We have seen some terrific musicals in Winnipeg over the past couple of years at Rainbow Stage. Last week, my wife and I went to see Kinky Boots at the Centennial Concert Hall.
I knew nothing about the show, other than the signs and advertising that featured bright red, high-heeled boots.
My brother and another good friend each told me that it was a terrific show. And they didn’t tell me anything more about it. All they did was smile.
The show was fabulous. But, I was not ready for the fact that it was actually about…
Forget the story of young men finding their own way, dealing with their feelings and beliefs, and trying to survive when others don’t want you to or they make it very tough on you.
This was, pure and simple, about marketing. A fourth generation, century old factory, making men’s shoes (brogues, and I really need a new pair), that were not wanted by their retail customers or men in general. What could they do to survive?
It was Charlie, son of the recently-deceased owner, that said, and I am paraphrasing, “we need to sell something that people need.” And the way to do it, according to Lola/Simon Jr., was to, “sell sex!”
There you have it. Marketing according to Kinky Boots. You are not just selling shoes, you are selling what customers want/need, and you are selling the emotion of what they desire the product to say about them.
Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads says, “win the heart and the mind will follow.”
Terry O’Reilly, of CBC “Under the Influence” fame was recently in Winnipeg and talked about the need to be different. Both in your product/service and in how you are telling your story.
Impactful messaging is what is necessary to break through the ad clutter we are exposed to every day. I see precious little digital advertising that I would consider truly impactful. Over 650 million people worldwide have installed ad blockers on their mobile devices, according to Doc Searls. People do not want to see ads on digital platforms – especially if they are just like the other ads on TV.
Hey digerati – Be different!
Professor Youngme Moon, Harvard, wrote a fascinatingly simple book about the importance of being different. The ability to not try to have everyone and everything homogenized. This holds for thinking, products, levels of service, etc. Build off your unique strengths to set your company apart.
People will notice. This was very true when our team at Canwest Specialty turned Prime TV into…TVtropolis “hit TV lives here.” Our team won 7 industry awards for various promos and campaigns that we created. The station had a lot of programming that had been on TV before. But we packaged, presented, scheduled and talked about it differently than anyone had before. The team was brilliant. In year one, working closely with our Sales teams we helped increase revenue from $18 to $30 million. I am sure everyone reading this would be thrilled with a 67% increase in revenue in one year.
I have also worked for companies that wanted to say what their competitors said. And that didn’t work very well. Enough said.
Think hard and deep about the job you are helping your customer to get done. This can be a physical task or something with an emotional component – like enjoying a special ice cream. Or reminding yourself about certain childhood memories, like Toad Hall Toys does in their radio ads.
Please do not make your customer have to perform mental gymnastics when they listen to your ad message, or view your website, or listen to your way-too-long on hold message, or visit your story only to be told what you are looking for is “either on aisle 4 or 17.” Every touchpoint you have with your customer provides an opportunity to showcase your differences in a positive way.
And visual differences can really help set you apart – as an individual or an organization.
In fashion, you are selling an emotion. In this show, you were selling sex. Sure, we all want to be comfortable when we slip on a pair of nice shoes. And there is very often a desire to be trendy.
Jimmy Choo, the famous shoe designer said, “The right shoe can make everything different.”
Oh yes, and keep your shoes clean. Zig Ziglar used to say, “make sure your heels are shiny, because that is what people will look at when you leave the room.”
I wonder if that holds true with Kinky Boots?