How might the Steinway company’s promotional materials help your marketing? Let’s find out. Here’s to the Steinway manifesto and . . . YOU.
I have a page torn from the Steinway catalog. It’s the company’s manifesto. I can’t remember how I came by this. I couldn’t find the manifesto online but was able to find excerpts of it in the Steinway social feeds. The manifesto is several years old and doesn’t reflect their current marketing efforts.
Still, it’s a useful case study. And it’s bugged me that I’ve held on to this page for years and never written about it.
Here’s how the manifesto reads:
“Handcrafted in a machine-made universe. Exacting to the millimeter in a ‘close enough’ culture. Built of genuine hardwood and cast iron in a world of artificiality.
For over 160 years STEINWAY has been making instruments so passionately conceived and meticulously crafted, it can take dozens of artisans with decades of experience twelve months to create . . . one.
To enable a sound so rich and resonant and deep and unmistakably STEINWAY that once you’ve experienced it, anything less than these unreasonable standards becomes unacceptable.
To make STEINWAY the only piano built to perfection for perfectionists, by artisans for artists.
To merge precision & passion, experience & expression, power & elation, artist & audience.
Until effort becomes effortless, and weight becomes weightless . . .
and it’s possible for you to close your eyes and soar!”
WOW: Let’s analyze this to find ideas you can use in your own marketing material. Consider . . .
What’s necessary in any good piece of marketing?
First, you need clarity about who the product or service is FOR. Who is this marketing piece aimed at? The Steinway manifesto isn’t trying to appeal to everyone who needs a piano. It’s clear they’re offering this to a particular customer segment.
Be direct and specific. Don’t try to appeal to everybody—be particular about your niche offering. In your marketing materials don’t use generic phrases like “for audiences of all ages we have concert programs that cross all genres and appeal to everybody” That’s unconvincing and unappealing. Pick your lane and go deep.
The manifesto above speaks to more than the practical need of the user. It addresses the intangible aspects and perceived value as well. In this case, beyond a damn good instrument, there’s the status of owning a Steinway. And there’s the unexpressed human yearning for something more.
What’s it really FOR?
Yes, the customer wants a piano, but Steinway is saying that along with the physical instrument customers will be welcomed into an elite tribe of connoisseurs. They will be exalted, and set apart from the machine-made, artificial universe and the “close enough” culture.
Customers will have access to a distinct sound that makes all others unacceptable. In other words, there’s status in owning a Steinway. You can be the proud owner of an icon of meticulous craftsmanship that takes a year to create.
But all that’s just the set up, the foundation to deliver the last four lines of the manifesto. There’s an ineffable desire here that’s being addressed.
What’s the promise behind the Steinway Manifesto?
It’s this last segment of the text that speaks to what the prospective customer wants most: to be acknowledged as a discerning perfectionist and artist.
The manifesto subtly implies that when you own a Steinway you merge these alliterated pairs. It’s as though the instrument itself will confer these qualities on its owner:
precision & passion
experience & expression
power & elation
artist & audience
The implied magical thinking here is that if you were to own and play the instrument these merged qualities would transform you so that in your performances . . .
effort would becomes effortless, and weight would be weightless . . . and you and our audience could “close your eyes and soar!”
WOW: Some copywriting is better than sex! That’s how good the promise is here: the description of a transcendent artistic experience.
But what does this mean for your own marketing?
First, don’t try to copy this or work this approach into your materials: that’s a big mistake. This “highfalutin” poetic language isn’t going to work in your bios, email pitches, or concert invitations.
But the thinking behind it will.
The Steinway marketing team knows for sure who they are talking to and you also need to know who your marketing is aimed at.
Whether it’s the concert presenter you’re pitching to or the potential “dream” student you hope to attract.
Get super clear on who your audience is and what they want.
If you’re writing a pitch to a concert presenter, find out about their community. Read up on their online programming and what they offered pre-Covid.
Read between the lines to understand the experience they are looking to curate for their audience now. Think through what the presenter’s needs are and how your specific online programming might fit.
To be clear, it’s NEVER simply that the presenter needs concerts to offer, right? It’s not simply a dynamic program played really well. Because they have their pick of hundreds of musicians who could do that.
Same thing if you are promoting your teaching studio. Your prospective students have a gazillion options now for online teachers, so get specific.
Think what your ideal “customer’s” unstated needs are and how you can address these.
HINT: Most presenters these days are looking for performers who can actively engage listeners through their commentary and conversation as part of their online performances. They’re looking for artists who can design concerts that help audiences feel connected and a sense of belonging in the community of the concert experience itself.
HINT: Music students (and their parents) are looking for teachers who likewise can deliver more than a weekly lesson experience. How can you provide a deeper experience that is more relevant and centering in our distracted world? What aspects of your teaching are your students especially thankful for now and are these articulated in your marketing material?
If you’d like to get expert coaching so you can bring more of your best work into the world, let’s talk.
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