Members of the MKT team recently had the chance to watch the largest and most creative travelling show in the world – Cirque du Soleil. Like most Calgarians, we were floored by the acrobatic wizardry of their latest show, Kurios.
As we walked into the sprawling tent village, which takes up an impressive amount of real estate inside Stampede Park, we were transported from a sterile concrete concourse into a kaleidoscope of colour and sound. The tent came alive with flashing lights, pulsing music and outrageous characters who whirled, twirled and flew through the air with gravity-defying precision and grace.
The show was mind-blowing, but our admiration goes far beyond what we saw onstage. Cirque du Soleil has it nailed when it comes to marketing, too. This company is perpetually in motion – moving from city to city and country to country all year long – with no time to rest on its laurels and no room for error. From setup to takedown and all points in between, each show commands intense preparation, attention to detail and a great deal of good faith and loyalty within the Cirque team.
The flawless performance we saw that day is a potent reminder that every business can build a successful brand by incorporating the same kind of simple strategies Cirque de Soleil adopted to build a prestigious entertainment empire. Here are some of the marketing insights we brought back to our office after the show:
1. Be Creative: This one may seem obvious, but with all the marketing choices available out there, many companies get so caught up aiming for targets, they get mired in the details and overlook the most important part – the idea. The Kurios storyline centres around an inventor who makes the impossible possible. With this in mind, characters were developed, costumes were created, performers were brought in and all the other details followed with ease. Creativity is what differentiates your marketing efforts from those of your competitors – just see how it’s worked for Cirque!
2. Anything is Possible: Have a great idea but think there’s no way you can make it a reality? Once you’ve seen a show like Cirque, that notion will seem downright silly. Kurios took an idea, a dream even, and made it real. Not easy, exactly, but then nothing of quality ever is. Cirque’s shows aren’t just thrown together – they rely on a dedicated team of creative minds, technicians, performers, transporters, costume designers and countless others to work in harmony. You and your team can make anything possible too!
3. Teamwork is Essential: It takes hundreds of people working in unison to make a show like Kurios a success. While you don’t need a small army to make yours thrive, you do need people who can work as a team. Do Cirque performers think they’re more important than the lighting techs? It certainly doesn’t seem so. Without performers, there would be no need for lighting. Without lighting, who could see the performers? Without truck drivers, the show would not exist. The same is true of marketing. Egos need to be checked at the door because in the end, you’re nothing without your team.
4. Attention to Detail is Crucial: In marketing, just as in Kurios, every detail counts. You can have a great idea and follow through with a solid team, but if you are sloppy elsewhere, it automatically devalues your product or service, and your reputation. In Kurios, even the stagehands wear costumes. Likewise, while a major performer is doing a seemingly impossible performance, others in the show are interacting elsewhere onstage. Kurios knows how to keep our eyes glued to the show, not the light tech perched near the ceiling. Take the time to ensure all the details are covered in your marketing materials. Dot the i’s and cross the t’s. If something isn’t quite right, change it. It may be more time-consuming, but trust Kurios – the effort pays off in the end.
5. Less Can Be More: Kurios is a huge company. It spends a fortune on lighting, visuals, costumes and travel, but one segment of the show is so simple it’s brilliant – it’s a low-tech display using three just hands, a light and a camera. While a camera films, the hands go on little adventures that are reflected onto the big screen, and you are quickly caught up in the story. Today we see a lot of flash in marketing – glitzy advertisements or paid promotions – but often the most effective campaigns are the simplest. Don’t overthink your product or service. Take a step back and consider how others perceive it, or how you want them to perceive it. Go with your instincts.
6. Involve People: Would you rather sit in a lecture, or enjoy a conversation? We’ll take the latter, and most people would say the same. Kurios engages the audience from start to finish. Most Cirque shows even bring audience members into the story. This is just as important in marketing. Involve your audience, engage them. By interacting with you, they will not forget your brand.
7. Inspire Others: We’re all together in this world, and it’s up to us to make the difference. Kurios inspires the audience to believe the impossible is possible, that imagination is limitless and dreams do come true. Stay true to this notion in your marketing, too. Inspire others to do the best they can, simply by doing it yourself.