Friday, September 07, 2007

What I learned from Pavarotti about marketing

In early 2001, Luciano Pavarotti performed in Rochester, NY in the local indoor arena to a sold-out crowd. It was his only performance in Rochester during his long career. The local newspaper said his voice wasn't as good at it used to be, but the crowd saw and heard a man who had a wonderful voice and who performed with passion.

I went to the concert with a couple of friends and we sat in cheap seats (~$40 if I remember correctly) that were actually next to the stage (on the side...remember this was an arena). So we could not see him straight on, but from a side view. There were others -- in cheap seats -- who sat literally behind the stage and saw the entire concert from behind! They, however, were very appreciative and cheered loudly.

Here is the lesson.

Pavarotti did not ignore the people in the cheap seats. In fact, he went out of his way to wave often to the people who sat behind the stage. They -- like those in the very expensive seats -- were part of his audience. He knew that they appreciated his music and new that they might come to another concert, purchase a CD, etc. In other words, everyone there potentially was a customer who could spend more if he made a personal connection with them.

Our clients -- our users, our patrons -- are everyone who uses our services. We should treat them all the same and make the person who uses our services once feel as important as the person who uses our services many times. Why? Because everyone is a potential supporter and a potential donor. In looking for support, we often look for the "big fish", but what if many people were able to give a little money? Wouldn't all those small donations add up? And if those who could support us with small donations feel ignored, what does that say to those who might support us with big donations? That night in 2001, Pavarotti ignored no one and we all became his supporters.

Luciano Pavarotti will be missed. Yes, his voice will live on in many recordings. I hope, too, that the lesson he taught me in marketing is not lost.

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