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Marketing: No Field of Dreams


We all know the movie, “Field of Dreams” where Kevin Costner’s character plowed under his cornfields and built a baseball field in Iowa.  Magically, baseball players (or their ghosts) appeared to play ball and, as James Earl Jones so eloquently predicted… (SPOILER ALERT) people came, they paid, and Kevin Costner’s character kept his farm.

This infamous soliloquy predicting that “people will come,” has striking (excuse the pun) lessons for businesses about marketing.

  1. Know your customers.  What does your customer need, want and desire?  In this movie, the customers were seeking peace.  That’s not much different than what most consumers seek in the products and services they buy either for work as they design multi-million dollar projects or personally as they select the car their kids will ride in to school every day.

“People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past.  ‘Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,’ you’ll say, ‘It’s only $20 per person.’ They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack.”

  1. Know your differentiators.  What do your customers want that only you provide?  In this movie, it’s a place with memories that remind them of all that was good in the past, including players they can see nowhere else.  Think it through; is it safety, convenience, reliability, entertainment, growth, or something else?

“And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray.”

  1. Why should customers purchase from you, not just once, but repeatedly? What value do you offer?  This is different from your product and service, and may vary for different customers or groups of customers.  For example, if your customers include manufacturers and dealers, each may seek a different value.  The same is true if you sell to businesses and consumers.  In this movie, the value was hope that all things good could be good once again.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

This movie is called Field of Dreams and its title serves as a reminder that you’re dreaming if you believe people come to your business without marketing.

Marketing is the process of delivering the right message to the right audiences using the right tools at the right time.  It has a starting point and a middle…but it never stops.  It can be improved, perfected, changed, and paused…but it never completely stops.


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