Marketing/know your audience

About a year ago I was in a business class sponsored by the SBA with a bunch of other established small business owners. There were a lot of contractors and consultants and a few other manufacturers.  One week our assignment was to bring in our marketing materials for the class to critique, and rate.  I was sooooo sure I was gonna take the prize on this one, at DiPinto Guitars we have glossy catalogs, stickers, postcards, a pretty groovy website. We got picks and t-shirts and posters.  All of which I design and implement.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Not only did I not get in the top 3 spots, I got roundly criticised, mostly for this:












OK, so I forget that sometimes that not everyone has a sense of irony…?  You guys get it, right? (answer in the comments section)

I have to say I was surprised how the room turned on me; it was “mean and spiteful”, “lack of color made it look to simplistic”, “it wasn’t a direct call to action”, “doesn’t really advertise anything” and so on.  I think it’s funny, and I think it does advertise something.

I’m not saying my classmates were wrong, but perhaps they didn’t give me the befit of the doubt on knowing what message our audience would be receptive to.  There’s something about this campaign that only speaks to those who are already clued in.


My co-worker, Brian  has said once or twice that if you remember the 90’s you weren’t there.  Not entirely true, I remember bits and pieces of it. Like that time Chris and I went to see Big Chief at the Troc and this band no one ever heard of, Stone Temple Pilots, opened up. Chris even remembers the guitar  player falling on his ass on stage.

But I must have noticed some other stuff too. Like this:





and this:





All of this obviously made an impression on me, and it obviously stuck too. So, I’m hoping you all think like me and this message will stick with you.  And don’t forget to pick up a button and some posters when you stop by the shop.








See, irony. It’s funny.

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10 Responses to Marketing/know your audience

  1. davin says:

    I’m a huge fan of your guitars and I also believe they pretty much sell themselves. I saw your “corporate guitars still suck” after I bought my Di Pinto and it only made me more proud to own one.
    I’m a designer in a marketing job myself and personally I really like your design and message and think you did a great job, in fact simple black and white design is coming back and growing more popular. take the new NETS identity for example.

    anyhow. great marketing, amazing guitars. I’m a little jealous of your job. I’d love a catalog and sticker. do you guys mail those out?

  2. Phil Henzig says:

    Hi, While I think the buttons may offend some I think your customers are looking for a different type of instrument out of the norm and maybe have a different sense of humor which your instruments also exhibit . A friend of mine describes my pink Sparkle Galaxie as a cartoon guitar his meaning is a guitar were everything is exaggerated to the limit , just like the Los Straitjackets ,I tell some of my friends about them ,play some tunes by them they just don’t get it . They think its strange, weird and bizarre . I however enjoy the great music, their humor , to me its a just plain fun almost like a friend said Blue Man Group meets Guitar music ,super hero characters ,fun! A lot of them do get it and we all have a great time at their show .So anyway I think just like Ricky Nelson said ,You can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself,and in your case Know your audience for marketing !

  3. Matt Mungan says:

    Fuck your class mates. They don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s genius. However, your co-workers comment on the 90s has been said, more appropriately, of certain previous decades.

  4. Tracy says:

    Yeah, they weren’t getting it.

    We get it, Sophy! 🙂

  5. Joe McIntyre says:

    Tell your classmates their intellectuals in reverse. They probably don’t get that either. I think the marketing is brilliant! That’s why we come !! Keep up the good fight!

  6. sophy says:

    I was re reading this post and I realized I made it sound like I build and design the whole website-which I don’t. The site is built and maintained by the wonderful folks over at Yikes, just down the street from us

    and especially Tracy Levesque, who also got my gravitar to work. Thanks Tracy!!!

  7. Frank says:

    I had a similar experience in a management class at a local college, most of the classmates were public employee’s (stateworkers we call them in Albany, NY). Another person and myself were the only ones in manufacturing, the class and professor didn’t get it when we explained pay the employees a fair wage and you’ll get the job done, not this BS of meeting their higher level needs. They didn’t get some people want a job, and to be paid fairly for an honest days work.

    Love the instruments you folks make and the marketing advertising, and I agree corporate guitars still suck….. I get it, keep doing what you do.

  8. Dan says:

    I’ve always loved the design and message of DiPinto’s swag. I think your classmates were probably put off by the call-back to the anti-establishment messages of the underground, DIY music outlets of the 80s and 90s because they can’t get away with it when marketing their own more mainstream products and services. It’s a bold statement, sure, and those who agree are going to be drawn to your brand. And it does have a call to action: “Play DiPinto”.

    And to their comments about how it’s in black-and-white: It was and still remains cheaper to produce a sticker/poster/t-shirt/etc. in black and white than in colors. If you’re a business that doesn’t have an astronomical marketing materials budget, you’ve got to work in your limitations. And you guys have done so beautifully.

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