In my line of work, you’re usually moving so fast, running down so many leads to so many missed marketing opportunities, that it can sometimes be a little difficult to get things to penetrate your preoccupied noggin. But every once in a while, something manages to sneak in and stay there.
A lot of my clients seem to mistake themselves for their own target audiences. They think the most important phrases in their provincial vocabularies are, “I like” and “I don’t like.”
Unless they happen to be their own biggest customers, it really doesn’t matter what they like or don’t like. What matters is what their prospects will like. And it really matters if their prospects like it enough to buy whatever it is my clients happen to be selling.
Because they think their likes and dislikes matter, they frequently and prematurely tire of their marketing messages, advertising campaigns, and whatever other means by which they’re attempting to establish their brands in the minds of the myriad members of their target audiences. Big mistake. Trust me, I’ve cracked enough of these marketing mysteries to know that signaling to your target audiences that you’ve given up on yourself is the best way to get them to join you. If you don’t believe in your own brand enough to sustain consistent communications, don’t expect anyone else to believe in it.
Believe it or not, I learned one of my most valuable lessons in brand consistency in 2007. I went to see George Benson in Atlantic City. Since he’s one of the most jaw-dropping jazz instrumentalists on the planet, all I wanted him to do was play his guitar. And play it he did. The crowd, including yours truly, sat in awestruck reverence at the man’s prowess, at his phrasing, at his unerring inventiveness.
At one point, to my dismay, George started playing the opening riff to “Give me the Night”, a tune I took to be a throwaway piece of post-disco fluff that had no business being in his repertoire. But George knew better. Within seconds, there wasn’t a butt in any seat in the house. All of us — yep, including me — were up, clapping in rhythm, and dancing right along with George, who was dancing like a kid and grinning like the master of his audience he is.
And while the house lights stayed down, all the lights in my head came on. What George realized and I didn’t until that moment was that, for some members of his audience, “Give me the Night” was part of his brand. And he was going to stay true to it.
With that lesson in mind, I give you The Case of the Blown Investment: