He’s dressed like the star, and people know that they should expect a star performance. They have an idea what a star performance sounds like. And they likely know much of the music that the star is going to perform. They expect a lot from the star, and they’re usually rooting for the star to come through with a big performance.
When Joshua plays at a concert, he’s got star positioning, and people expect him to be a star.
When he plays in a train station, he definitely doesn’t have star positioning.
That’s the big difference between $100 seats and $32 in tips.
Of course, you need the talent to get the $100 seats… all the positioning in the world won’t get you in front of a sold out Symphony Hall if you don’t have the talent.
But just having talent alone won’t get you there either… there are thousands of incredibly talented people walking around who are completely under-appreciated – and that’s a true waste.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been writing a lot about “expert” positioning. I think for most online businesses, getting expert positioning is one of the most critical things you need to do.
So how do you become viewed as an expert?
And like a lot of things in business, it’s part science and part art.
But the first thing you need to understand (and this is critical) is that expert status is not something that anyone GIVES you.
You don’t sit around and wait for someone to magically declare that you’re an expert in your field. That probably won’t happen… and if it does, then it will take forever.
What you have to do is go out and GET that expert positioning… and the good news is that it’s all very doable and repeatable.
IMPORTANT: Shifting your brain from thinking that someone else is going to GIVE you expert status to realizing that expert status is something that you actually CREATE is the first critical step in your evolution.
I’m telling you this from personal experience… I’ve personally achieved “expert” status in multiple markets with multiple businesses… when I had no “official” background in those fields.
And the benefits of expert or “guru” positioning are huge…
First, you make a lot more money – it’s easier to sell stuff, and it’s easier to charge higher prices.
And you can make a much bigger impact on people and the world (and I know, for a lot of people, this is more important than all the extra money.)
The bottom line is this: if you want greater success in your business… go get that expert positioning. It makes everything a whole lot easier.
(You can read the original Washington Post article about Joshua Bell’s experiment here and thanks to Sonia Simone who brought this story to my attention.)