Show Your Work

Show Your Work

Think back to high school math class, or a university physics course. Somewhere along the way, on a test or final exam, we’ve all seen this, scrawled in red ink…

Show your work!

For most of us, this was a startling realization. Until we got to this point, we were convinced that school was about getting the answer right. But the requirement of showing your work, shifted the focus to getting the process right.

This underrated concept is actually one of the most important things you ever learned in math class; because we can apply it well beyond numbers.

A philosopher recognizes the journey is more important than the destination. A marathon runner will tell you that the training is more rewarding than the finish line.

As marketers, we need to recognize that there’s more to life than the finished product.

There’s value in the process

When Paul Durham was creating the new Black Lab album “Two Strangers”, he recognized he was facing an uphill battle in rapidly changing industry. To put it bluntly, Paul is trying to sell a product that many potential customers regularly find elsewhere for free.

In a typical record release, an album would be created very privately, and only when it was perfect and final, would it be put up for sale. Paul’s actions were very different – releasing demos and videos of the work in progress, bringing fans along for the ride.

By showing the process, fans not only get a piece of entertainment, and feel like they’re “on the inside”, but they also understand the work that goes into creating the final product. Instead of seeing a CD on a shelf, they are witnesses to the birth of art work.

Listen to the final version (disclosure: Paul is a friend). Now that you’ve seen the artist at work, are you more inclined to buy the album rather than finding it on Limewire?

Say Goodbye

There is value in the process.

Even if you’re the best

When it comes to iPad cases, many will tell you that dodocase is in a league of their own. Quality, style, trendiness, they’ve got it all. However, at $60 per case, this startup has also priced themselves much higher than their established competitors. How then have they managed to sell 10,000 cases in 180 days??

Instead of just saying that they’re the best, and listing their quality craftsmanship as part of a spec sheet – dodocase lets you inside their workshop. They let you see each piece going together. They educate you about what makes them different. They show their work.

There’s more to the story than the finished product

If a question on a math test is worth a maximum of 5 marks, and you simply state the correct answer, chances are, you won’t get 100%. You’ll actually do worse than someone who visibly nails the process, but gets the answer wrong.

Simply telling people that your stuff is the best is akin to copying the answers from the back of the book. Without the story, the proof, the sweat; you don’t demonstrate mastery – you’re just checking the final box and hoping they believe you.

In math, in marketing, in life – full marks and gold stars are given for the creativity, precision and hard work that led you to your obviously excellent product.

Think about the people, products and organizations that you trust and admire as being the best. Do they just tell you that they have all the answers, or in some way, are they winning you over by showing their work?

Photo Credit: Billaday

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