One of the biggest concerns we have as entrepreneurs, authors, artists, musicians etc. is “who will care about what we have to offer?”. Who's going to buy (or read) our books, or who is going to shop at our online store?
And then, there are established entrepreneurs, like German fashion designer Jil Sander… who test the limits of this common insecurity. I have to imagine that she has the same fears as any creative person.
But her success and popularity (in an industry known for eccentricity) gives her the ability to make bold moves such as this; a paper bag for $290.
Yes, you heard that right. A paper bag for $290! It's not just a paper bag of course. There are a few defining features that set it apart from it's grocery store brothers and sisters... but more on those finer details in a moment.
What Can We Learn From A $290 Paper Bag?
There are couple (entrepreneurial) lessons to be learned here. The first, is to NOT assume we know what other people want.
Most people would never spend hundreds of dollars on a paper bag. But there are some who do. Of course, this is a unique situation in an industry known for stand-outs, but we can still learn that we should not project our own habits and desires into the market place.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t create something you would buy yourself, but you also shouldn’t limit yourself either.
Before I had ever bought anything online, I didn't think other people were really spending money online either (despite all the evidence otherwise). Therefore, I didn't think it was possible to start an online business.
I just couldn’t get past that self-limiting belief. If I wasn’t spending money online, and everyone I knew wasn’t spending money online (I assumed), then who would spend money on an online business I had built?
Why had I already made up my mind that people were not spending money on the web? All I had to do was look at the success of Amazon, or the Apple app store to realize that, yes... they were. But we believe what we want to believe.
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Challenge Your Beliefs. Look at The Evidence.
Of course, established entrepreneurs and people who can afford (financially) to take chances can pull stunts like this.
But the principles are the same. Don’t limit yourself, or your business, by making assumptions based on the choices you would or would not make. Challenge your beliefs!
Do your research. Poll your customers, or read through forums and social media comments to find out what people really want. Or, just as importantly; what they don’t want. Listen to what they are doing and talking about.
Was this $290 paper bag just a publicity stunt? Maybe. Probably. And it was brilliant.
So, the second lesson here is to think outside the box (or the bag 😀 ) when marketing yourself.
Jil Sander may have the name, and the brand, to back up this kind of PR tactic, but that doesn’t mean we can't get creative when searching for ways to get attention.
Depending on the industry, niche, type of business you’re in and publicity you're trying to get... this could include taking on controversial topics, using humor, or coming up with something that stretches conventional thinking. Remember the guy who traded a red paperclip for a house.
The Paper Bag
So, what about this $290 paper bag makes is so special? Well, it has the name Jil Sander on it for one, and if that doesn’t make it worth a few hundred dollars, maybe the stitched seams and double eyelets do.
Okay… it’s not for most people, but it might be for someone. And, even if Jil Sander never sold a single bag… she earned her significant publicity from it.
While some might think it’s ridiculous, my personal thoughts are, it’s a clever idea, and an inspiration to get creative.
What are your thoughts on Jil Sander's paper bag? Was it a dumb idea, or smart marketing? Leave a comment below, I'd love to hear your think.
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