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Mark Allen
Director , Screenwriter , Composer
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What You Can Learn from a Pet Rock

While many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs were focusing their efforts on technology in the Silicon Valley 1970's, there was one man who had a different idea.

He thought pets were too much trouble and then died, so he thought he would offer people "Pet Rocks."

These rocks came with a 32 page user manual (which apparently had the initial printing tagged onto another client's order so they were not too expensive) and were carefully packaged in straw in a custom pet-like container.

For six months in 1975, these were all the rage and Gary became a millionaire.


What You Can Learn from a Rock****

I've watched people get stupid movies made and sell them.  People get stupid music out there and sell it.

What Gary did was find some unique notion that he could identify with and then share it.  His notion was sort of an anti-pet stance something that you can't really talk about without causing trouble.  There was an audience.   What was key was simply that he made the item and packaged it and sold it.

I feel like most of the artists I know (including myself) have a hard time at the point of "Just make the rock."  Once you have your rock, you can sell your rock.  Until then, people don't know how to help you.  There are a lot more ways to sell rocks today than Gary had.

Sometimes people get stuck at the completion of the rock phase.  Sometimes people get stuck after completion with no energy left to market their rock.  If the rock doesn't have a 32 page booklet and a cool professionally labeled container - it's just a rock!   People won't get why it appeals to them.  They won't get your point of view. 

And, it's true, sometimes an idea, a movie, an album, is just not going to find an audience - just not the right time or it's just not good enough to resonate with an audience.  I remember fumbling through my mothers box of odds and ends and finding the "Up Indicator."  This was also created in silicon valley in the 70's.  It was a somewhat polished device which simply had a metal plate mounted on a small wood square dowel which was hinged do another piece of wood and the metal plate had an arrow pointing "up."   Of course, if you knocked it's on it's side, it wouldn't do anything but point sideways.  But the real problem was that there wasn't any resonance for people.  We're people really feeling like they were not sure which way was up?   Not really.  Not like the number of people who were feeling like pets were more trouble than they were worth (or, even more likely - friends who loved pets and were wanting to jibe their friends who did not.)   So resonating does matter.... not all "rocks" are created equal.   If you're not resonating, you move on to the next project...

...But remember that it is most imporantant to actually have a rock, because with no rock, there is nothing to offer anyone...   and once you do have your rock, you must leave some energy to make a nice package so people recognize how special your rock is.    Unless you can provide them with a perspective on what makes your rock unique and why it would resonate with them, it's just a rock.

about 12 years ago 0 likes  5 comments  0 shares
Photo 22998
Joanne - this is exactly the story of the Mustang vs. the Edsel. Mustang was the car for very few people. Targetted for a very very specific audience. The Edsel was the car for everyone. Same year. One car became the best selling, one the worst. You can guess which was which.
about 12 years ago

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english
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Los Angeles, United States
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April 13, 2007