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Marketing lessons from PiPPIN

40 years ago this exciting new play, addressing the meaning of life’s journey, opened on Broadway. Ben Vereen won the Tony award, Bob Fosse took the award for Choreography but it was Irene Ryan in a scene stealing song who led my peer group to answers to life’s questions. We memorized all the songs long before our personal attendance record reached over a dozen performances.


History lessons not learned have a bad habit of repeating themselves and so I salute Diane Paulus for bringing to life a new interpretation of Pippin.

The Cast and Crew had been hanging out at the Kendall Hotel here in Kendall Square for a while now and I look forward to using the tickets we've purchased to renew my fortitude and introduce my son to a healthy dose of guidance from The Leading Player.
Yes, the modern business world is much like a three ring circus with players tramping through our good town of Cambridge, with innovators looking to disrupt lethargic business models every chance they get, and with Real Time Web imperatives making the business and career journey scary and treacherous. We all need some standards to turn to and so I thought I’d frame modern business issues within the context of some of Pippin’s most memorable lines. Here then are some choices King Charlemagne’s son faced in the play by Roger O Hirson with music and lyrics by Steven Schwartz (who also wrote Wicked):
*When you’re extraordinary you need to do extraordinary things:
Doctors lawyers print shops, florists, music stores, book writers, teachers, sandwich shops, entrepreneurs. We all know what they do. There’s not much differentiation from the outside. Look at MexiCali Burrito here in Kendall Square. They've got lots of competition from burrito purveyors in food trucks and box stores. Yet, talking to owner/founder Eric Quadrino 6 pm last night, I immediately see the differences. He greets regulars by name, showers customers with VIP treatment and provides surprise little treats for newcomers. Is the the food? the homemade tortilla chips? or the welcoming touches? He is visible and vocal about what makes him stand apart. What’s your business? Who’s your competition?

What do you do to stand out from the blandness?  I also think about my bank <sorry, no link, available to personalize it down to my branch>. Yes, my bank!  I look forward to cashing checks making deposits and yes, withdrawing money. I know I am going to have an extraordinary time there; from free umbrella loans on a rainy day to samples of the international cuisine (their internationally diverse employees in this branch have actually shared their home made lunches with us and my son and I are all about food and people). Carolyn, Marilyn, Michele, Marie, Kaltoum. I know all their names and can only smile as this fine group of ladies educated my son to how a bank functions and what savings bonds, business loans and checking accounts are all about. His generation knows very little about banks. They have provided the education - up close - and very personal.
*Don’t be the type who loses sleep over the size of the compost heap: 

Oh the business planning, legal documents, regulatory regalia and various other forms of government red tape. Life is happening in real time and as business becomes more social, businesses need to respond in real time. Have a plan, have a PR crisis process in place, then plunge in and engage.

*When your best days are yester, the rest are twice as dear

Everything new is bumped daily by newer, faster, better, at twice the speed as yesterday. Recognize that we all need to be life long learners. Do what you enjoy, share it with the world and not only will you never work another day in your life, but new clients will find you. Really they do.

*Before it’s too late, stop trying to wait for fortune and fame you’re secure of

If the digital native generation is teaching us anything - it's that "there's nothing to be sure of"  Explore, embrace change, engage in everything you do.

*Think about the beauty in one perfect flame
How far will you really go to be extraordinary? How far should you go?
*It’s time to start living
Take your cue from the song. This is no time to be mediocre. Time to take a little from this world you've been given. Like use the tools at your command. Look at how American Repertory Theater and Diane Paulus have set up their business communications   via their website. Engaged a real Circus Professional to raise the bar on "the players" and the play. Even allowed or encouraged one of the members of the cast to blog about her experiences as they occur in Real Time. You can read here about their  trip to the circus, and  trip to Cambridge MA.

This is no ordinary play
but it is about ordinary people.
Kendall Square is no ordinary place,
it is filled with some extraordinary people and institutions.

Welcome to Cambridge and Kendall Square,  PiPPIN !!

Though it looks like you're all set, we're glad to guide you around. Just give us a call.
In Fact, we'll send over a little calling card today- Welcome to our neighborhood.


*words by Stephen Schwartz and yes, I can still hear the tunes

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Filed Under: marketing, business communications
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