Sunday, 5 January 2014

Why would you expect a tiger to be a vegetarian? Or Understanding Your Client – Basic lessons in marketing the arts

Want to pump up your success?  You will have to learn some marketing basics.  This image is taken from Google's stock file.

I get called many things in the course of a week; luckily for me most of those names are positive.  I was recently signing a contract that required a title to come after my name, which believe it or not, is always a challenge for me.  Now if you know me, you know it is not because I suffer for a lack of words.  That's not my problem.  My problem is which words to choose.  And I always ask the client, "What do you want me to call myself?"

The client in question, rather tongue in cheek, suggested that I put down "smart person".  Wouldn't you like a nametag with that one?  "Gloria Hickey, Smart Person".   I have another variation on that one: Wise Woman.  And that one came from my aversion to meetings.  I detest long, apparently useless, meetings.  Worse yet are meetings to plan meetings.  I don't know about you but I do my best thinking on my own doing something like staring out the window or walking.  Anyhow, the Wise Woman label fell off my tongue when I was turning down a request to join a committee.  "I do not want to be on your committee," was my response.  And I closed with, "But you are welcome to ask for advice anytime and I will be your wise woman."    This is what is called a "Yes, but…" pattern.  Never disagree with your client at the outset of the relationship.  (Maybe that position should come with special robes like a high priestess.  Sorry, I am having fun.)

Now before you think Gloria is completely off her rocker, let me tell you where this is going.  This is about managing perception through words in order to get what you want.  It is the basis of much marketing and something that we should all learn or be prepared to be very disappointed. Or at least that is my not so humble opinion.

At the heart of this is yet another axiom: stay away from clutter.  If the herd is charging off to one watering hole you have a much better chance of getting a drink if you go to another watering hole.  Years and years ago, I was fundraising with an artist for a major catalogue.  It was something of a disaster area as the gallery had missed the deadline for traditional funding opportunities and we were left to our own devices.  The artist said he had an "in" with the president of Shoppers Drug Mart so off the artist trots to approach this, not insignificant, player in the community.  We get turned down.  Why?  They were awash in requests for money.

Not only was there too much competition, we were out-gunned.  I learned we were coming up against Skate Canada, which was fundraising in the same community.  They had much bigger numbers than we did.  We would have been better off going to a smaller business that got asked less frequently for money. There's another lesson embedded in this example too.

How's this for an example of tailoring the same message for different audiences?

Corporate sponsors look at your attendance figures like the numbers on a profit sheet.  Think of it as a cost/benefit analysis.  "How many consumers does my charitable dollar buy?" or in terms of public relations exposure, "How much ink or air time does my contribution buy?"  Now, right about now you should be saying something like, "And you call this charity?"  My point exactly.  But let me put it to you this way:  why would expect a tiger to be a vegetarian?  Businesses are about profit.  No profit, no business. 


  1. Capitalism: This shit isn't a charity

  2. Right you are. Charity it is not. The sooner we realize that the better.