Friday, June 26, 2009

I’m so tired of this… it’s probably just about to catch on

Back when I was working in the world of not-for-profit theatre in Philadelphia, I spent a lot of time and energy (but very little money) marketing theatrical works to ticket buyers and to schools and festivals that would book tours.

For two years I ran a company named Mum Puppettheatre which created wordless, movement based puppetry. Marketing this company’s product – again, wordless, movement based puppetry – was not like selling an iPhone; we had a very niche product and customer base, to say the least.

Whatever your views on theater and puppetry are, let it be known that we were a pretty successful company, and artistically well regarded. Much of our financial success, however, came from our annual production of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – a favorite children’s book of many.

The first year I was there, the Artistic Director said to me, “We’ve been doing this show for five years… I’m starting to get tired of it… I think this will be the last year.” His tune changed dramatically when we broke our box office record by 50%, so he agreed to do it one more year.

“This is definitely the last one – I just can’t do this show anymore,” he said. Ticket sales doubled and box office records were shattered again.

“We just can’t walk away from this – the company needs it to grow,” I would say, “to subsidize all the other stuff we want to do.”

He acquiesced. We made an agreement that the show would be produced every holiday season, but HE would never perform in it again. He would pass it along to others.

I mention this story, because it illustrates a lesson that I run into time and time again, a truth about marketing, advertising and brand communication. That truth?

The moment when you [the marketer] get sick of saying something about your product or brand for the umpteenth time, is usually about the same moment when customers START hearing and embracing it.

So what does this mean? Assuming you do have a quality product or service, there is a customer awareness tipping point that will be reached with patience, repetition and consistent messaging. Take a quick inventory of the brands or companies that you think are the most successful and meaningful, and I think you’ll find that they say the same thing over and over and over again, and have been doing so for a long time. Contrary to that, I think you’ll find that you can’t name too many that change their messaging every 1-2 years, because their message doesn’t have a chance to stand out, and become successful.

Sometimes it is hard as a marketer to have this patience, to say the same thing so many times that it hurts to keep doing it. Given the outsider’s perspective, it is easy for me to remind clients of this fact, but I know it is much harder when looking at your own brand.

After 4 ½ years of running SoHo Experiential, Jeff and I have started reaching this point in the development of our own corporate identity. A few of the quotes that may have been heard between us over the last year:

“I’m sick of our website.”

“Can we please update our capabilities presentation?”

“We need a new logo.”

“I can’t look at you when we present our credentials anymore.”

“Your voice pierces me.”

“What is that thing you are wearing?”

“Do we have a tagline? Do we need one?”

The compulsion to shake things up, to re-brand, is strong. And, at times when business is a little bit slower than normal (thank you 2009 economy), those compulsions grow into an impossible to ignore siren song which calls you to use your free time to give your brand a makeover.

We would discuss the idea of consistency and patience and, frankly, the best way to invest any “makeover” capital, and we had tremendous difficulty getting outside of ourselves. Plus, we still haven’t become a household name (See blog post on June 2 for more on that). At the end of the day we asked our employees and some strategic partners to look at our brand, and tell us what they thought, in order to help us determine, what, if anything we should change.

We learned that we should make some changes, because we weren’t being consistent with our communications. For example, our capabilities presentation said one thing and looked one way, while our website looked another. So, we’ve spent the last six months upgrading our brand to be consistent across the board.

Hence, it is with great pleasure that we are launching our new website, at We like it, and hope you will too. Our feeling is that it, plus the other updates we’re making, along with consistent messaging over the next few years, will help us hit that tipping point where many customers will know our name, (and how to say it).

In the end, we had to look to others to better see ourselves. Perhaps, like the director at Mum Puppettheatre was tired of performing, we were simply tired of talking about ourselves.

Please enjoy the new website – if you have any feedback on it, please let us know.



  1. I like the new website!!!! Where's a picture of me? You KNOW you love me.

  2. Site looks good, great case studies. But the music is HUGELY annoying, to be candid. Ditch it!