Voor een verhaal is men bereid (veel) te betalen.

De introductie van de Fender Precision Bass in 1952 als eerste in serie geproduceerde elektrische basgitaar mag gerust een succesvolle innovatieve doorbraak genoemd worden. Leo Fender ontwikkelde de Precision Bass ”to free the bassplayer from his doghouse” zoals hijzelf de contrabas pleegde te noemen. Weg met intonatieproblemen (vandaar de naam ‘Precision’), beperkt geluidsvolume en gedaan met het ‘gesleur’.

De daaropvolgende decennia werd het concept van de elektrische bas door verschillende grotere en kleinere instrumentenbouwers verder verbeterd. Sommige wijzigingen waren eerder evolutionair van aard (materiaalkeuze, constructie, vorm, …), andere meer revolutionair (toevoegen van actieve elektronica, 5 & 6 strings (“or any number you like for that matter”). Tegelijkertijd zochten sommige vooruitstrevende bassisten naar nieuwe speelwijzen (2 tot 5 rechterhandvingers, slapping, tapping, …).

De meeste bassisten volgden gretig de evoluties en lieten zich vaak verleiden om het allernieuwste te bespelen. Tot de jaren 2000 zagen de meeste bassen op de podia er dan ook ‘nieuw’ uit. De uitzonderingen lieten zich verklaren. Tegen gitarist Rory Gallagher’s agressieve zweet bleek bijvoorbeeld geen enkele gitaarlakverf bestand; zijn zweet was dermate zuur dat het als een soort ‘verfafbijt’ fungeerde. Om dezelfde reden speelt bassist Etienne Mbappé met zwarte zijden handschoenen.

Maar het laatste decennia zien we op de podia en in de studio’s een omgekeerde trend: hoe ouder en afgeleefder de bas eruit ziet, des te beter.

Vanwaar die kentering?

Uiteraard kent de oude basklank een revival. De vintage-trend is nu zeker ook aanwezig in de elektrische instrumentenwereld (wat al lang het geval was voor klassiekere instrumenten).

Maar naast het auditieve element is vaak het visuele aspect minstens even belangrijk. Een afgeleefd instrument heeft een verhaal te vertellen. Het is veel en intensief bespeeld geweest, heeft veel podia doorstaan en heeft misschien veel ‘lovers’ gehad (lees ‘bespelers’). M.a.w. zo’n aftandse bas is lekker rock’n roll, ongeacht welke muziekstijl je speelt en het verhoogt op zijn minst one’s credibility .

Door de grote vraag naar oude instrumenten swingen de tweehandprijzen voor de oudere, goede bassen de pan uit. Fabrikanten spelen hier op in door op nieuwe bassen ‘forced aging’ in verschillende gradaties toe te passen. Tot en met verroeste hardware als je dat wenst. Het zal je niet verwonderen dat de prijs van een ‘forced aged’ instrument meestal een pak hoger is dan die van het oorspronkelijke instrument.

Bij gitaren gaat men nog een stap verder. Men maakt ‘replicas’ tot in de kleinste details van gitaren van bekende gitaristen. Elke kras, schade, verfslijtage, stikkers en andere customisaties. Twee voorbeelden die me zijn bijgebleven: Joe Strummer’s Telecaster en Andy Summer’s Telecatster. Je bent de trotse eigenaar voor een prijs tussen $10.000 …$15,000 (elk afzonderlijk) of zo een factor 10 tot 20 maal (inderdaad factor 20) van de prijs van een goede doorsnee Telecaster.

Uiteraard kruipt er heel wat gespecialiseerde handenarbeid in die instrumenten, maar op het einde van de rit betaalt men toch maar voor het verhaal, een verhaal dat het instrument zelf niet eens heeft meegemaakt. Het blijft een replica, nietwaar?

How’s that for paying for a story?

Lees in die context ook nog even: Tiger Woods and bass heroes; or what do sports and music equipment have in common?

Tiger Woods and bass heroes; or what do sports and music equipment have in common?

Not that I’m a golfer (I’m a bass player ;-))  but I read with interest the article “You’ll Golf Better If You Think Tiger Has Used Your Clubs” in the Harvard Business Review edition of July-August 2012.  To be more precisely; as part of the Idea Watch series it’s an interview with the research scientist Sally Linkenauger of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany. The research finding states that people who believed that a professional golfer had used their club putted more accurately than other people who played the same club. The belief of playing with a professional’s club gave them confidence and increased their self-efficacy. They thought they would perform better, so they did.

Not astonishing to me.

However; I was astonished by the explanation the researcher gave: it is caused by positive contagion, a concept from social psychology referring to the belief that when someone touches an object, they left behind the essence of themselves on it. Of course superstition can have an influence on one’s performance (the famous example of “always wearing the same socks playing soccer”); but in this golf club experiment I don’t believe it’s a case of superstition or positive contagion.

In most sports as well as in music making your performance is influenced in lesser or greater extent by the equipment you use. A runner’s performance is negatively influenced by bad shoes; a swimmer’s time is positively influenced (however small) by high-tech sports textile. I myself have difficulties playing a fast turnaround on a double bass with a high string action, everything seems to fit perfectly well when my e-bass sounds great on stage, slapping on dead strings sounds like hell and doesn’t work, and so on. This to say that the quality of the equipment (or its suitability to the circumstances) always has an influence on the performance, how small it sometimes may be.

To make my point: if I a play the same instrument like one of my bass heroes, I’m convinced that at least the equipment will not hinder me in my performance. If it’s good for one of my bass heroes, it will also be good for me. I know this is subjective and often the bass heroes’ instrument comes from the custom shop and not from the factory, but it’s at least a usable reference. The same is true for the golf club. If Tiger played with it, than it will be a good club not hindering me in my performance. So it’s the (subjective) belief that you are using good equipment and not a case of positive contagion.

For others, the feeling of belonging to the ‘happy few’ can also play a role.

That’s why endorsement of individual athletes and musicians is such a powerful marketing tool, although it extends even further to other aspects like style and image building; community enabling, etc.

And it fits prodigiously well in the new trend of the professionalization of man’s hobbies. A cycling tourist does not only buy a (semi-)professional bike, most of the time also his cycling gear (clothing), his sports watch, etc. are high tech.

The ROI of Social Media is Your Business Will Still Exist in 5 years

In “Consumerization of the B2B world” I wrote on the significant impact of social media on business.  Shortly after I encountered a McKinsey Quarterly article “The consumer decision journey – Consumers are moving outside the purchasing funnel (*)”, an article which shoots holes in the outdated sales funnel. And whilst the article focuses primarily on B2C buyer behavior, some observers are now using this article to state that many of the principles are equally relevant to the process of B2B buying; which I believe is true.

This has impact in all dimensions of the organization. From a marketing point of view I would translate this into the following steps:

  1. Create awareness
  2. Build a value proposition (create a targeted perception) with content marketing
  3. Create an ongoing conversation (or should we say relation) with you customer
  4. Do pro-active reputation management

B2B buyers will rely more and more on a company’s on-line presence to make judgments as to whether they will do business with the company or not. It is this presence which helps to overcome typical vendor skepticism, convey credibility and gain trust. And although the personal relationship with the business partner remains of utmost importance, the impact of the virtual presence may not be underestimated.

This brings me to  “The ROI of Social Media is Your Business Will Still Exist in 5 years”, which is a quote from a nice 2.5 minute video of Socialnomics. Even if you consider this as strong language, the video illustrates nicely the impact of online presence.

Perhaps you don’t like the new media, but you cannot ignore it! It’s happening out there …

Please don’t forget to enjoy the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SuNx0UrnEo&feature=player_embedded

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(*) : The consumer decision journey – Consumers are moving outside the purchasing funnel—changing the way they research and buy your products. If your marketing hasn’t changed in response, it should. -JUNE 2009 ; David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik

Consumerization of the B2B World

B2B may be different from B2C but not that much; after all business people are people too (isn’t it? 😉

As you may have noticed a social transformation is taking place in how people interact and form relationships via social media. This is also changing the way we work and how companies engage with customers (B2C) and with other companies (B2B). And don’t forget, how employees engage with companies (E2C).

In the past,

  • There was a clear split between work and private.
  • There were real & virtual walls around the organization.
  • There was customer relationship MANAGEMENT
  • The IT-department ruled.

At this moment,

  • The border between work and private is blurring.
  • Social media is entering the work space.
  • Employees bring their own device (BYOD) and look for the applications they need (and like), despite the thwarting of the IT-department.
  • B2C marketing methods are used for B2B.
  • Customers are leveraging the “consumerization’ of technology to find new ways to interact and obtain information

Next,

  • Yes, what’s next?

We can expect that these changes will see through with for instance

  • More volatile B2B customer relationships, from management to stewardship.
  • Branding becoming even more important in B2B
  • The increasing power of networks, communities, etc.
  • Similar segmentation of the decision takers (and influencers, …) as made for consumers and employees (generation Y, …)
  • Less possibilities for direct control, increasing weight of engagement and trust
  • More openness and more collaboration between companies
  • Instant actions/ reaction expectations
  • Security and privacy issues also on the blurred work/private borderline
  • Social media as a communication magnifier (of both positive and negative messages).

The implications for business are significant. The shift to social media is more than an adoption of new operational models or technologies; it is a philosophical, cultural shift and changing how we will interact with the customer, being the consumer or a business customer.

We are only seeing the beginning …