I had an interesting meeting yesterday with a struggling arts group (and, no, they don’t have to be synonymous: struggling/arts group).
They are a performance organization and tour globally. They can draw at the Kennedy Center, but not at home. Could marketing be an issue? Of course.
For years a graphic designer has handled their advertising. Beautiful ads, exquisite imagery, no sales. (Isn’t that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?)
So, of course, we can do better advertising (a snappy headline, a call to action, some emotional tinkering, the whole create lust- evoke trust® thing). But, a little informal research told me there was a deeper problem- the brand isn’t delivering the goods.
Suppose you went to buy a pair of Nike track shoes, but the store wouldn’t let you have them without buying a pair of really ugly shit-kicker boots.
That’s what this group was doing in their performances. Come to a show to see an emotionally uplifting, amazing good time, great show-but, to get that, you have to sit through the “culture lesson” they think you need which is going to go over like a root canal without anesthesia.
No amount of great advertising can overcome delivering a product that is only half what’s promised, at least on a repeat basis.
So, before you think your advertising needs help, do a little brand check up. Ask customers what they expect from you when they buy (our client the Pizza Factory delivers not only amazing imaginative pizzas, they deliver peace of mind that when you order the office lunch from them that you will get an amazing dining experience which will make you look like a hero to your boss) and then deliver that PLUS something extra special. It’s not up to you to decide what their expectations are, it’s up to you to know them and exceed them.
When you have figured out what they expect, then check your brand to see if it fits their perception: Apple- easy to use technology, Harley Davidson- macho motorcycles for true Americans, and see if you fit with your brand.
This arts organization is killing itself by trying to tell its audiences what they should know instead of giving them what they want. Not a model for success.
That’s why Volkswagen is going to have a hard time selling it’s Phaeton (a $70,000 luxury car) and Honda never moved a lot of S2000 2 seat sports cars (why this car wasn’t an Acura I’ll never know).
And that’s why Apple computer would be in deep trouble if them made a computer that was as complicated as a windows PC.
Make sure your brand performs what it’s supposed to.

What do you think?