Learning marketing from some slugs
Every spring, I get to see a good example of targeted marketing and public relations up close and personal.
My brother-in-law, Doug Greenfield, and his Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Banana Slug String Band perform here in Ohio for hundreds of school children, teachers, outdoor educators and parents. They’ve made the Ohio stop for 14 consecutive years, thanks to a “brand evangelist” named Cinda who lines up a week’s worth of shows at schools. The week culminates with an outdoor festival featuring the Slugs.
This year, the band also performed in a small Michigan town near Toledo. The community heard about the Slugs through a national library association.
And they did shows in Cincinnati for a private school — arranged by my wife and a friend who teaches there — and to a group of disadvantaged youth at an event at a local nature center.
Doug, an Ohio University graduate who moved to Santa Cruz after graduating from college, has made his living through the Slugs for more than two decades. (By the way, Banana Slugs are slimy creatures found in the Redwood forest.) He serves as co-business manager.
The band teaches kids about the environment and earth science. It plays rocking music that delights kids and parents alike. Band members dress in costumes. They use puppets, squirt bottles…. They get kids involved in songs. Lyrics teach the youngsters about earth science in a fun way.
The Slugs have CDs, DVDs, a book, a curriculum for teachers… They rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing from satisfied customers. They get the word out through conferences for outdoor educators. They’ve got a website.
Even with the economic slowdown, they’re as busy as ever. They’ve got a CD in the works with a possible appearance by a nationally known musician who believes in their cause.
As I write this, they’re boarding a flight for a trip back to California. But they’ll be back in the Midwest next month, performing at a YMCA camp’s 100th anniversary.
The Banana Slugs marketing machine keeps on rollin’, or — I guess — slithering along.