What a chance encounter with Stevie Wonder taught me about marketing

Stevie Wonder is a legend, there’s no disputing that. But the one time I saw him live taught me something that is so important in marketing.

It was the late 90s and I was in Florida producing a radio show at Walt Disney World Resort… nice work if you can get it!

The special media event came with some surprises including a live performance from Pat Benetar on a descending platform outside the Virgin Megastore; and a free concert from Stevie Wonder.

I’d grown up with his superb tracks like Superstition and Master Blaster; and being a lover of all things 80s, I even regard the eternally cheesy I Just Called to Say I Love You as a classic.

So, as you can imagine, hearing that Stevie was performing while we were at Disney was amazing news.

Here comes the lesson

The evening of the concert arrived and running late I rushed to the auditorium having missed a chunk of Stevie’s set.

To my disappointment, what I heard was not one of his greatest hits, but some weird jazz stuff that (to me) didn’t sound good at all.

I stayed for a while, hoping to hear the first unmistakable notes of Sir Duke or even – a long shot I know – a guest appearance from Sir Paul McCartney for an emotional rendition of Ebony and Ivory.

It wasn’t to be. Stevie carried on with his jazz indulgence for what seemed an eternity.

OK, so I can still say I saw Stevie Wonder live. And he is a big enough artist to do what the hell he wants. But for me, he failed to meet my expectations.

What are your ‘greatest hits’

The point is, when it comes to delivering on your marketing, give the people what they want.

If you won’t budge from your sales messages and give your customers (and potential customers) things that benefit them, they will be disappointed.

They might not give up using your business – as I have not stopped loving Stevie Wonder’s well-deserved hits – but they may ‘walk out’ of your marketing, meaning you waste your time and money.

Think about the things your business does well – your ‘greatest hits’ – and use your marketing to show how they are relevant to your target audience.