“Will It Play in Peoria?”


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Not long ago one of my students used the phrase “Will it Play in Peoria?” during our classroom discussion. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard that statement, but every now and then it surfaces. For those of us who have a few miles under our belt (maybe traveling to Peoria!) you may remember that before marketing’s 4 P’s… before formal marketing strategies and advanced marketing technologies … “Will it Play in Peoria?” was a question with special meaning.

During the heyday of American vaudeville, the answer to that question determined whether a show would be a hit or a flop. The thinking was if it wasn’t acceptable to those in the heart of America’s heartland, there was no chance it would make it anywhere else in the country. If it didn’t receive a strong approval, one of two things usually happened: The production was rewritten, or it was canceled. With that, the phrase later became an association with an initial target area for testing new products, services, and even for gathering political viewpoints.

The September 2007 issue of INC. Magazine listed the 500 fastest-growing private companies in America. The Advertising & Marketing sector with 48 companies posted was second only to IT Services which totaled 55 companies. Total revenue of $1.14 billion was third highest trailing the Health sector’s $3.2 billion and Real Estate at $2.1 billion. All in all it’s encouraging to see the entrepreneurial enthusiasm associated with the marketing discipline.

The solutions offered by these companies span the marketing function and will certainly help invoke new future phrases/questions like:

Where specifically in Peoria does it play?
Why is it playing there?
When is it playing there?
Does it pay to play there?

I think you get my picture!

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  1. Alan, it would seem that the real questions are who is it playing to and what is their age, sex, ethic background, location, education level and so on. And the marketing companies will want this for their own use and to sell the information in various forms to various levels of analytic users from “amateurs” to “experts”. These users will want access to the original microdata to it will have to be confidentialized and they will want to create charts and graphs, and tabulations. The amateurs will want “due diligence” support so they don’t mix units of measure and total people and households for example.

    And they will want to see it all on Google Earth in an interesting mashup showing all the points of interest in Peoria.

    But Peoria it is!

  2. Great points Don,

    If you’ll allow; let’s see the play unfold. Native Peorian’s Jim and Marion Jordan created the famous “Fibber McGee and Molly” show. It was a half-hour program comprised of skits highlighting characters who would visit the McGee home at 79 Wistful Vista. Now, Fibber McGee and Molly were before my time. However; I’ll wager that those visiting characters actually had quit diverse backgrounds and interests … even in America’s heartland.

    So … if it will play in Peoria … will in stay in Peoria … or specially what part or segment or type of customer does it appeal? Why does it appeal? And, what’s the possible risk associated with the customer? That risk could be attrition … meaning they are showing signs that might indicate they are leaving for a competitor. Or perhaps credit risk. Maybe their credit risk is such that if they jumped to your competitor it might actually protect your profitability.

    And how about the ROI question … Will it Pay in Peoria?

    What customers should we invest in? What do our most profitable customers look like? How can we optimize our marketing mix to drive profitable growth? How do we analyze customer-related metrics and share that information throughout the organization?

    Playing …. Staying and Paying in Peoria!

    Alan See
    Blog: Welcome to Marketing 101


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