If you’ve got fifteen minutes to spare, we highly recommend watching this video by Rory Sutherland. His “Life Lessons from an Ad Man” are essential for anyone in entrepreneurship, and happen to be hysterical. By the end of the week, that’s how I prefer my wisdom – seasoned with humor and salty British wit.
Rory is funny, insightful and absolutely right. He discusses that what we perceive as valuable may not be intrinsically so – we’ve just been conditioned to believe it is. This is something that applies to how we market what we sell. If we can change how consumers interpret the value of a product, we can change purchase decisions. And if we are able to do that, we can create higher demand for our products. My favorite example he used to demonstrate this, is the potato.
For the cliff notes version, Rory Sutherland took us through a brief anecdote about Frederick the Great of Prussia. He had wanted the Germans to adopt the potato as an additional crop, but they refused, claiming that their dogs wouldn’t even eat them. In a stroke of brilliance, Frederick declared the potato as a “royal vegetable.” He instructed guards to stand watch on the royal potato patch – but not too closely. Peasants ransacked the crop to steal potatoes, and soon enough they were growing the vegetables in secret. What Frederick the Great had effectively done was rebrand the potato. Before, the Germans claimed it was too ugly to eat. Now they were orchestrating underground crops to harvest.
It’s genius. And it brings up an interesting idea – that all value “is perceived value.” Essentially, you can rebrand and create demand for your product, your company, and yourself. It doesn’t have to be revolutionary. You just have to help people think it is.