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So it’s been a while since any of us have sat in a concert hall, waiting for a classical music performance to start. I know it’s something I’ve really missed.

But just imagine what it will be like once we can…

The orchestra all arrive on stage individually and choose any seat they like on the stage. 

Some of them like Beethoven, some have a personal preference for Handel, some prefer more contemporary music so they choose a piece by Ligeti.  They all start playing at different times and the conductor can’t conduct because they’re all playing at a different speed. 

They are all meeting the objective of “play your part in a symphony concert” – but each is playing to their own personal agenda. It sounds awful and definitely not what you paid to hear! 

The conductor tries to salvage the situation.  So she starts trying to play some of the instruments herself to make it sound better.  She starts running around the stage playing small bits of each part or each piece, but it just adds to the noise. 

You know what you wanted to hear but it just isn’t shining through.  

Eventually the Beethoven players all find each other and move to sit together.  Beethoven was what that orchestra first played so they’re the most experienced players.  The Beethoven starts to dominate and the other pieces struggle to be heard. 

Meanwhile, their marketer has been asked to sell tickets for this concert.  But each player in the orchestra has briefed him on their own part and piece.  He’s had to tell three different stories at the same time or just say something bland that masks the misalignment.  He also has a limited budget and everyone needs to have ‘a bit of their part’ included in the marketing plan to feel like it’s fair.  Which means nothing gets traction. 

His marketing performance actually has a bigger problem. Who wants to come to this concert?  The Beethoven people don’t like Handel and hate Ligeti.  Some of the Handel fans might suffer Beethoven but not Ligeti.  Some might try Ligeti but don’t like Beethoven.  The Ligeti fans think they’re coming to an avant-garde performance and they like lots of discord not harmony. 

It’s a tough sell.  And sounds like a poor marketing performance.

Of course, I am explaining an extreme situation.  But is there any truth in this scenario in terms of what’s happening in your organisation? 

If you’re struggling to choose where to focus your marketing strategy and how to explain what you do, get help to do so.  And then brief your marketer.

For the sake of your audience. 

Jill Pringle is author of The Brand Symphony.  Based on her trademarked Orchestrate Method, it teaches you how to compose a clear value proposition and orchestrate your marketing activity behind it.  Jill also offers coached programmes and marketing consultancy.

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