For 30 years, the Celebration of Fine Art has connected art lovers with artists by hosting a 10-week art show in Scottsdale under what has become known as CFA’s “big white tents.” The show brings together 100 juried artists who work in a variety of mediums and set up temporary studios inside the tent in order to engage with collectors as they create new pieces.
The COVID-19 pandemic cut short CFA’s 2020 show, which begins every year in January and runs through March. Gatherings were suspended, which led to travel restrictions and local quarantine periods. In order to recoup lost revenue and prepare for a 2021 show that may still face similar social distancing restrictions, CFA had to meet collectors where they were — at home. As an in-person event for its entire existence, CFA needed a strategy to determine which avenues to use to reach a new audience in a new era.
As an iconic event that leveraged the in-person connections attendees could make with artists, CFA had long considered developing an online marketplace where collectors and artists could connect at any hour of the day, during any season. The pandemic, and the impact it had on business, inspired CFA to implement that vision. An Avenues Plan, guided by WHYFOR’s proprietary L.A.B.S. process, allowed CFA to see which audiences it would be targeting with its new platform and understand how to reach them.
Because the online art-buying world is different than the in-person one. Different audiences use different avenues.
The creative concept:
Since branding remained consistent, WHYFOR worked with CFA to build its marketplace as an integrated experience on its current website. When creating the shop, WHYFOR was mindful of keeping it user friendly and artist friendly, since CFA wasn’t sure how many artists would participate in the online version — especially if the process was complicated.
This marketplace was to be an extension of the premium in-person experience people have come to know and it would also act as a gateway for new audiences experiencing CFA for the first time, which meant every detail was crucial.
The aha moment
After WHYFOR completed a thorough analysis of CFA’s in-person and online audiences, it finalized an Avenues Plan that dovetailed with CFA’s content marketing plan. In addition, WHYFOR helped CFA manage artist relations by crafting an email campaign, developing painstakingly detailed instructions on how to create a virtual storefront and producing video tutorials to complement those written instructions.
The end product? An easy-to-navigate online marketplace that allows artists to create individual storefronts and collectors from around the globe to browse and buy at any hour of the day.
Knowing the participation of its existing artist base was crucial for the success of its new e-commerce presence, CFA aimed to have 60 artists integrated into the platform by the time it launched, just after Thanksgiving in 2020. Coordinated external communications in print, digital, email and across social channels aided awareness for the launch effort.
How’d it go? It almost seemed like the artists, and the collectors, were waiting for something like this.
A braid is only a braid if each of its three sections are woven together just right. If one section is off, you can see it — you can even feel it. We didn’t expect to compare WHYFOR’s proprietary L.A.B.S. branding process to a bohemian hairstyle, but here we are.
The Avenues Plan, the third section of hair for that beautiful rhetorical braid, brings all of our branding work home because it weaves together the intel we gained from our Anatomy Profile and our Audience Personas. By now, we understand a brand’s DNA and we know who it wants to talk to. The Avenues Plan strategizes the route.
It’s exactly what we did for the Celebration of Fine Art, a juried, 10-week art show in Scottsdale celebrating its 31st year of connecting art lovers with artists as they work. For 30 years, CFA hosted thousands of artists and welcomed tens of thousands of collectors who would gather under white tents and witness the creative process, live.
A global pandemic prompted a new approach, as gatherings were limited and social interactions needed to be distanced. CFA would continue as it always had, while following suggested guidelines, but it needed to reach out to a new audience — one that felt at home collecting art online — in order to sustain the annual show and expand its influence in the art community.
So, we went to work creating an online marketplace, an integrated shop CFA had long considered but had realized was now necessary for future success. We researched what that audience looked like, what it liked, how it engaged and purchased, and we built a platform that met that audience exactly where it was.
Because the online art-buying world is different than the in-person one. Different audiences use different avenues.
WHYFOR’s Avenues Plan dovetailed with CFA’s content marketing plan for maximum exposure, included artist relations to recruit the show’s participants to create shops online, and involved the development of tutorials and instructions that detailed how to build those shops. All of it came together on an expedited timeline, too, so the marketplace could launch during 2020’s holiday shopping season.
So, how did it go? Pretty great.
After coordinating messaging that announced the launch of CFA’s new online store across print, digital, email and social channels, artists and collectors responded in a way that helped WHYFOR and CFA exceed the goals that were established before the launch.
Half of our team at WHYFOR has recently made their mark on history. That’s a bold statement, we know. More than a statement, it’s been a bold effort. And more than being bold, every effort was honest and heartfelt and moving and rewarding.
That’s what you come away with after volunteering at a mass vaccination clinic — set up in response to a crippling and lethal global pandemic.
Yeah, we have work to do. We have websites to design, banner ads to build and meetings to take. We have projects, some that push us to squeeze in a little extra time after 5 or before 9. This wasn’t because we had time to fill.
It was because helping the people in our community who need it most just seemed like a bigger priority. So, when time slots were assigned to WHYFOR team members, it just happened. What’s one day, anyway, if it means you’re helping to save lives?
For perspective, none of our client work is deadly. But a pandemic is.
And what did WHYFOR see and experience while volunteering at the clinics, an effort that completely aligned with our values as a brand? A range of emotions, including a sense of gratitude for being part of a professional team that values humanity in a way that goes beyond just saying it — but by doing it.
“I lost it.”
That’s what one of us said after seeing an elderly couple come through the line, holding hands, eyes glossed over with tears, saying they were excited to see their grandkids again.
“That was really special.”
That’s how one of us felt after seeing people who were old enough to qualify for a vaccine arrive at the clinic without an appointment, but — with the help of volunteers — properly register on site and receive their vaccination.
“We had people lining up in cars, registering, so we didn’t have to throw any (vaccines) out.”
This is what one of us experienced early on, when things were still confusing and people were still figuring out how to register. This same team member started driving elderly friends and neighbors to receive their vaccinations and later reported:
“Now, you’re in and out in 15 minutes.”
And then there was this, thoughts from WHYFOR’s main man, to all of us after he volunteered. We aren’t a pomp and circumstance people at WHYFOR. We’re more of a “hey, this is cool” nonchalant-type people, which means we all did this history-making volunteer thing on our own.
No company mandate. No heavy suggestions. Nothing. It’s just built into our culture that if something is important to you, as an individual, do it. Being part of this moment in history was one of those important things that needed zero explanation, even when it’s during a workday.
“I do encourage (if you can and if you want) everyone to consider volunteering so you too can experience the joy, hope, thankfulness, love, support and connection. Don’t hesitate to use work time if you are interested.”
News outlets have reported that more than 85,000 volunteer hours have been accrued at just one of the Valley’s vaccination sites. It’s cool that WHYFOR logged some of those.
And of the 1 million vaccinations administered in Arizona as of early February? Half of our team had a hand in that. Not in giving the shots — because we’re good, but not that good. But, you know, in getting people there.
So, we’re quietly proud over here. But also filled with gratitude. It’s a privilege to be able to help, and it’s also one to be able to see, feel and experience brand values with zero effort. It’s just who we are.
The word “audience” can be deceiving, especially when it comes to branding. Audiences, in general, are made up of dozens, hundreds — and if you’re the chart-topping pop star of the moment — thousands of people in one place.
At WHYFOR, we narrow audiences down in a strategic way. We hone in on a target, examine a particular slice and build an informed, research-based marketing plan around individual types of audience members. We talked about the process recently by explaining our work with innovaTel, a national telepsychiatry provider that partners with community organizations to improve access to care.
But, hearing from innovaTel directly might better explain the experience, its benefits and how the work can be used once it’s completed. Lauren Lashbrook, innovaTel’s director of strategic partnerships, reflected on the Audience Personas process.
And, full disclosure, we’re blushing a bit.
Q: Where were you, as a brand, before beginning the Audience Persona process with WHYFOR?
A: Prior to the Audience Persona process with WHYFOR, we had not done any formal brand work with an agency partner. We had done all of our marketing in house and made some updates over the years to evolve our brand with the industry, but had not done any persona-specific work.
Q: Why did you feel it was important to go through this process?
A: As our company has grown and evolved, we have really made a name for ourselves in our industry; however, we really wanted to take our brand to the next level. We are known for our clinical excellence and wanted all of our marketing and branding to align with that clinical excellence.
Q: What struck you about the process?
A: I had met with a number of agencies prior to working with WHYFOR and was really looking for a partner that understood our business model, target markets and, most importantly, our mission as much as we did. After handling all of our marketing internally, it was a bit intimidating to look for an outside partner because we’re so close to our business model and, to that point, we had been the experts at what we do, day in and day out. I was worried that there may be a disconnect, but that was not the case at all with WHYFOR. They proved that right away to us. It was clear that they understood our business model and many times I found that the WHYFOR team was completing my sentences and often joke that they are reading my thoughts. I truly feel that WHYFOR is an extension of my team, not an outside agency.
Q: Do you recall gaining new insights about the audiences you’re speaking to as a result of the persona research?
A: Absolutely! Taking such a deep dive into our audiences was incredibly valuable. The WHYFOR team spent a tremendous amount of time understanding the pain points of each of our audiences, and by doing this work on the front end, it allowed us to use this persona research to craft all of our marketing messaging specific to each individual audience. All of our partnerships are customizable and much of our success has been due to the fact that we really do understand the pain points of our customers. Through our work with WHYFOR, our marketing and branding now truly paint the picture of how and why we do this work.
Q: What did you think of the end product?
A: It was fantastic! The end product really gave us a playbook for our marketing strategy. We know our customers inside and out; however, our marketing didn’t necessarily reflect that and now that work that we have done together helped us shape our entire marketing strategy for this year.
Q: How do you plan to use this analysis?
A: It really gave us a roadmap for our entire marketing strategy. It was also very helpful to share with our entire team, our board and then also new hires, specifically on the sales and marketing side.
Q: Have you seen its benefits, yet? If so, how?
A: Absolutely! We use this as a working document for all of our marketing and sales strategy planning. This was a fundamental tool in updating our website and all of our marketing content. Our industry is not a one-size-fits-all landscape, and by deeply understanding our personas and target markets, our marketing will now reflect the pain points and relevant solutions that we can offer our customers through our partnerships.
I also used this tool for new sales representatives we brought on board so they can really understand our DNA and the pain points of our target customers and how our solutions uniquely align with their needs.
WHYFOR can do the same for you. Let’s see how our Audience Persona work can benefit you.
When we talk about “audience work,” that might sound vague. It might conjure a scene of someone tapping a hot mic, tossing out jokes, trying to warm up a studio full of fans awaiting a headliner.
We’re not talking about an opening act. We’re talking about targeted outreach informed by an in-depth analysis of who a specific brand or organization is trying to reach. There’s a big difference.
Much like opening acts like to tailor their set to the type of audience that appreciates the headliner (think: skip the ballads for the headbanging crowd), brands need to tailor their messaging to speak to the challenges, pain points and solutions their audiences are experiencing. This gets to the heart of WHYFOR’s Audience Personas.
It’s how innovaTel, a national telepsychiatry provider that partners with community-based organizations to improve access to care, better understands Bob.
And who’s Bob? He’s a composite character we developed during our Audience Persona process to help us, and innovaTel, get a better picture of what matters to someone managing a community mental health center.
And we didn’t just pluck him out of thin air. That’s what magicians do. Instead, we determined target audiences during a thorough workshop with innovaTel and gathered intel through a series of validation interviews from other Bob-types — none of whom were named Bob — to understand the pressures, goals and opportunities a professional in this field faces when trying to deliver care and improve outcomes for patients.
It was during those interviews that we discovered how Bob likes to receive information, what type of information he’s interested in receiving and how the information helps him, and other decision makers on his team, move forward with a new partner. Every Bob is different, but we were still able to see themes emerge that allowed us to create an illustration of a valuable audience specific to innovaTel.
And for innovaTel, we went through the same process with two other audiences because we understand the importance of nuance.
With those characters outlined, and then colored in thanks to first-party research, innovaTel came away from our Audience Persona work with a more informed visual of exactly who they’re talking to, and exactly how they should approach each of the audiences they’re trying to reach.
Like magic. Or an opening act that makes sure it knows who it’s playing to.
How well do you know your brand’s audience? Let us introduce you to Audience Personas.
You can’t see me right now, but I’m starting a slow clap. Because it’s exciting to see brands that are daring enough, even during “unprecedented” times, to tackle a marketing landscape that has become so tricky it has scared the gnarly, big dogs from the yard.
I’m talking about the Big Game. Specifically, brands like Chipotle, Mercari and Fiverr. Those Big Game newcomers are seizing an opportunity to have millions of eyes on them for 30 whole seconds for the low-low price of $5.5 million, despite the “let’s-walk-on-eggshells” energy out there right now.
But, more importantly, those guys have a firm grip on who they are. That’s why they can afford to dive into this thing as soda and beer kingpins opt for the sidelines. For the record, we’re cool with Bud sitting out since they’re funding vaccines and all, but what has you so scared, Coke? I’d be more spooked about staying on the bench — looking at you, Pepsi.
Why? Because the companies that don’t take their foot off the gas during recessions score — pun somewhat intended. Statistics show brands that lean in and push ahead with growth and investment experience 277% more growth than brands that pull back.
That’s why $5.5 million, if you’ve got it, is the easiest decision ever. It’s impossible to argue with that kind of success.
Yes, Chipotle — spend that cash! Because I’ve seen what happens when companies decide to double-down during economic downturns instead of sitting in a bunker and waiting for the storm of the moment to pass.
But let me be clear — as a fiscally responsible branding veteran, I’m not advocating for companies to start throwing cash around that they don’t have. There’s strategy in everything, and it all begins with authenticity, which by its very nature can’t be engineered.
The CEO of Mercari, an online marketplace advertising in the Big Game for the first time this year, totally gets what I’m saying, and I’ve never even met the guy. He told Variety that his team went with its “gut and heart” when it developed their spot for the game.
Isn’t that where authenticity lies? Inside, in a brand’s gut? The answer is yes.
It’s why, at WHYFOR, we believe so ferociously in working with brands to ensure they understand their anatomy — the “who” and the “why” of what they are. When companies know that, and embrace it, they don’t have to walk the tightrope that so many of today’s brands are trying to do.
They want to be light-hearted and funny, but not disconnected. They want to match the tone of the nation, but don’t want to come across as somber. They don’t know how to support causes because they don’t even know if they believe in them.
That tightrope is a dangerous, ambiguous gamble. Authenticity is the safe bet, even when it costs $5.5 million.
As far as I’m concerned, first-timers like Mercari, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Chipotle and Fiverr are in the driver’s seat this weekend, no matter what. I mean, we’re talking about them, I’m already slow-clapping them, and I’m about to Google Triller — because they’re advertising, too, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m lost on who the heck they are.
But after Sunday, everyone will know.
After diving in and completing an Anatomy Profile with WHYFOR, Pine Canyon — a luxury golf community in Flagstaff, Arizona — experienced pretty remarkable results.
While doubling down during the pandemic on its new-found identity as a refuge for its owners and members, Pine Canyon crushed its sales goals (by 53%), saw a spike in SEO traffic (248% increase) and realized a 1,993% return on investment for its marketing efforts.
Deanna Keck, designated broker and sales executive for Symmetry Realty Brokerage at Pine Canyon, participated in the entire process. So, we asked her what she thought of it. Here’s what she said.
Q: What was the Anatomy Profile process like for you? What was your perception?A: It revealed people to us. We always knew we were drawing from five different zip codes. And we knew friends wanted their neighbors close. A lot of people consider Pine Canyon summer camp. I think it helped us look inwards at just a lot of things we were doing to attract those people and to raise the bar.
If we follow these steps and really reflect on who our audience is, and the anatomy of who we are, we can take Pine Canyon to the next level.
Q: What do you think was the most beneficial element of the process?A: It gave us a real roadmap of where we were and where we wanted to go. It always gave us the opportunity to bring us back to where we needed to be. We sit where we are today with the refresh of the brand … it allowed for Pine Canyon to set the bar extremely high.
Q: How do you think the work done during the Anatomy Profile impacted your external audiences?A: We did a really great job of painting a beautiful picture for people to fall in love with. And we had the right people in the right seats to sell the lifestyle.
Q: How did it change how you do business, if it did?A: I 100 percent believe in what the process brought to us and it really revealed a lot about our company we needed to change. And if other brands are committed to self-reflecting, they’ll get to where they want to go. This is a process for someone who is dedicated. Someone who says, “I want to do everything I can do to get there.” That’s the buy-in you have to get. I know it will make business better.
There are a lot of things that come through the process that are like skeletons in the closet. If you don’t deal with it, you can’t move forward. “Are you ready to make this commitment?” This is hard work. This is like therapy. And therapy is not fun. But when you work through it all, it’s amazing where you can be on the other side. If you can’t approach it that way, you don’t benefit from it.
… and we do believe we heard a mic drop right there, so we’ll wrap it up.
What can WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles do for your organization?
Connect with us and let’s find out, together.
Sometimes, it’s hard to understand a concept until it’s drawn out, with specifics. We’re thinking about architecture and physics and (gulp) algebra. The Anatomy Profiles we do for brands are the same, except less terrifying than tricky math problems with letters.
We can talk about Anatomy Profiles and explain them, but they sometimes just need a real-world example so they can be easily digested. Pine Canyon, a luxury golf community in Flagstaff, Arizona, is the ideal illustration of the impact our Anatomy Profiles, the first step of our L.A.B.S. system, can have.
Prior to working with WHYFOR, Pine Canyon was selling houses. Pretty straight forward for any developer. To be specific, the community tucked into the Ponderosa pines of northern Arizona, was selling luxury cabins with list prices that many times required multiple commas.
Anyone who stepped foot onto the immaculate grounds at Pine Canyon, which enjoys views of the San Francisco Peaks and frequent visits from area wildlife, could feel that the community was special. It wasn’t just another housing development, with a playground and a bank of mailboxes.
Pine Canyon was a destination, and one’s arrival there meant something. And that feeling needed to be communicated — because, up until then, it wasn’t. Pine Canyon wasn’t using language that inspired its audience to act. It wasn’t conveying its unique benefits, beyond a house.
WHYFOR stepped in and changed that. Anatomy Profile work uncovered a unique differentiation for Pine Canyon, which was actually selling a home — a place where someone belongs — instead of just a dwelling. A minor but gigantic detail.
After implementing tactics drawn from the Anatomy Profile, Pine Canyon’s leads increased by 40% and the real estate team exceeded sales goals by 53%.
Pine Canyon is a private golf community in Flagstaff, Arizona. The community’s luxury cabins offer owners an escape among pines, mountains and premium amenities infused with a sense of hospitality that isn’t easily found in a residential setting. Pine Canyon pivots on providing opportunities for its owners to discover a coveted, balanced life at every turn.
After being purchased by a new ownership group during the thick of the Great Recession, Pine Canyon experienced modest success but was still unable to meet or beat investor pro forma, despite offering a unique experience for its owners and members. The messaging being used was not connecting with its desired audience in a way that would inspire buyers to act. Pine Canyon needed to stand out from its competitors in the space and it needed to better understand, and more appropriately relay, its value to its audience.
Designed as a retreat for its owners, Pine Canyon’s most appealing attribute is its role as a genuine refuge for those who purchase a home in the community. Through its Anatomy Profile work, part of WHYFOR’s proprietary L.A.B.S. process, WHYFOR determined Pine Canyon, to that point, was trying to sell houses, dwellings where someone lives. But they really needed to sell homes — a place where someone belongs.
Why? Because that’s what their buyers craved.
WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profile determined Pine Canyon was more than a neighborhood. It was a place to disconnect in order to reconnect — a sought-after escape filled with indulgence, serenity, hospitality and luxury. WHYFOR worked to ensure that its branding would reflect its anatomy.
The creative concept:
Messaging and muted but sensory-rich visuals became key elements of Pine Canyon’s new look and feel as a result of WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profile. A messaging matrix developed with desired language for Pine Canyon acted as a reference tool for all branding efforts, creating a direct connection between buyers and the feeling they get when they’re at Pine Canyon.
A new tagline, “A refuge for the human spirit,” captured the essence of everything Pine Canyon offers — a place to belong.
The aha moment:
Once WHYFOR completed its Anatomy Profile and developed messaging that more appropriately reflected Pine Canyon’s DNA, the branding quickly began to resonate with prospective buyers, with owners and with staff. Pine Canyon became known as a true refuge, where members play world-class golf, owners take advantage of opportunities to explore and experience indulgent luxuries, and real estate options allow for the creation of a legitimate retreat from all of life’s typical distractions.
WHYFOR recognizes that the success of Anatomy Profile work is difficult to measure. How, after all, does one measure a feeling?
When it takes hold — that’s when. When PGA golfers reference the messaging. When a sales team adopts and leverages strategic phrasing. And, when prospective buyers use the same language about Pine Canyon that they’re consuming.
Numbers tell the story, too, as WHYFOR used its Anatomy Profile work as a strong, strategic foundation for its tactical plans. The results?
We’ve finally reached the meat, the juicy stuff. That sounds weird without context, but for carnivores, it must sound like some kind of glorious summit.
In reality, it’s exciting for everyone, even vegetarians. Because this is the culmination of the work we’ve been unfolding over the past few weeks as we explain our H.A.L.O. business system, a unique and holistic approach to branding and marketing based on values and rooted in immersive behavioral analysis.
We’ve mapped a brand’s genetic code, we’ve contextualized personas and the customer journey, and we’ve created a customized plan, based on budgets and goals, for a brand to realize the kind of success that — to this point — has alluded it.
We know. It sounds like magic or wild theory or even one of those “but wait there’s more” kind of things. But, it’s not. It’s just an industry-agnostic system that works.
Because everyone’s desire for something that works is equal. It’s not dependent on the size of the investment, whether your marketing budget is 20 bucks, $20,000 or $2 million. You want a return that is worth something. And that return, be it qualified leads, improved awareness or increased conversions, can translate to improved reputation, additional revenue or better recognition in a crowded marketplace.
That’s why our Avenues Plan drills down to specifics, providing exact coordinates for the placement of marketing dollars based on the work completed throughout the entire process. And oftentimes, by the time we arrive here, we are coordinating a solution for an issue that a brand had misdiagnosed, or completely missed, at the outset.
But that’s what this process is for. While it’s not designed to manufacture a branding curveball, it often uncovers unexpected insights, like archeologists dusting off generations of failed assumptions.
Data takes you down the correct paths. Assumptions, most times, don’t.
We could go on and on and on about this stuff, about H.A.L.O., about how well it works and about how much we love digging in and discovering new things about brands and businesses. But, we can’t here.
We’ve got anatomies to code, audiences to dissect and avenues to plan. Want in? Let us know. We’ll get these things going for you, too.