The tale of the headless horseman has certainly gone a long way since its debut in the 1800s. But whether it’s the Tim Burton adaptation or Fox’s new mystery series, the variations from the original have a hidden lesson on waking up sleepy sales.

Now every good bookworm knows that the original Sleepy Hollow was not even a novel but was in fact a short story, one of the many in Washington Irving’s The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. But until now, this short story lives on partly due to the many liberties taken by its most popular adaptations.

So how is it that a mere short story remains alive in people’s imaginations while sales of your products/services plummet because marketing struggles to keep your image equally vibrant?

Here are some possible explanations:

  • You fail to make an iconic impression – Much like Freddie Kruger or the Mummy, the Headless Horseman is an icon. Everyone knows who he is (you can’t exactly forget a guy who rides around without his head). What memorable impression have you left in your marketing campaign? Was there something that distinguished your brand or were you just another team of weary B2B salespeople?
  • You don’t take liberties with it – If you think adaptations keep the story alive, that’s only partly true. You’re ignoring the part that every new twist or artistic liberty keeps it fresh as well. Maybe you’re not getting as many leads because your prospects have grown tired of your unchanging marketing materials. The older you get, the more change is expected of you. Regardless of industry, innovation is vital to marketing as it is for the whole business.
  • You neglect consistency – On the other side of liberty though, you have the need to remain consistent. You don’t take artistic liberties with a story without drawing a line. Stories that carry the Sleepy Hollow label still have a Headless Horseman. They still feature Ichabod Crane. It’s the same in B2B marketing and lead generation. You may make slight changes in your logos or catchphrases but you don’t divert from what your business continues to offer.

If your marketers aren’t helping sales wake up, it might because you are either changing your image too quickly or not quickly enough. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, like many Halloween classics, maintains itself by a natural balancing act between trying something new and retaining its iconic identity in people’s minds. Treat the story of your own business in the same way.