Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004Kellogg School of Management
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  Hope Wolman '93
  Hope Wolman '93

Alumni Profile: Hope Wolman '93

'Beauty in motion’
Hope Wolman’s marketing expertise keeps the Joffrey Ballet in the spotlight

By Chad Schlegel

Hope Wolman '93 has been studying dance most of her life, but it was her inventive approach to marketing that landed her a job at one of the world’s most prestigious dance companies.

Since joining the Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet as director of marketing and public relations in 2003, she’s used her varied marketing experience to find new ways to attract audiences.

Wolman’s recent initiatives have included rebranding the company by creating a new logo and marketing materials to reach a younger audience, overhauling the pricing structure of seats to optimize revenue and securing a major grant from a local Fortune 500 company.

The results speak for themselves: In fall 2003, the Joffrey sold a record number of tickets, and Wolman’s subscription campaign for the 2004-2005 season resulted in a double-digit percent increase in renewals.

Her Joffrey role is the latest in a career that’s produced cutting-edge marketing and lifestyle branding aimed at women.

Wolman’s first job after graduating from Kellogg was in strategic marketing at the Home Shopping Network, a move that baffled some of her professors and classmates.

“It was a $900-million industry, but it didn’t have the same prestige as working for Procter & Gamble or McKinsey,” she recalls.

Yet HSN was a “direct marketing machine” where Wolman saw the results of her work in real time. “You could see instant consumer response to pricing and styling. You could see which sentence of the salesperson’s pitch moved the most merchandise.”

She also gained experience in the nascent field of online retailing, as HSN acquired auction sites during the Internet’s commercial infancy.

Seeking experience in more traditional retail channels, Wolman took a job at The Limited in 1996. At the time, the company had 11operating units, including Express, Structure and Lane Bryant.

“The Limited was all about running with new ideas with a strong upside and pushing you to the edge of your skill set.”

For Structure, she marketed to twentysomething men with movie tie-ins and cross-promotion with men’s magazines. For Express, she oversaw the installation of a wall of video screens in select stores. A scaled-down version was eventually implemented at locations across the country.

“One day you’re focusing on helping working women feel glamorous; the next day you’re worried about how to converse in a meaningful way with 8-year-old girls,” says Wolman.

In 1998, Wolman took a business development job at a startup called There she cut deals to monetize every step in every industry that touches wedding planning. After a brief stint at a B-to-B software company, Wolman joined Delia’s, a mostly online purveyor of trendy teen clothing for girls. She found inventive ways to tune into the tastes of the brand’s demographic, including attending cheerleading camp and forming a focus group of 90 girls. “Most of them had my IM address, which was very counterproductive during the work day,” Wolman remembers.

When Wolman joined the Joffrey in 2003, she didn’t consider it much of a departure from her previous career.

“The Joffrey is like a startup. You’re resource-constrained and it’s small, so you’re often doing things beyond your formal area of expertise,” she says.

It’s also a lifestyle brand. And while subscribers are frequently couples, it’s usually women driving the purchase.

While Wolman considers working at the Joffrey a dream job — “I get to watch 45 Olympic-level athletes defy the laws of physics every day!” — it’s not without challenges. One hurdle is convincing people that they don’t need a formal understanding of ballet to enjoy the show.

Ballet is “sheer beauty in motion,” Wolman says. “It can be incredibly sensual and fun and I think people don’t expect that.”

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University