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  • Writer's pictureRobert Stevenson

It Better Be Packaged Right


Robert Stevenson Blog - Packaging is critical

Joshua Bell is a world-renowned American violinist who made his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 17. He has performed with the world’s premiere orchestras and conductors and is also a Grammy winner. He fills the greatest concert halls in the world where the average seat will cost $100, and front row seats cost in the thousands.


The Washington Post newspaper set up an impromptu concert with Mr. Bell, as an experiment on perception and priorities. Would people in a hurry recognize the brilliance of this musician, even though he was dressed in jeans, long-sleeve T-shirt, and a baseball cap? Would the beauty of his music transcend the moment and cause them to pause and enjoy this incredible talent in the busy Metro train station in Washington, D.C.? Would priorities take precedence over listening to an international virtuoso who had recently won the Avery Fisher Award as the best classical musician in America?


Joshua Bell Concert

The only thing that was exceptional to “see” for those who passed by Mr. Bell that day, was the $3.5 million Stradivarius violin he was playing (made in 1713). But, to those who saw him playing, it just looked like a regular old violin. “THE PACKAGE” (perception) didn’t draw people’s attention … even though the talent was exceptional. There was no advertising, no fanfare, no hype, no fancy clothes, no amazing concert hall or fabulous stage; just some guy in a baseball cap, standing up against a wall with his violin case open to receive donations.


Could a man who is paid $1,000 per minute to perform … who was playing the music of Bach, Brahms, Ponce and Massenet get their attention? Not really. The 3-minute video link below, will show you that 1097 people passed by. 27 people put money in his violin case as they walked by, and of those 27, only 7 of them paused for a moment to listen. Mr. Bell made $32.17 in 43 minutes of playing. There was NO applause or acknowledgement for his skill … a skill that three days prior to this experiment, filled Boston’s Symphony Hall; standing room only.


Here is the link to Mr. Bell playing at the Metro Station.Link to Mr. Bell playing at the Metro Station


The point I am trying to make is that packaging is critical. When you are making a presentation to your client, boss, or peers … never forget that. You may have all the data and skills to make the presentation, but if you want to standout, pay attention to how it is packaged. Perception (the package) isn’t everything, but it SURE HELPS. As the experiment with Mr. Bell proves, it takes a lot more than just talent to get their attention.


Author Terry Goodkind once said, “Reality is irrelevant; perception is everything.” If a person doesn’t perceive the value, then to them, it’s not valuable. Good packaging elevates PERCEPTION OF VALUE.

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