Joshua BellMeet Joshua Bell. He’s HUGE in the classical music world.

A few years ago, he posed as a street musician in in Washington DC, and nobody paid him any attention.

Normally, if you want to see this guy play, you have to shell out a minimum of $100 (that’s for the cheap seats).  But on this particular day, he played for hours and only earned $32.

Wha??!  Yes, it’s true.

Watch the video:

Most people didn’t even stop.  Only a few small children recognized that something really good was happening and slowed down their parents for a few moments.

He played his Stradivarius for cryin out loud!  And people were just too busy to see (hear) the beauty right in front of them. (Side note: don’t let this happen to YOU.)

They didn’t recognize Joshua Bell as THE ONE because he was in the wrong context for them. And probably the wrong time, too.

Members of his target audience (classical music lovers) were most likely among the many that walked right past him.

Theories abound to why. Perhaps they didn’t stop because they were on autopilot.

Their heads were wrapped around the task of getting to work. And that’s all they could see, hear or think about. (The wrong time.)

Or, psychologists would argue, that this craziness was due to something called “value attribution.”

And because he was out of context, his true value went unnoticed.

What can we learn from the Joshua Bell experiment?

We already know that as we plan how to market our products and services, we first need to consider our audience (AKA our Target Market).

Note: Your audience is the group of people that is most hungry for what you’re offering. Your success depends on your ability to find out where they are and how to talk to them. They see you, recognize you are the one they’ve been searching for, and…the rest is history. (Okay, it’s not that easy, but I couldn’t resist.)

One of the pieces of this puzzle — their recognition of you as THE ONE — is much more likely to happen if you appear in the right context, at the right time.

As marketers, we know it’s already hard enough to get the attention of potential customers. The Rule of Seven, says your message needs to be seen and/or heard a minimum of seven times before a prospect even begins to register that you might have something they want.

So remember this when you are trying to break through the gazillions of messages that are constantly bombarding all of us day in and day out. You’ve really got to position yourself and your message in the right context, at the right time.

To do this, it’s best if you can diversify the channels you’re using to get those messages out. Never put all your eggs in one marketing basket. Choose your best 3 to 5 places (contexts or channels) where your target audience is likely to hangout and be receptive to your message.

And then work on building a solid relationship with your prospects. They need to know, like and trust you in order to even consider you as their vendor of choice.

Awareness is just half the battle. If people believe you’re “famous,” they’ll pay attention.  But only if you’re being famous in the right place at the right time.