Contrary to what you might think, I don't know that many ballerinas.
In fact, Piper is the only ballerina I know. She's with the Lyric Ballet in Chicago and I know her because I knew her dad. And her dad knew marketing.
One day walking to lunch, he told me the problem with ballet.
"The problem with ballet," he told me, "is that men don't appreciate it. And when men don't appreciate it they don't go." That certainly rang true.
"Piper's work is very strenuous," he added. "If men knew how athletic ballet is, they'd love it."
Another one to put in my insight cabinet. I asked Piper's dad if I could use that someday and without flinching, he said sure. I plan to.
So if you happen to know of a dance company that can use a creative director who knows how to build strong audiences, call me immediately.
While my students of fashion marketing and advertising are dedicated to their crafts, I have to tell them they're really in the insight business.
It was an advertising writer's insight that young people like sweeter things, which is why they might like Pepsi more than Coke. That brought the Pepsi Generation to life.
It was the head of Starbucks who had the insight that Americans would appreciate the kind of cafes that there are in Italy, and certainly better coffee.
It was a Chicago ad person's insight that while original Gatorade didn't taste that good with a sandwich (unless you're hot and sweaty), people would like Gatorade with food if it came in other flavors.
The list goes on. Where do you get these insights? How do you know where your next insight is coming from? You have to dig for it. You have to be a detective, a psychologist, an anthropologist, and a poet. You have to refuse to accept the obvious. You have to love people, talk to them, take them seriously. You have to be part scientist, part romantic. If your competitors are zigging, you have to be willing to zag.
Insight-digging takes determination and a tuned ear. It's work.
After all, insights don't grow on trees. Unless, perhaps, you're the marketing director for a national forest.