Pay Attention: Amazing Marketing Lessons are All Around You

I just returned from an awesome vacation visiting friends and hanging out in New York City and on the Connecticut shoreline. Everywhere I go I’m surrounded by lessons on what to do or what not to do when it comes to marketing. I’ll share a few observations I made while traveling.

While in New York, my daughter wanted to see the Broadway revival of West Side Story. Since I performed in musical theater in New York for years and love this musical as one of the all time greats, I was happy to take her. Unfortunately we were disappointed. In the original production the “gang members” were very tough, earthy dancers who really made you feel the gritty, difficult lives they lived. In this production, the gang members seemed more like prep school boys. The lead character, Maria, was played by an Argentinean woman with both a mediocre singing voice and acting skills. It was hard to even hear many of her lines. Finally the director risked taking the liberty of delivering a portion of both lyrics and dialogue in Spanish. Yes, some characters are supposed to be Spanish speaking, but the majority of the audience missed key dialogue and lyrics if they didn’t’ understand Spanish. Obviously ticket holders were going to compare the revival with the original and with the movie, both of which were stellar. Falling short was not an option.

New York is sometimes like a small town. Word travels fast and word of mouth sells tons of tickets. With poor directorial choices and poor casting the result was a theatre that was one third empty. Enough said.

Marketing lesson:

  1. Don’t underestimate word of mouth and viral marketing.
  2. It’s better to under promise and over deliver.

Also while in New York I had dinner with an old friend from my college days. His company, located on Broadway in mid-town Manhattan, designs, manufactures and sells novelty fabrics. He’s been in business for more than 20 years and has achieved impressive success. The company currently sells to giants like Walmart and some of the top fabric chains. In observing his business over the years I’ve noted that his company specializes in one category of fabric only. It’s their specialty niche where they are considered experienced and knowledgeable experts. I’m sure it must have been tempting to consider branching out into other categories, but by staying specialized they have achieved sustainable success, a stellar reputation and a wonderful lifestyle.

Marketing lesson:

  1. Find a profitable niche where you can become known as the go-to expert. Make sure it’s not too broad, yet also not so small that there are too few customers.
  2. Being a generalist or jack-of-all-trades never works. People want to pay for expertise and experience in a specific area. You can’t be everything to everyone.

Try observing the companies you do business with. What makes them successful? What changes would make your experience with them better? I see companies make glaring mistakes that seem so obvious yet they go unresolved. To avoid finding your small business in the same situation, take a step away and take a totally honest and impartial look at what is working and what isn’t. Ask clients or subscribers for honest feedback through surveys and in person. Sometimes the most minor changes can have a huge impact on the results you get.

1 Comment
  • Mouli Cohen
    Posted at 19:46h, 11 July Reply

    It’s better to under promise and over deliver.
    I live to this advice because what matters is the customer’s satisfaction. From there, profits follows suddenly.

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