November 9, 2019

How much is a broken guitar worth?

Sent by Jonathan Stark on November 10th, 2019

How do you turn a $12,000 guitar into a $168,000 guitar? 

Smash it.


The following story was shared in TPS the other day (thanks SL!):

Talk about ways to add value... Pete Townsend of The Who was just interviewed on BBC Radio 2. He told the story of being on the David Letterman Show. They bought him a $12,000 guitar specifically to smash in the way only Pete Townshend can. (Ever done that shredmeister axeman JS? 🎸) Then they auctioned it. Someone bought it for $168,000! So, yes, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

I love this example! 

It’s a great reminder that what something is worth is not a property of the thing itself. In this case, the value to the buyer is quite obviously in the story. The guitar itself is essentially memorabilia; a conversation starter.

The smashed guitar is an extreme example but virtually everything we buy has a story component to it that influences - up or down - what it’s worth to us.

For example: a farm to table restaurant, or a LEED certified co-working space, or cruelty free shampoo, or cars made in a carbon neutral factory, or “these are the sneakers that LeBron wears”, etc etc etc...

Some people will pay a premium for these things. Not because they cost more to produce (they might cost less to produce), and not because they are objectively better (there’s no such thing as “objectively better”), but because their stories align with the target buyer’s ideology or worldview or identity or aspirations. 

There’s always a story aspect taking place in the buyer’s head, even if the story is “I just want the cheapest one,” or “I don’t care about fancy packaging,” or “I buy the best value option”, or whatever.

Pretending otherwise when it comes to pricing your own offerings is a great way to leave loads of money on the table.

And no, I don’t recall ever smashing a guitar 😎