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May 7, 2012 by Speakers' Spotlight

Aspirin or Vitamins?

Guest blog from Josh Linkner

Josh Linkner is the New York Times Bestselling author of Disciplined Dreaming – A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity, named a top 10 business book of 2011. He is CEO and Managing Partner of Detroit Venture Partners. Together with Magic Johnson and NBA team owner Dan Gilbert, he is actively rebuilding urban areas through technology and entrepreneurship. Josh is also the Founder and Chairman of ePrize, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world. Prior to ePrize, he was the founder and CEO of three other successful technology companies. Among writing for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today and The New York Times, Josh is a regular columnist for Fast Company, Inc. Magazine and Forbes.

If you have a burning headache, you’ll do whatever it takes to subdue it.  If it’s 3:00 am on a cold, snowy night and you are out of pain killers, you’ll bundle up, drive to a 24-hour pharmacy, and desperately pay nearly any cost to alleviate your pain.

Vitamins are a different story.  They are a nice-to-have, not a gotta-have-right-now.  You certainly won’t race out in the middle of the night for them.  You’ll think twice about the cost, get to them when convenient, and likely forget them altogether on a semi-regular basis.

As a marketer, entrepreneur, or business leader, ask yourself… are you selling aspirin or vitamins?

It turns out that selling vitamins is roughly ten times more difficult since you are marketing an “optional” product.  Vitamin purchases lack urgency, are frequently price-sensitive, and offer the customer the viable alternative to doing absolutely nothing.

It’s obvious that fixing a broken furnace, diabetes meds, and basic food are in the “aspirin” category.  It’s also obvious that glamor magazines, luxury vacations, and diamond bracelets are “vitamins.”  But it’s likely the product you or your company sells is somewhere in the middle.

The difference is often how the product is positioned and marketed.  Savvy brands fork over millions to their agencies to advertise their latest gear as “must haves.”  You can skip the agencies by tapping into your own creativity and making sure you are standing out from the pack with a truly compelling offering.

As a venture capitalist, one of the first questions I ask myself when evaluating a startup for possible investment: Are they selling aspirin or vitamins?  Businesses that service burning demand and visceral human needs tend to accelerate faster and require far less marketing push than those that offer stuff customers can easily live without.

Whether you’re launching a new product line, starting a business, or expanding into a new geographic territory, give a deep look in the mirror to figure out which you are selling.  If it turns out you’re selling vitamins, it may be time to go back to the drawing board to sell something different or at a minimum to position your product/service/solution with more urgency.

The more you can solve a real consumer pain, the more success you’ll enjoy.  Just what the doctor ordered.


Speakers' Spotlight represents a wide variety of motivational speakers who present energetic talks that will inspire you and your staff to take action, be it in your personal lives, your workplace, or both. Read More

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Speakers' Spotlight is committed to meeting the different needs of the corporations, organizations, companies, non-profit and government groups that contact us when seeking keynote speakers, and we work hard to find the keynote speakers that will provide the best match for your event. Whatever you require are when it comes to keynote speakers, Speakers' Spotlight will work had to ensure that you get the keynote speakers that are right for you.

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Motivational speakers that work with Speakers' Spotlight frequently go the extra mile to be in touch with meeting planners - or even CEOs and presidents of companies and organizations themselves - in advance of their talks in order to tailor the message and hit on key points specific to the client's needs. Our motivational speakers arrive on time, work with the client in advance to ensure the proper set up of their audio/visual needs so that everything will go smoothly when they hit the stage, and often include Q&A sessions in their talks so that your staff can ask any questions of our motivational speakers that they may wish.

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