Creative Strategies w/ Matt Shadetek: Quality as Marketing

In this creative strategies article, Logic expert and Dutty Artz label owner Matt Shadetek explains that the quality of a product can make up for the lack of a marketing budget.

quality as marketing

Quality as Marketing

If you’ve ever tried to market anything you have probably learned that marketing an undesirable, low quality product is very difficult. Many people who don’t understand marketing think bitterly “If I only had a huge marketing budget like so-and-so then my thing would be a hit too!” This is wrong. It’s easy to understand why this is wrong if we look at the fact that good things with bad marketing can still become hits, whereas bad things with good marketing almost never do.

“But wait!” many will exclaim “What about crappy pop song ‘XYZ’ or stupid movie ‘123’!?!” The belief when looking at these cases is that crappy pop song XYZ is bad because we don’t like it and is therefore only successful because of it’s huge marketing budget. This is a mistake. My criteria for evaluating whether a piece of work is “good” or “bad” is if it succeeds in its own goals.

If stupid movie 123 delivers the required ten explosions per minute, backwards car chase and zillion dollars worth of visual effects then it did what it set out to do and is therefore a good (albeit stupid) movie. It does what it set out to do. Just because you don’t happen to think ten explosions per minute make a good movie does not mean that stupid movie 123 is a failure. The point here is that before we embark on a discussion about quality we need to set a standard for what quality is. In my book, a high quality work achieves the goals that it sets for itself.

If on the other hand people who like stupid movies go to the theater and feel cheated, no amount of  marketing is going to cause that movie to be a hit. Fans of stupid movies will tell their friends who also like stupid movies not to go, that the movie is bad. Reviewers will do the same. The marketing department at 123 productions can spend twice the budget of the movie on marketing but after the opening weekend, no one is going to go.

In our modern age of connection, word of mouth spreads faster than ever. The first person to see the movie in their social circle gets out of the theater and posts to their social networking site of choice that the movie is bad. Their friends who are driving to the theater see this on their smartphone and decide to see something else right away. The movie might not even make it through it’s opening weekend unscathed. The point here is that quality matters more than ever.

One way to think of the way something spreads in the market is in terms of momentum. Think of a snowball of fans rolling down a hill. A high quality product can quickly build up into a hit with just a little push at the start. Once it starts rolling more and more fans stick to it, it gets bigger and moves faster. It grows exponentially. The quality of your product determines how sticky your snowball is. If you have a low quality product the faster it rolls, the more people come into contact with it and learn it is undesirable, the more fans fly off of it. It gets smaller, and moves slower, until it peters out.

Using this metaphor we may even draw the conclusion that pushing a lot of marketing effort into a bad product will just make it fail more quickly. The more people see a bad product the more negative word of mouth will spread and the faster people will learn to avoid it.

How does this help us then, the little guys trying to make something? In the first place, it’s good news. The good news is that doing something good matters. While the odds may not be perfectly fair, the deck is not impossibly stacked against us. If we make something good (meaning successful in its own goals) and we get that in front of the people who like that sort of thing, there’s a pretty good chance that it will gain an audience. I think the people who believe that only things with big marketing budgets can succeed are just scared. Or worse they’re making excuses for why it’s OK not to try that hard.

We can use this idea when making decisions about where to place our time, energy and resources. If we have to choose between marketing or making the product better, we should invest in the product knowing that that will make the marketing easier. This is not to say that we shouldn’t invest in marketing the product, but we should strike the correct balance. Rushing out a low quality product for marketing reasons becomes easily recognizable as a bad idea. Spending more money on marketing than on making the product good is also an easy mistake to avoid.

By recognizing how important the quality of the product is and how much that supports our marketing goals we can simplify some of the decision making process that we need to make. We can also relax a little bit and instead of getting stressed out focus on making the best thing we can.


 About Matt Shadetek

Matt Shadetek is one of New York City’s most exciting producers. His live sets encompass contemporary Dancehall, UK Funky, and Dubstep, all delivered with Shadetek’s unique production voice which bridges the underground-mainstream divide. He’s one of the rare DJs who can rock a crowd with sets composed solely of his own dancefloor bangers and remixes.

Matt’s early love for Hip Hop and Dancehall along with edgy electronic sounds led to his Warp Records debut album Burnerism as part of the duo Team Shadetek. While Matt was living in Berlin and touring Europe, the followup LP Pale Fire was released, featuring the underground hit “Brooklyn Anthem”. The hit song kick-started a dance craze in the Brooklyn reggae scene (leading to over 100 fan videos of kids dancing to it).

Returning to NYC, Matt founded the Dutty Artz label/production crew with DJ /Rupture. Shadetek produced Jahdan Blakkamoore’s debut album, Buzzrock Warrior (!K7), pioneering its signature Reggae-Dubstep-Rap sound. In 2009 he also teamed up with Rupture to release the mix album Solar Life Raft (The Agriculture). His latest release, on Dutty Artz, is Flowers, an effervescent solo instrumental effort that references dubstep, UK Funky and Garage. He has toured internationally both solo and accompanied by Jahdan as vocalist.

Connect with Matt on Twitter | SoundCloud | Website


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