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Knowing Your Audience Makes All The Difference

"Why didn't we go see Eminem?" one might have asked. On Veteran's Day here in Washington, DC, there was a massive concert downtown, every name-brand singer under the sun.
But I wanted to be right where we were: the "Tribute to America's Veterans Concert" the Silver Spring Town Center. Because Lisa Martin, executive director and the organizer of the event, focused her efforts brilliantly.
It wasn't about the music. It was about making a meaningful, enjoyable and appropriate gathering for locals to celebrate and learn.
What made this event masterful was Martin's focus on who would be attending, that is Matures and Baby Boomers. She aimed principally to make the event work for this crowd. That is:
  • Personalized confirmations that we had seats - from her and not an assistant.
  • Multiple accessible entryways and wide aisles in the concert area.
  • Tasteful food artfully displayed, white wine and hors d'oeuvres.
  • Talks by diverse veterans and their children. There was not a sound as one woman told us how her father was completely molded by World War II. "He taught us order and respect," she said, "literally, 'no rotten apples in our backyard.'"
  • Music that spoke to the '60s and '70s.
  • Welcoming, non-overwhelming open areas to encourage even the older and less limber among us to dance.
There was one other special feature of the event, also one Martin must have known would be appealing: unveiling a bright new talent in the world of music. Her name is Vanny, she is 17 years old, and she sings with the soul of a much older and more mature person.
Remember Bob Marley's "Buffalo Soldier?"
Here she is singing The Jackson Five's "I Want You Back":
Vanny sidled onstage so humble and unassuming. I almost didn't believe she was "the talent." And then she took out her guitar, and flipped through several sheets of music, and broke into song.
I went totally nuts when she did "Lean On Me":
...and of course the rest of us sung along.
It was beautiful to witness history last night. To be a witness, for people who came home from Vietnam and weren't treated as well as they should have been. To honor them decades later and say, you know what, you did that for us and we are grateful.
To witness the birth of a new age, new thinking, new talent.
It was a beautiful event because of the masterful planning and focus of one marketer.
Dannielle Blumenthal is a seasoned communications professional with nearly two decades of progressive, varied experience in the public sector, private sector, and academia as well as her own independent, freelance sole proprietorship. This blog is written in her personal capacity. The opinions expressed here are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the National Archives and Records Administration, or the United States government. Screenshot is from the event flyer.

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