Violin in the Subway Proves Marketing Matters

Ian Lurie

Seth Godin wrote about Joshua Bell. Bell is one of the most talented living violinists. He played in a Washington, DC subway to see if anyone would notice.

Almost no one noticed.

This doesn’t prove that people are uncultured.

It proves that marketing matters. I’ve rarely seen products or companies fail because they sucked. They fail because their marketing sucked.

People hurrying to their commute are worried about shopping lists, picking up their kids, making their house payment, and maybe global warming. They don’t have the mental bandwidth to notice an Avery Fisher prize winner playing violin 5 feet away. They also don’t have the bandwidth to notice that your product will improve their lives. You have to tell them: That’s what marketing is for.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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