Self Awareness And The Long Tail.
The diagram comes from Seth Godin's blogpost about the long tail which he illustrated with movie examples. It's a nice device but he missed out the classic example, Snakes On A Plane.
If this had been a foreign language horror movie, it would have had very little but cult appeal and been buried in the low profit anonymity of pocket 3 where the aggregators hang out. But it wasn't. It was clearly a genre movie destined for the profitable, popular cult status of pocket 2.
However, this very fact and the noise that potential fans made on the internet caused its producers/distributers to conclude that it was, in fact, a mainstream movie with the industry holy grail of pocket 1 at its mercy. It wasn't and, as I've written before, this led to bad reactions from the first view mainstream audience, arguably a lesser box-office performance and cetainly a less profitable one in light of the increased marketing spend that was wasted.
The lessons are as follows.
1) Know and be what you are and act consistently and coherently in relation to that.
2) Don't be what you're not because you'll be found out quickly and negative word of mouth will follow.
3) Let the customers decide what you are to them. They may decide you're more than you initially thought and that will be a nice surprise.