[LINK] Why Your Customers Would Be Happier If You Charged More

by lincolnquirk1 min read21st Sep 20124 comments


Personal Blog


Surprising material to discover on Less Wrong, I know, but has some core insights about effectiveness and entrepreneurship and freelancing which I think people here will appreciate.



So you have to understand that if you make an amazing product and you’ve tested it and you know it will help, it is your obligation to get it out to the market as aggressively as possible.

[Patrick notes: I think this is important enough to emphasize, twice. If you got into this business to make peoples’ lives better, and you have produced something which will succeed with that, and you are aware of truth about reality such as “better marketed products beat better engineered products every single bloody time”, then you have an obligation to get better at marketing yourself. To do otherwise is to compromise the value of your offering to the world based on selfish desires such as appeasing your own vanity (“Everyone should realize how great my work is without me needing to tell them”) or indulging your own unspoken fears (“If this were really good, it would sell itself, so if I try selling it, it must not be good.”)]

I was inventing excuses – in real time! – as to why I couldn’t have possibly delivered the value he already reported having gotten from the conversation we just had.


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Aggressive marketing is sort of defecting in a prisoner's dilemma; a society where marketing was limited to making all relevant information about products publicly accessible would save a lot of resources invested by the producers into marketing and by the customers trying to tell apart truth and falsity contained in the ads.

It is true that if you want to spread your product as far as possible, aggressive marketing may be indispensable. But to present this fact in a moralising manner as in the quoted text - an obligation whose rejection only indicates vanity and selfish desires - seems inappropriate.

If we were starting from zero marketing, then some amount of marketing - say, a Sears catalog so I can tell what goods are actually being sold - is indisputably positive sum. It matches consumers with what they want to buy. But certainly there reaches a point where the competition becomes zero/negative-sum and you get the tragedy-of-the-commons you describe.

Much the same can be said of status competition - there's beneficial social skills "How to mediate a dispute" "how to accurately convey emotional information," "how to make small talk," but you continue to get selfish benefits after you pass well into zero/negative sum territory.

Surprising material to discover on Less Wrong, I know

Not very.

There's quite a bit of LessWrong/Hacker News cross-polinization, anyway.