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Marketing 101: Pay Attention to the Small Stuff

By: Dianna Huff

Dianna Huff, owner of DH Communications, specializes in marketing writing for high-tech and industrial companies. Her web site is located at

A good friend of mine recently became the marketing director for a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts center on the west coast. He was hired in part to turn the agency’s failing marketing efforts around, something he did in a matter of months. Being an interested spectator and thinking I might learn something myself, I asked him what were some of the things he did to make his organization a key player in a region crowded with performing art agencies.

His answer surprised me—not because he told me anything new, but because his methods were so . . . simple, yet you see many companies making the very same mistakes every day. What are his secrets?

Have one image and use it consistently

One of the first things my friend did was bring together all the images, logos, and tag lines the agency was using to promote itself. He and his team chose the one logo and tag that best said what the agency was about and started using it on all their marketing materials. This gave the agency a cohesive look that had been lacking.

Not having a cohesive look is where many companies, organizations, and even government entities fail in their marketing efforts.

Everything that promotes your business should look the same including colors and type fonts. When people see your materials, there should be no confusion about the company with whom they are doing business. 

Pay attention to positioning and target audience

My friend realized, via a patron survey, that no one was reading their expensive, yet very well designed ads—which was because they were being placed with no thought to audience. From his survey, he found out that his customers read a certain mix of art publications. His first move, then, was to cancel many of the agency’s media buys, focusing instead on those publications his audience read. Attendance at art and performance events soared.

Moral: take the time to find out how your customers find you. 

Most importantly, get your employee’s buy-in 

When embarking on any marketing effort, input from employees is critical for two reasons: one, you want to develop buy-in at the very start, and two, many of your employees will have invaluable insight from which to draw—especially those people who work directly with your customers.

Listening to “front-line” employees was especially helpful to my friend. One day, a box office staff member mentioned that several ticket buyers for a recent dance company performance, whose artistic staff are all women, had said something like, “I want tickets to that show with the women choreographers.” My friend and his staff adjusted the upcoming promotional materials and advertising with the following positioning, “ . . . featuring three of America’s finest women choreographers.” The two week performance run sold out—a first for that company in that city.

Improving your marketing effectiveness can be pretty easy if you pay attention to the small stuff. A cohesive look, on-target positioning, and employee feedback will help you achieve the results you want.

© Copyright 1999, Dianna Huff

Other Articles by Dianna Huff

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