Many companies these days push to be of the “newer, better, sexier, cooler,” boundary-breaking sort.
On the other end of the spectrum are the veterans, who have been in their industries for years. Their particular draw is the appeal of guaranteed performance, an established track record of professionalism, and a history of a devoted fan base.
How do veteran companies stand out in a world concentrating on the bigger, better, faster new thing?
In a word – heritage marketing.
Heritage marketing is the development of NOT talking about how new or forward-thinking you are; rather, it’s the concept of setting yourself apart from your competition by promoting your history as a reliable, trusted brand. It establishes you / your company as one that can deliver a quality product that is reliable and isn’t a fly-by-night operation, with a history of happy customers / fans / producers / co-stars.
Of course, you’ll always run into those consumers (usually the young and hip) who want nothing more than the latest and greatest. But consumers who know what they want, because of years of life experience, oftentimes prefer a product made by a reputable company they trust. The same goes for retail – even if it might be a new product, they trust the store they’ve been going to for years. Coca-Cola tried this and failed famously with their “New Coke” campaign. No one wanted a new version of something they loved and trusted.
Heritage is something that new companies want but can’t have right away – they want that loyal following. For companies that have been around a while, showcasing their history in the industry is tantamount to comfort, trust, and long-term allegiance. If you’re a company that has any sort of history, flaunt it to the masses as part of your marketing strategy!
And what if you are a new company? Perhaps you can showcase your history in other aspects of life that brought you to the development of your new company or line. Do you have a founder who has been in another industry with any level of success? Do you have a performer / director / company attached to your product that can help gain credibility? What background can you bring that can help build the trust of the new consumer? Highlight all of these and you’re sure to gain the interest of both buyers and consumers.
Performers – at a certain point in your career, you’re all going to fall into that unfortunate “breaking point” – where you aren’t working as much as you used to because you’re no longer the new girl, but you haven’t been in the industry long enough for anyone to consider you a veteran. Many decide at this point to quit, after months of agonizing over why they’re not being hired (unless you made yourself completely unhirable by doing drugs, showing up late / high / drunk, or doing any number of other displays of unprofessional behavior). What to do, though, if you really truly don’t want to quit your time in the industry? Answer: don’t be a one-trick pony! Use your experience as a performer to develop new directions, and use your non-performer experience to develop your own heritage! What makes your brain juices flow. Politics? Music? Comedy? Writing? Interviews? Fashion? Work on whatever makes you passionate, and incorporate what you’ve learned from your time in the industry. You can use your “heritage” as a performer in a way that isn’t negative. Show that you’re not just a pretty face! You’ll find that most entertainment legends have all branched out into other things, and performing becomes secondary yet something that fuels their passion. But you’ll also find that many of them still do use their tenure in the industry to fuel their standing in their new direction.
In an industry that focuses on the younger, 18-25 talent pool, particularly for women, it’s always important to remember that everyone gets older. But using your heritage – whether you’re a performer or a company – to cater to the people that prefer something/someone they know and trust, should help you find that you’re not quite as “disposable” as the entertainment industry might make you think or feel.