I was fortunate enough to see Steve Blank speak at a recent Startup2Startup dinner.  And let me tell you…the guy is smart.  But I had no idea that he could temporarily suspend the laws of gravity.  From steveblank.com:

Speed movie download Part of marketing is the ability to communicate a message to thousands of people and convince them to believe your version of reality. When I was 19 I accidentally had a test run of my ability to do so. I created havoc at an air force base by convincing thousands of airman that gravity would be turned off so that the Air Force could make repairs under their buildings.



Now if you haven’t already, go read Steve’s story

.  I’ll wait for you….

Back?  Good.  There are two key lessons for marketing your startup here:  Context and Authority.


Beverly Hills Ninja the movie Where are your customers receiving your message?  Is it where they expect to find it?  The orders for the suspension of gravity were posted on the notice board where the airmen were accustomed to receiving notices of base activity.  The message was coming from the right channel, so it made sense.  For your startup, it’s imperative that your customers receive your message in a place that makes sense.  This is one of the reasons that I’m not a huge fan of paid advertising.  It’s also the reason that Google has been so wildly successful.  You see ads when you’re looking for something.  They have context.  Ensure that your marketing channels have the appropriate context for your audience and your message.


Steve posted the orders on the base letterhead and from the base commander.  The base commander was trusted and obeyed.  Even though there was no way that the message could possibly be true, if it was coming from the base commander, the airmen had to at least allow for the possibility, didn’t they?  How could they not?  What if they were wrong?  This is one of the reasons that social media has become such a buzz word.  When you get messages from people you trust (your friends) those messages carry more authority than those received from strangers, or channels.  Which has more authority?  Emily’s best friend telling her “Hey, Emily, you should try the barbeque chicken burrito at Aqui.  It’s awesome.”  Or a sign on a bus stop that says, “Try the barbeque chicken burrito from Aqui.  It’s awesome.”  You need to provide the tools for the authorities to share your message for you.

Lesson learned: Make sure your marketing messages are received in the right context and from the right authority, and you may be able to temporarily suspend gravity.