Newton gets all kinds of credit. They call it the Law of Gravity. They put his picture on pages that profile geniuses. They say he discovered gravity. Nonsense. He just named it.
Everyone ‘believes’ in gravity. And yet, we know virtually nothing about it. We don’t know how gravity waves (if there are any) are transmitted. We can’t block them (anti gravity boots!) and we can’t amplify them and we have no idea how fast they travel. There are very few people doing serious gravity research and development, either. But it’s apparently a law.
Evolution (and one’s confidence or lack of belief thereof), on the other hand, is enough to sway a school board election or get you nominated for federal office. I’ve never met an informed person who doubted the general facts about evolution unless they had an alternative view of the origin of species that they felt emotionally connected to. There are evolution skeptics who would prefer a different story, but no gravity skeptics, even though there’s a lot less science there.
What’s up with that?
There are two reasons that gravity has had so much better marketing than evolution, and both may impact the way you market your product or service as well.
1. If the story of your marketing requires the prospect to abandon a previously believed story, you have a lot of work to do.
Nobody had a seriously described theory of gravity before Newton named it. No one walks around saying that they have a story about why we stick to the earth better than the gravity story. As a result, there was no existing story or worldview to overthrow. Naming something that people already believe in is very smart marketing.
2. If the timeframe of the message of your marketing is longer than the attention span (or lifetime) of the person you are marketing to, you have your work cut out for you as well.
Evolution is really slow. Hard to demonstrate it in real time during a school board meeting. Gravity is instantaneous.
Acupuncture is an interesting case. It’s possible to market acupuncture as, “Western medicine is wrong, this works.” The problem, of course, is that any time you market a product with, “You were wrong,” you have a lot of work to do. It can also be marketed as “This is a great way to supplement your ordinary medical treatments.”
Tactic 1: Try to tell a story that complements an existing story rather than calling it out as false.
Tactic 2: Try to make the ‘proof’ as vivid and immediate as possible. Like an apple falling on your head.
Big ideas often demand a marketing strategy that is a lot more difficult than marketing gravity. Sometimes results do take a long time. Sometimes the consumer has been wrong all along. Sometimes you do need to replace an existing story. I hope you will. But this takes time and patience and resources.
When in doubt, market gravity.
Written by Seth Godin
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