How would you feel if you spent years searching for an elusive treasure and not sure you’d find it?
Only to find it… discover how rare it really was… and then have it snatched from you?
That’s the story of “Sue,” the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found in 1990 in South Dakota.
(By the way, Tyrannosaurus means “tyrant lizard” in Ancient Greek and Rex is Latin for “king.”)
It’s a heartbreaking story. And like many great love stories, complicated.
You see, a team of “Indiana Jones” types were mucking around the hills of South Dakota, and somehow sensed there was something big lying underneath the earth.
Little did they know.
They ended up finding the most intact T-Rex skeleton ever discovered. It was a stunning find.
And they had big plans for making “Sue”(named after Sue Hendrickson, the paleontologist who found her) the main feature in their museum.
The museum was in a small town. Hill City, South Dakota. At the time of Sue’s discovery, they had around 650 residents.
So the town thought they were going to have a huge tourist attraction. They were stoked.
Except it never happened.
In an amazing, convoluted story that ended up sending one of the paleontologists to a federal penitentiary in Colorado (because he ticked off the judge) Sue was taken from the small town and put into storage.
The dispute was where Sue was found. And it had to do with federal land and Indian Trust Land.
In other words, it was a bunch of red tape, confusing state laws, and the small matter of the man who said he “owned” the land really not owning it.
What a mess.
It was heartbreaking because the team that found Sue never had the satisfaction of bringing her to the world on their terms.
Instead, bureaucracy hijacked their dream.
The nattering bureaucrats boxed up Sue. She sat in a warehouse for years until she was finally auctioned off at Sotheby’s in 1997.
California State University, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and individual donors pitched in to purchase Sue for The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.
Final cost after Sotheby’s commission: US$8,362,500.
You know, this reminds me of how often marketers work hard to find their ‘treasures.’
Marketers who have great ideas that only need to be polished before sharing them with their target market.
But then something gums up the system.
So make sure you “own” your stuff.
And keep digging for even more treasure.
I’ll give you a big hint for finding it: it’s buried in your target market.
Need help mapping out the exact location?
Your fellow Profit Excavation Committee Board Member…