Archive for May, 2013

May 31, 2013

What Does Your Brand Stand For? and Marketing to Robots

It’s Friday and this weekend marks the start of June!

Anyway – two great posts from two favourite bloggers that once again tie ridiculously together in my mind. I’d love to see us all pull out our mandates and mission statements and start crossing out the things everyone’s mandate and mission statements include. Like “excellence”. Of course you’re striving for excellence. What else would you be striving for – mediocrity?

Seth GodinWhat does your brand stand for? 

LOVE the last paragraph – Make a list of the differences and the extremes and start with that. A brand that stands for what all brands stand for stands for nothing much.


Mission Paradox – Marketing to Robots

Once you get to the heart, getting to the “sale” is easy.  If you don’t get to the heart, no fact is going to save you.

Spent some time at the Fresh Ideas Festival last weekend, talking about marketing to a great group of puppeteers. These two blog posts fit very well with what I was saying. And I’ve been asked by the Dancer Transition Resource Centre to give another workshop for them – June 25th and am both delighted and excited. Here’s the link for more info.

It’s beautifully timed as June 5 I’m attending The Art of Marketing conference  (NEXT WEEK!!)  and I am so excited I can barely stand it.  Here’s the lineup of speakers. This to me is a ROCKSTAR lineup.


David Usher – Juno Award Winning Musician & Creativity Expert
Biz Stone – Co-Founder of Twitter
Charles Duhigg – New York Times Investigative Reporter & Bestselling Author, The Power of Habit (which I read and adored last month)
Seth Godin – New York Times Bestselling Author, Purple Cow, Tribes & Linchpin  (who is in this very blog post)
Jonah Berger – Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On (which I was reading in the back of a cab the other day when I saw the ad for the conference. Serendipitous.)

and here’s the agenda. 

You will be hearing ALL about it. In the meantime have a great weekend – I hope it’s decent out. I’d like to finish the balcony so I can sit out there and read.

May 29, 2013

Why This Video is Awesome – TPM’s Big Red Doors

New fundraising video hit my inbox yesterday – Theatre Passe Muraille‘s campaign to replace the big red doors. Here you go – why it’s awesome is below the clip.

The doors at Passe Muraille are extremely well known –  well –  they are the doors and the entrance. However I’d venture to say the signage over the years advising people which door to use or not use is equally well-known.

Why is this video funny? Because anyone who has worked or volunteered at Passe Muraille knows those signs. And amazement never ceases at people blithely ignoring the STOP or DO NOT USE signs and barging back out through that door.

Barge – BANG! – click/push – flip to re-set the doors to be properly closed. I worked at Passe Muraille six years ago and I will still fix the doors after someone has barged through.

This video hits people in the memory – intellectual, physical, emotional. And in case you don’t remember seeing or feeling it – there’s a demo. It’s exaggerated for effect, patrons don’t get yelled at for using that door (but man, you really wished you could…).  So it adds humour as well.

Why else is it awesome? The CEO is in it. Andy is the Artistic Director – the face of the company who is well-known, respected and one of the most likeable people I know.

The doors aren’t being fixed for fun – they’re being fixed because a) they’re broken but also because b) new doors allow for greater patron accessibility.

And we’re cautioned that it’s going to cost money – money that is not lying around in a new doors slush fund.  Why so expensive? “Heritage building”. And most people, even if they don’t know all that owning a heritage building entails, know there are serious rules and regs about fixing them. So the reason for the cost is explained too.

Finally – posted on Youtube, easily shared through social media and completely accessible to all.

Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi coined a term years ago – lovemarks. He  suggested the following are the key ingredients to create lovemarks:

Mystery: Great stories: past, present and future; taps into dreams, myths and icons; and inspiration
Sensuality:  Sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste
Intimacy: Commitment, empathy, and passion
This video makes me smile. Am lovemarked. Excellent job, TPM.
May 28, 2013

Why Are We Meeting Again?

My mother was a businesswoman who had very strong – opinions – on meetings. Two of her favourite sayings were “If you want to get nothing done, let’s have a meeting” and “If you’re missing the right people for a meeting, you’ll be having another one“.

It explains a lot about me and my view of meetings. I’ve added to this  “people who think going to meetings is fun and exciting haven’t been to enough of them.” I don’t meet for the sake of meeting – the meeting isn’t something on the “accomplished” list – the meeting leads to what needs to be done.

Do not get me wrong – sometimes face to face is necessary. Some meetings are extremely important and absolutely necessary.

And sometimes a ten minute phone call can answer all the questions that an hour-long meeting takes.

Things I need include an agenda, preferably in advance and people to have done their homework prior to said meeting. And a time limit. My ideal agendas combine both – with items indicating how much time we’ll be spending on them. Still, that’s paper, not people.

We had an excellent rule for the 2010 Harold Award meetings – we’re meeting at X place, we’re meeting for an hour, and those in the room are deciding – if you can’t make it that’s fine but you can’t backtrack on decisions made while you weren’t there. Worked like a charm.

If a conversation in a meeting is only between two people for longer than three minutes – take it offline.

If a committee has served its purpose and now all members are tasked with things to do that don’t involve everyone – you’ve moved to email and phone. Disband. No more ten people meetings required.

And the devil has plenty of advocates – you don’t need to play one, either in a meeting or on TV. And certainly not EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

With this in mind, we look around the table and see the following people – and how to deal with them. Infographic!


May 27, 2013

There’s Always Something

fridge1Some days you get home and are all set to cook dinner and you look in the fridge to see what you’ll make. And you stand there, staring for a couple of minutes before making the declaration, “THERE IS NO FOOD IN THIS HOUSE.”

Really? None?

It’s possible there is no immediate food to put straight on a plate, it’s possible there’s nothing you really want to eat, it’s possible you’re missing one key ingredient to make the gastronomic feast you were hoping for.


Odds are good that’s not the case. There’s usually something. But if you decide THERE IS NO FOOD IN THIS HOUSE you are stuck in a place where you firmly believe there is NO FOOD and you CANNOT EAT. And you will continue to stare into the fridge until your knees get cold from the draft and you will not eat. Because you’ve decided there’s nothing.

Look harder. Look somewhere else.

A power bar may not be a three course dinner – but it’s something.

A can of beans and some ramen noodles may not be an amazing dinner – but it’s something.

Apples and peanut butter – you see where I’m going. Stop saying there’s nothing when there’s something.

I’ve never met an artist who, lacking an expensive sketchbook and pastels, would not draw on the back of a napkin with a pen.

I’ve never met a writer who – doesn’t.

I’ve never met a marketer who when they saw your stuff wouldn’t try to tweak it for the better.

And I’ve never met any of us who wouldn’t talk about their book, play, show, film or spoken word piece to someone else.

Very few of us have the key ingredients of LOTS OF TIME or LOTS OF MONEY. We’re all in that boat. It’s not a unique place to be. And yet we make art every day, and get people to experience it.  We find the something, and make something with it or out of it.

Find your ingredients. Find your allies.  Stop focusing on nothing. There’s always something.


May 26, 2013

Sunday Roundup – May 26

moose13rv2It’s apparently the end of May. Please let the weather know.

Today’s your last chance to experience The Charge of the Expormidable Moose with the folks at One Little Goat. You can also hit The Dumbwaiter and previews have begun  for Sister Mary’s a Dyke. I was at dress rehearsal last week. It’s enchanting. And if you went to Catholic school – pick a joke, any joke.

Personally? I’m off to be on a panel  – Fresh Ideas in Puppetry Day  -We’ll be discussing the theme of producing and working with producers, and marketing for theatre, facilitated by Dahlia Katz. Other panelists include  Louise Lapointe of Casteliers in Montreal and Anne Barber of Shadowland Theatre. Fresh Ideas Day is an annual mini-conference and festival showcasing artists, both emerging and established, who are taking new and ground-breaking directions in puppetry. This one day convivial gathering is packed full of presentations, demonstrations and discussions, and culminates in an evening of short, fresh works-in-progress along with excerpts from new works. Robert Gill Theatre. Looking forward to it!

Last week! My GOODNESS what a week and you all know why so I won’t even get into that part of it

Uh – thanks? Edited

Take our Junk Mail – please?

It’s Come to This, Has It?

And a quick Sunday read that is both amusing and true – Seven Marketing Lessons From Pulp Fiction

May 24, 2013

It’s Come to This, Has It?

CT  CT 070611-ENT ent-0706-texting MJWTitle doing double duty today – a couple of great (great’s an odd word for it) articles on how we seem to be getting ruder and ruder in public places. And we’re starting to react.

The Great Fight Way: Broadway Audiences Are Behaving Badly, and Someone Is Going to Get Hurt

In Mr. Zavelson’s opinion, it’s not just the technology audience members have in the palms of their hands that’s to blame. He suspects that on-demand and streaming media services have accustomed people to viewing “shows” in the casual atmosphere of their own homes, and now they are bringing those manners with them into the public space.”

I guess for me the part where I wasn’t in my pajamas and had paid money to be there would remind me I wasn’t at home, but there you go.

and last week

Theater Night: Vigilantes 1, Vulgarians 0
“The lady seated to my immediate right (very close quarters on bench seating) was fairly insistent about using her phone. I asked her to turn it off. She answered: “So don’t look.” I asked her whether I had missed something during the very pointed announcements to please turn off your phones, perhaps a special exemption granted for her. She suggested that I should mind my own business.”

I  was at a movie a couple of weeks, the couple sitting three seats over from me carried on a discussion about the movie the entire two hours. I am going to give them a small benefit as their stupidity seemed to be  – uh  – chemically induced. One of those couples who were talking during an exposition scene then when the exposition became reality, were full of questions because they’d missed the exposition.

I don’t even know any more. I don’t know about a lot of things. I do know I mentioned there might be another “Dear Rob” post this week and it didn’t happen. The story gets sadder and more ridiculous by the day. Instead, here’s a link to Ivor Tossell’s Dear Rob. The most upsetting paragraph holds the most truth for me –

“Bad as they are, things could keep getting worse. Irrespective of the allegations themselves, Ford has terminally damaged his credibility by leaving the city hanging when it needed to hear from him most. And with his credibility goes our credibility, in our own eyes and the eyes of the world on which we depend. Toronto cannot keep on until the end of 2014 with a mayor who won’t address the charges against him that have ground government to a halt, who’s turned his city into a global laughingstock, and who could well be self-destructing in the grips of an addiction. The status quo is not an option. Yet the courses that aren’t an option are the ones Ford has historically been most determined to pursue.”

Reminder to take a break every so often from the 24 hour newsfeed. Go outside for a bit, I know it’s cold but you know what I mean.



May 23, 2013

Take our Junk Mail – please?


I found this article to be – slightly bizarre. And desperate.

“Junk mail is useful.

So says Canada Post in a direct pitch to Canadians to take down their “no flyers” signs, arguing that they are missing out on coupons, catalogues and community notices.

Addressed to Occupant, letters from Amanda Maltby, Canada Post’s chief privacy officer and general manager of compliance began arriving this week in some residents’ mailboxes across the country.”

So Canada Post’s revenues are in decline, because we don’t mail things any more to people who want to receive things from us. So instead they are asking us to sign up to receive things from people we don’t know that are quite probably things we don’t want and accept them to keep Canada Post in business.

Please tell me when this became my problem?

Hmm. For fun I just went and grabbed my junk mail from the past two days out of my recycling bin. I used to have a “no junk mail” sticker on my mailbox, but since it’s part of a superbox of 50, 3 days out of 5 I get junk mail. What do we have?

A leaflet/magazine about homes and the feature article is backyard landscaping. I own a condo with a balcony. Unhelpful.
A leaflet from RBC on car and life insurance – I don’t own a car and I already have insurance through my current financial institution.
Pizzaiolo menu. I don’t order from them, and if I did it would be online. Where I can access all this information anyway.
Rogers stuff, Rogers stuff, Rogers stuff.
Realtors wanting to help sell my condo, Realtors wanting to help sell my condo, Realtors wanting to help sell my condo.
Grey Power Insurance flyer. Badly targeted direct mail – the average age in my condo community is >45. Now I’m vaguely  insulted.

So to recap – Coupons? Zero. Catalogs? Zero. Community notices? Zero. Junk Mai? Ten. And when I get that letter addressed to “Occupant”? Eleven.

It would probably help if the junk – excuse me – direct unaddressed ad – mailers would do a better job of targeting. Drives me nuts. I’m extremely picky about niche marketing, mostly because the companies I work with don’t have the cash to spray and pray. They need their flyers and info to go to people who will want and use them.

I also might think about it if you’d manage to get me my first class mail on time. And if my Maclean’s Magazine subscription didn’t mysteriously just not show up every long  weekend.

Bad marketing Canada Post. Desperate plea for us  to take something we don’t want or need to help keep you afloat. I also don’t want or need the chocolate bars kids sell to get their junior band to the championships, but at least they have an appealing reason.

Perhaps you could do a crowfunder. Call it Postie-starter. Or PostieGoGo.


May 22, 2013

Uh – thanks? Edited

ETA 11:25 am May 22  – Due to unforseen circumstances, the Wednesday May 22 evening performance of The Charge of the Expormidable Moose has been cancelled. If you have purchased tickets in advance for this evening’s performance, please contact the Tarragon Box Office at 416.531.1827. We are pleased that the remaining performances will continue as scheduled, visit the One Little Goat website for updates. Many thanks!


Sorry – I got distracted by work stuff and other stuff. So much stuff.

Let’s see   – we do not have a casino. Thank you city council.

We do have a mayor who has made the Daily Show, and not in a cool “being interviewed for his newest book on great city building” kind of way. I don’t know who to thank for that.

We do have a Prime Minister in Peru. Uh – thanks?

Moving on. Mission Paradox is back!

When I begin working with people I often ask this question: Give me an example of marketing that you really like or love.

The ones that end up struggling the most with their marketing don’t like anything that anyone is doing. One of the side effects of modern life is our ability to find the flaw in anything.  We can rip big organizations for being greedy or small ones for not being ambitious enough. Read more

This of course gets me to thinking – the post a while back on What You’ve Got is What I Need let’s add that to the list – stuff you’ve seen and liked. And we’re not getting into the “well of course it’s great, they had hundreds of thousands of dollars” thing. I’ve seen terrible marketing for a quarter of a million, I’ve seen great marketing for a hundred dollars plus tax (true story). And let’s look at the stuff you’ve done previously. The (in)consistency can tell me a great deal.

Trapped in the house today waiting for a UPS delivery. I’ve received  the coveted “somewhere between 10:30 a.m. and 7 pm” slot. Besides working on press kits for Sister Mary’s a Dyke (previews May 25!) and pulling press quotes for Dumbwaiter (runs through June 2!) and some work for the final week of Moose I’ll be doing this today – Ten Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Small Business

May 19, 2013

Sunday Roundup – May 19

What a – week. SO much going on in the theatre world with One Little Goat continuing to get amazing reviews for The Charge of the Expormidable Moose, The Dumbwaiter opening at Odyssey Studio, Sister Mary’s a Dyke gearing up to preview on the 25th of May, and Atrium Theatre bringing us Midlife Crisis, inspired by M.Frisch’s novel Gantenbein for three nights at the top of June.

No post tomorrow – it’s a holiday.  But I think Tuesday will bring the second post in what I feel like could be a sad, sad series entitled “Dear Rob.

A Play Reading and The Harold Awards!

What You’ve Got is What I Need

Infographics and an Article or Two. Maybe three.

To add to our content today, our intrepid Communications Coordinator Lisa has created the post below from a discussion we had on the Queen car westbound. I like the look of all these folks – they’ve been a pleasure to work with, and we’ll work together again.

When I arrived at 288 Queen Street for the Sister Mary production meeting, I didn’t expect to know anyone but Sue in the room. I left realizing just how small the Toronto theatre scene is. Here is a quick visual for some (this is in no way complete) of the connections we’ve had between shows at Sue Edworthy Arts Planning.

 It seems that every time I meet a new person in the theatre world I soon find that I know of their work, or have worked with someone they’ve worked with, or am friends with their friends. People often complain about this becoming claustrophobic or ‘incestuous’, but the reality is: people who do good work continue to work together.

 Reputations and relationships matter, and even in a city of 2.615 million people, amid competition and the feeling of anonymity, communities arise. Like-minded people come together to create. Talent is rewarded and shared and I think it’s important to keep this in mind… both as a warning and as a celebration.

Screen shot 2013-05-17 at 12.05.54 PM

May 17, 2013

Infographics and an Article or Two. Maybe three.

Quick Infographic on the Science of Pricing – things to think about while ticketing. No more dollar signs!

Excellent article here on website content, which technically can apply to all your marketing. From Paul Chato, we just finished working together on a Fringe poster, so it was nice to see this.

Another excellent blog post from Seth Godin – Who do You Know? Excellent thought here – “Connect with enough people and you can’t help but bump into something outside your worldview.”

I know. I know. It’s not here. I won’t post it. Check the Star for the articles you’re really looking for today – a Conservative trifecta in the politics of shame. In other news, at least the LCBO isn’t on strike. Have a great long weekend!


%d bloggers like this: