I spent time thinking about why we value these two items differently. Take the specific example of the once trending ‘pet rock’ and the seemingly always trending diamond, in this case, the non-industrial kind.
They are both just rocks with no actual function other than what we give them. Likewise, they have no real monetary value.
The difference in a word, marketing.
Gary Dahl, an advertising executive, was sitting in a bar (where else), listening to his friends complain about their pets. Tada – the perfect pet idea. I could even train it to stay or play dead. These rocks had an entertaining instruction manual, a bed of straw, and a cardboard rock-house. He sold them for $4 each. They trended for about 6 months, and a new millionaire was created. The reality is almost anybody could have done this.
Diamonds, on the other hand, have a different story to tell. Concentration in a few hands captures this difference. Almost 92% of diamonds are cut and polished in India. Nearly 80% of all diamonds are traded through the Antwerp Diamond Exchange.
The De Beers company name has been associated with diamonds since 1888. For most of the 20th century, they handled about 80% of the world’s rough-cut diamonds. Now it has fallen to about 13%.
In the early 2000s, retail sales were about US$57 billion.
This critical comparison got me thinking about how better marketing myself could help me do good things better. I market myself all the time, usually unconsciously. For example, I wanted my wife to like the idea of seeing a particular movie with me that I thought she wouldn’t be interested in. I waited for her to be between focused tasks and would have a few minutes to hear my pitch. (Step one: Selection of the best time to make my pitch.) I sat down beside her and looked her in the eye. (Step 2: Selection of the best approach or medium to make my pitch.) Then came step three. I selected a direct approach with the ‘ask.’ “Would you like to watch this movie with me?” No need to beat around the bush on this suggestion. She said, equally as direct, “Sure, I was going to ask you if we could watch it together.” Ah, love.
From start to finish, about 10 seconds. And a successful sale.
Trivial, I know. But please give this a bit of a think. As older adults, we can role model the value of presenting the best of ourselves to the next generation. Reflect on an action you’d like to have with a friend. It could be a long-overdue apology you want to make, for example. But the time lapsed is too long, and it would just feel weird. Consider 3 things that you could do to improve your chances of success. Incorporate those ideas and then do it. Be the best marketer you can be.
Remember, marketing created the longest-lasting slogan for a potentially useless product.
Diamonds are Forever – but so are the impacts of your good deeds.
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