Winning On “Quality” Is A Losing Battle

Source: Stencil

I recall the day I powered up my first iPhone in 2007. I just upgraded from an antique flip phone. I thought it was magic. The profound difference dazzled me. I would never revert back to the outdated tech.

It happens all the time with new technology. You make the big jump and it hooks you.

I experienced something like this myself with the most mundane of products.

Here’s How It Happened

I readied my phone and audible selection for a long walk. I hit play and walked out the door. Instead of going for a walk, I headed to the garage, got in my car and drove to the nearest shopping center.

What happened?

The headphones died. I don’t know what happened but I needed a new pair. A grocery store was the only place open this early.

I always buy the cheapest headphones. Sound is sound. Why bother with an expensive pair. How much better could they be?

This store has a diverse selection of headphones. Weird for a grocery store. They range from $10 to $60. Just my luck. They’re out of almost their entire inventory. The cheapest remaining pair was $50. Desperate, I bought them.

After that twenty minute diversion, I began my walk. I put my headphones on and pressed play.


The crispness, clarity and quality blew me away. Imagine listening to music on a clock radio with the shower running. Compare that to reproducing the acoustics of Carnegie Hall in your ears. It was that transformative.

Once I adapted to the upgraded sound quality I crossed a threshold. I could never go back to the inferior quality again.

Why Quality Is So Tricky

What happened to me is an example of stepping up the quality ladder. I was happy with the poor sound quality from cheap headphones. I never complained about it. I knew it lacked the quality of a $50 pair. I didn’t care. I didn’t know any better. But once you know better, it’s hard to go back.

You could have thrown every sales trick, every copywriting trick, every ounce of proof at me. I still would not have budged from my cheap headphones.

What brought me over the edge? The experience. Only the experience of the superior quality persuaded me to value the higher quality.

That’s what makes quality so difficult to communicate. It’s why I almost never frame a promotion around quality. You can quantify it. You can prove it. Your audience may even believe you. Without the experience, it lacks the emotional appeal to get the job done. This is why leading with quality is a trap for most marketers.

What if high quality already seduced your targeted audience? Go ahead and demonstrate your superiority. For everyone else, focus creative efforts on connecting with your audience.

Will it solve my problem?

Will I be able to use it?

Is it meant for people like me?

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