The Alamo Drafthouse, pretty much the coolest movie theatre chain on the planet, came out with the following promotion for the summer of 2012:

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Yup.  That’s pretty much PURE GENIUS.

They aren’t playing up the tangibles of the movie business — the latest release, the availability of 3-D IMAX or dolby sound, or say the comfort of ultra-plush seating — they’re tapping into the intangible draw that many or most 40 and 50-somethings have for the pop-culture milestones of their youth.  

As a result of this emotional draw that they purposely tapped into, Alamo Drafthouse will likely pay less to show these movies and draw large crowds of very appreciative, excited audiences — crowds that likely wouldn’t have come out for the latest and greatest summer blockbuster fare.

Why Not Your Business?

Sure, The Alamo Drafthouse is IN the entertainment business. It’s probably easier for them to generate excitement around a night out at the movies than it might be for, say, a plumber to tap into the power of nostalgia. But it’s not impossible for the plumber. How about selling claw-foot tubs big enough to let a 6-foot adult stretch out and float, the way you used to be able to when you were a little kid?  Sort of a feel like a kid again, bathtub for the affluent type promotion…

Maybe you’re rejecting that specific idea, and that’s fine, the point isn’t that that’s a great idea, but that it’s possible for most businesses to inject an element of sentiment and nostalgia and excitement into their business rather than resigning themselves to pushing nothing but tangibles.

Because when you’re nothing but tangibles, you’re a commodity, or on the road to commodity-ville. 

So ask yourself this:

  • What are your customers willing to re-call, commemorate, and celebrate with you?
  • How can you help them do that?
  • What kind of anniversary or connection or historical association could you choose to celebrate?

Most importantly, how could YOU use nostalgia and sentiment in your business?


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