Sell To The Masses, Eat With The Classes?

Sell To The Classes, Eat With The Masses?

If there’s one hard and fast rule I’ve learned on my personal journey to improved happiness and personal success, it’s that there isn’t one hard and fast rule. And the oft-quoted “Sell to the masses” line is a great example of this. While it has an element of truth in it, it also has a lot of potential for sending a person looking for some inspiration in completely the wrong direction. First of all, it implies that unit sales volume or net income has anything to do with “class” or happiness. And secondly, it suggests that a person can’t be a financial success without mass-producing something. As an example of the fallacy of the latter, just think of familiar names like Tiger Woods or less-familiar names, like the artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. Yes, those individuals are largely the exception, but so are the examples that are often rattled off as reasons why you should “sell to the masses”. For every Google, there’s a Hotbot, Excite, Lycos, and hundreds of others of similar products that failed. Remember Alta Vista? Remember when Yahoo mattered?

In parroting this old saying, there’s also a sort of implication that quantity is going to be the most important factor. Satirist H.L. Mencken said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public“, but that’s no reason to take aim at that as your target market. I know a couple of skilled designers that do high end interiors with “reclaimed” materials. They shop all sorts of weird places for discarded industrial fixtures or wood, pay little or nothing for these materials, and charge a very rewarding amount of money to refresh the items and create stunningly unique residential and commercial interiors. They do very little “work”; most of their energy goes into diddling around looking for old treasures, and talking to people. And they rightfully take pride both in the creations themselves, and the knowledge that they’re preserving great design elements of the past while recycling materials that are otherwise “waste”. Both of the gentleman I’m referring to are just that – GENTLEMAN – and have no shortage of class or income. One of them is friends with a former president, if that adds to his cred in any way.

But I’m not suggesting that there’s anything WRONG with making millions or billions from a mass-market product, but it was after all one of the greatest mass-producers of all time – Henry Ford – who said “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business“.

About Ian

Ian is a media consultant, writer, musician, and budding public speaker with an eye on being the next Ellen. Ian's interest in helping others find success and happiness stems from his experience with events planning and media consulting with organizations like and the Kenya/US NGO Amara Conservation from 2000-2008, which taught him how little we all know about what we're really doing. From 2008 until April of 2011, Ian wrote for and maintained the site Ian learned long ago that the journey to success may take occasional detours, and often eschews the road map in favor of taking in life's scenery. His first business venture was a small telecom company in the late 1980's, but subsequent ventures included pursuing a pop music career, screenwriting, and the foodservice and retail employment that often follows such pursuits. After struggling with addiction for years, Ian is happily embracing recovery and the clarity it brings.