You Are Not Special.
I have a routine. Get up, work, sleep. Repeat.
Unless you’re a vampire, this is a fairly common sequence of events. When I look back on my life, the day-to-day doesn’t register on any traditional scale that weighs “special.” Even the moments in between those three universal activities tend to be patterned out over the course of a week, year, etc. with very few exceptions. Here’s my confession:
I like my routine.
Marketers tend to err on the side of romanticizing those folks who seem to have glamorous and exotic “in-betweens” filling the gaps with extravagantly irregular moments. We’re constantly being bombarded with ways to cage that creature of habit with shiny new technology, pattern-breaking vacations, or even attending a performance at a non-profit arts organization. The subversive sales pitch is: “You are bored, you need excitement… I’ve got JUST the thing for you…”
What if we considered the opposite as marketers? Instead of trying to get me out of my pattern, how about appealing directly to it? Where do we spend the majority of our time? It’s in our routines. If you want to win access to my routine, you should try going through the biggest door — not the smallest one, where “special” resides.
Glorifying the “Ordinary”
Most events are not special. (Yes. Even yours by that new writer, and starring that super amazing and quite possibly famous actor.) So when someone says, “Special Event!!!” or “Once-in-a-Lifetime” or my personal favorite, “A Night You’ll Never Forget,” it’s a little trick to play on our desire to not eat ramen every night, even though you might ultimately be feeding me a bowl full of noodles for two hours. Again I’ll ask… Have you considered that people actually like ramen?
There are so few singular, unique, and special events that trying to add yours to my routine would be better served by increasing the quality of your performances and events. Those events can and should speak for themselves. I don’t need everything to be special or unique. I need them to be comforting, familiar, and additive. I want to be a part of your community. If your event is special, I will definitely tell you. Please don’t tell me first. This is a classic example of under-promising and over-delivering. Truly “special” happens when we are surprised. When our expectations are surpassed.
The sports world has made very large piles of money by turning a common nine-inning baseball game into a routine emotional experience for parents to pass to their children. Season tickets? They are literally willed to family members. This isn’t just a supply-and-demand thing; it’s an emotional habit- and pattern-forming thing.
Next time you’re tempted to glam up your marketing e-mail or season brochure with superlatives — don’t. Instead, appeal to what the majority of our lives are like. The routine. The comfort of the everyday. That tweak to your marketing philosophy could make even the most cynical patron feel like you’re not selling anything to them. It should feel like an invitation. Like you know what is truly special:
“That feeling you get when you hit your mattress and your pillow when you’re back from vacation? That’s what it’s like to come to our theater. Welcome home.”
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2 responses to “You Are Not Special.”
We featured a tag line for several years that reflects this thought. “Come Out with Us and Feel at Home.” Graphics and copy reflected the idea of belonging, comfort and welcome. It’s not quite “You’re Not Special” (!) but perhaps the same neighborhood. Very nice post. Thank you.