GUEST BLOG by Sara Fitzpatrick: 5 ways to make sure you’re ACTUALLY connecting with your audience online

The Internet is the child of Al Gore and that’s why we capitalize it like a first and last name.

The Internet is the end.

The Internet is the beginning.

The Internet has made virtual space more valuable than physical space.

The Internet is___________.

All these statements about The Internet are equally true… including the blank statement. So if The Internet is and is not all of these things, how do you use it as an effective marketing tool? This has become an increasingly important question as the days of treating digital as an afterthought are gone. The Internet is constantly evolving, but here are some approaches I’ve discovered from my fifteen years of digital marketing to make sure I’m actually connecting with an audience online.

1. Exercise empathy

If you’ve ever secretly wanted to be an actor, here’s your opportunity to get method.

Start looking at things from the audience’s point of view. The days of big brands shaming people into buying a lifestyle are gone. Now, it’s about welcoming them into your brand world and engaging them in a dialogue. This is not to suggest people will ever stop buying things out of a place of deep shame, that will never get old for some of us! But thinking that people want to hear a monologue about a brand from a rigid entity is outdated and ineffective. Modern marketing engages your audience in a conversation where they feel welcomed into your brand world.

So, if your marketing strategy is based on a dialogue, you need to define your voice. But how do you do that?

2. Create and abide by your brand guide

Your show is meant for somebody and the better you can figure out who that person is, the more effectively you can reach them.

What does your show’s brand pyramid look like?
What are its key attributes?
Who are your competitors?
What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
What does the consumer look like for your show?
What are the visuals, tone and creative that will best convey your brand message to your most likely consumer?

When you’re able to clearly abide by that brand voice you can generate tailored, high-quality materials. The digital space may be a person’s first touch point for your brand, so pay attention to what you’re saying. The quality of your content online is more important NOW more than ever, which leads us to the next guideline–

3. Weight quality over quantity

Your brand voice in the conversation will come through in the content you create. Be thoughtful; it’s easy to understand why consumers are increasingly wary of anything online. Create quality content you stand behind. Once you’ve created this content, you need to be strategic about where it goes.

Advertising is not always content and content is not necessarily advertising. What’s impactful in print may equally fall flat on a smartphone. The time and effort spent creating content that tells us what your brand voice is will be wasted unless you’re also smart about where it’s being heard. Different advertising and social media platforms have taken on distinct personalities; personalities you need to consider for your messaging.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that even if someone isn’t “following” you, it doesn’t mean they’re not engaged. Consumers are using social media as a research tool for brands instead of blindly following them—which is another reason your brand voice needs to be consistent and true. A new user is as likely to see your Instagram post as a loyal fan. “Followers” don’t carry the same amount of weight as they used to because they don’t necessarily translate to popularity or customers and vice versa. And speaking of followers….

4. Beware of fake news

Bots and followers leave everyone with that uncanny valley feeling: looking at a face that appears human but isn’t actually a flesh-and-bone human being. It’s a vile and insidious feeling. You’re unable to trust that anyone is who…or even what they say they are. I feel horrible even talking about it, I need to go buy something.

Buying followers and utilizing bots is a big example of putting quantity or quality… or quantity over reality. We don’t buy bots and I would never recommend it to anyone. Not only because it’s an ethically grey area, but because it’s not actually helpful in gathering insights for your brand. It really has more to do with how the audience is reacting to your product. How is the audience growing? What are the elements of your marketing matrix that drive traction and interaction? What are the messages that spark the most engagement? Fake follower data isn’t going to help you with that.

And alongside bots, the last important trap to avoid in your path to becoming the Beyoncé of branding-

5. Just because your friends are jumping off the bridge…

Just because everyone is buying New York Times triple trucks in July, doesn’t mean you should too. ALWAYS consider your brand voice and be loyal to it. Like your savvy customers, you can see what the competition is doing as research, but that doesn’t mean you should blindly follow and do the same thing.

– – – – –

Sara Fitzpatrick is the Founder and President of ARTHOUSE, a full-service media agency that partners with forward-thinking web advertisers in the strategy and design of innovative brand campaigns. Their services include branding, content creation, social management and media buying with a focus on how creative drives campaign success.

You can hear her podcast interview with Ken here.

5 Takeaways from a Non Broadway Marketing Conference.

Unless you follow me on Facebook, you wouldn’t have even known that I was gone.

But two weeks ago I was in San Diego, with 6,000 (!) other marketers at one of the biggest internet marketing conferences in the country world.

And I’d bet two tickets to Hamilton that I was the only guy there who marketed the theater.  Which is exactly why I went.  And oh the things I learned!

But don’t worry, like Prometheus stealing fire from Olympus, I took all sorts of tips and tricks from the Digital Marketing Gods and brought them back for you (just like I did on this post).

You ready for a few marketing truth bombs?

Here are 5 Takeaways for you:

1. Conversation is the new lead.

Many of the speakers talked about how important it was to start a conversation with your potential customer before asking them to make a purchase. Chat Bots, Facebook Messenger, and the good old telephone were just a few of the strategies we discussed to start conversations and thus increase conversions. But no matter what tool you use, it’s clear that today’s consumer wants a “Hello, how are you,” before they get a, “Do you want to buy this?” And if your marketing doesn’t offer them a chance to talk to you, then you’re losing out.  (This is one of the reasons we have “Live Chat” on our Once On This Island site.  Go check it out!)

2. Not everyone with a credit card is your potential customer.

We all like to think that our “products” (e.g. shows, in our case) are for everyone.  But they’re not.  And we’ll often take money from anyone that wants to pay our ticket price. But we shouldn’t. Getting the WRONG people in to see your show will only generate bad word of mouth.  Target the people that are predisposed to like your show, and forget the rest. Your peer reviews (which, bonus tip, are more important to millennials than any other generation) will be better, and so will your bottom line.

3. Marketers need to hang out with more real people.

When I’m at a Broadway ad meeting, and a debate breaks out about something as simple as the size of a logo on a Post-It pad, I often wonder, “When was the last time anyone at this table actually purchased a theater ticket?” At the conference, we were challenged to not only put ourselves in the minds of our consumers but to find a way to spend more time with them.  Why?  Because let’s face it, I have no idea what it’s like to be a family of four from New Jersey looking to see a show in January.  So I should find out . . . by starting one of those aforementioned conversations!

(TIP:  One of the best ways to find out what challenges your audiences face is to . . . ready for it . . . ask them!  An email or social media post that says, “Hey, what keeps you up at night?” or “What would make you go to the theater more?” It might be enough!

4. Perfect is the enemy of speed.

One of the greatest advantages digital products have over traditional products is that they can be launched, and then, if there is a problem, the “producer” can fix it on the fly.  The conference speakers all preferred us, entrepreneurs, to “ship,” when the product is ready, not when it’s perfect. Writers should do this too.  Get your work out there.  Fix it as you go.  If you’re a playwright, and you haven’t had a play produced, get help and get it on a stage somehow.  And don’t try to be perfect, because it’ll be another twenty years before you’re ready to do something with your script.  And PS, it still won’t be perfect!

5. Customers only post things on Social Media when it elevates their status.

Take a moment, and think about this one . . . true right?  No one is taking photos of themselves, sitting in a middle seat in the back row of a Spirit Airlines flight.  But get an upgrade? Flash!  Instagrammed! You only post photos and videos of yourself that you believe will make you look good to your friends, family, and followers. So, if we want more Instagrams and Tweets and Facebook Videos, then we need to give our customers social media photo ops that do just that.

What photo ops can you give your fans to make them look like superstars?

 

Those were just five of the takeaways my team and I ran away with.  Truth is, we had about twenty pages of ’em.  If you want to see the rest, well just watch the marketing of one of my shows.  So much of what I learn is embedded in my projects.  Truth is, I don’t come up with a lot of my initiatives on my own.  I steal them. 🙂

But that’s ok . . . and it brings me to the biggest takeaway that I learned at one of the very first conferences I ever attended . . . and it’s this:

Every business, no matter what the industry, is the same.  “But my business is different,” is a BS excuse from someone who isn’t doing their marketing work.

Applying the classic principles of sales and marketing works for all businesses, including Broadway.

 

 

 

 

Ever want more hours in the day? I’ve got some for you.

Fill in the rest of this sentence . . .

If only I had 4 more hours in the day, I would _____________________.

What did you say?  Finish your musical?  Write a screenplay?  Run 2 miles/go to church/spend more time with your kids?

Time is the most valuable asset in the world.  It’s about a billion times more valuable than a billion dollars.

See, you can always make more money.  But you can’t make more time.

In fact, without getting all morose on you . . . the time you have left on this planet to accomplish all those things you dream about doing . . . is tick, tick, ticking away.

That’s why it’s essential to make the most of each hour you have in each and every day, especially if you’ve got theatrical dreams in addition to a day job.

And, well who doesn’t?

If you’re like me, then you’ve probably got lots of stuff you want to do . . . and you’re constantly struggling to find time to do it.

I started creating and producing theater while I was still working a survival gig, and I had to figure out how to squeeze in those necessary hours to pursue my dream in and around that job.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a bit busier, (self-induced, I’ll admit, because I’m addicted to the theater!) and I’ve had to get even better at it, even though it’s now my full-time profession/obsession.

As a result, it’s not uncommon for me to get the question . . . “How do you find the time to do all the stuff you want to do?”

It’s an easy answer.

I studied how to do it.

Optimizing your time, finding efficiencies in your schedule, figuring out what to focus on and what to forget about . . . these are all learned skills.  Over the past ten years, I’ve devoured book after book and listened to speech after speech to figure out what makes the most productive people tick . . . and how they got more out of each and every tick of the clock.

And thanks to that study, and some of my own “special sauce,” the last year of my life has been one of my most productive (and most fun) . . . with even more good stuff to come (just you wait for a super big announcement coming via Instagram soon).

I’m going to share the strategies I’ve learned and used daily in an online workshop on Wednesday, October 18th at 7 PM called “Getting  @#$% Done:  Time Management for Artists or for Anyone.”

In the webinar, I’m going to explain how to find more time in your day to do the things you want to do, so you can get to where you want to be . . . faster.

And if you want to be a success, learning this stuff is a must.

Because in this business, since development can take such a long time, and you’re never quite sure what is going to “hit” until it’s in front of an audience, your probability of success is directly related to the amount of your output.  That’s why we all have to find ways to do more . . . in the same amount of hours (Edison invented thousands upon thousands of things . . . but we only remember him for just a couple – and those couple were more than enough to put him in the history books.)

This workshop is only available to members of TheProducersPerspectivePRO.  And when you sign up for this workshop, you have 20+ hours of others absolutely free.

Look, if you were ever thinking about taking one of my workshops, this is the one.  Because none of the other stuff that I teach actually matters, unless you can find the time to action it.

This workshop will teach you how to do just that.

Sign up here.

And together we’ll find the time that you need to accomplish what you put in that blank at the beginning of this blog together.

Getting  @#$% Done:  Time Management for Artists or for Anyone
Wednesday, October 18th 7 PM
(Can’t make this date?  A complete recording will be made available to you.)

Register now.

You’re invited to our first . . . Shut Up and Write!

The world . . . and this city . . . and especially this business . . . are full of talkers.

There are so many people with ideas for plays, musicals, apps, inventions and even plans for how to fix healthcare.

But as I wrote about here, ideas are worth jack shipoopi.  What matters is doing something with your idea.

Believe it or not, I struggle with action-ing my ideas too.  You should see the list of the stuff I want to make, build, write, etc.  That’s why I’m constantly searching for new ways to trick myself into motion.

And one of the best methods of motivation I’ve learned over the years . . . is to schedule time for what I want to do, schedule a place for what I want to do, and surround myself with a community of people who want to do the things I want to do.

Because there is energy in numbers.  (This is why we created PRO.)

That’s why, on Saturday, October 14th from 10 AM – 1 PM, we’re hosting our very first “Shut Up & Write!”

If you don’t know what “Shut Up & Write” is . . . it’s exactly what you think it is.  You show up at a space, along with a whole bunch of other people, you stop talking about your ideas, and you start writing them.  It’s at a set time, it’s in a place nowhere near your TV, and you’ve got folks around you that are succeeding and struggling with the same things you are.

Wanna come?

I promise that by the end of the session, you’ll be further along with your project than you were when you walked through the door.

Our SU&W will be held right here in midtown Manhattan at a location only disclosed to those who sign up.  All you have to bring is your laptop/tablet/pad of paper, a positive attitude, and your desire to turn an idea into something tangible.  It can be something you’re working on or something brand new.  It can be anything.

We’ll provide the space, coffee, AND my Director of Creative Development and Dramaturgical superstar, Eric Webb.  Eric will hold Professor-like ‘office hours’ during the session, so you can ask questions about your project if you’re stuck.

Oh, there’s one more thing you have to do . . . register.

Because we can only take a limited number (we don’t have Yankee Stadium for this).

When you register, you’ll see that our SU&W is not free.  It costs a whopping $3.65.

How did we get that weird/specific number?

It’s the price of a Grande Latte at Starbucks.

Why are we charging that?

Because I’d bet that many of you spend at least that at a Starbucks every single dang day.

And if you’re willing to spend $3.65 on a beverage, but not willing to invest $3.65 into an action plan that will get you out of the house and get you further along with your project, then, well, no offense, but we don’t want you at our Shut Up & Write.

But if you want to write . . . and if you are smart enough to know that sometimes you need a little help from your friends to get you to your goals and fast . . . then sign up for our Shut Up & Write today.

We’re going to have some fun, meet some cool folks, and get some @#$% done.

See you there.

TheProducersPerspective’s SHUT UP & WRITE
Saturday, October 14th
10 AM – 1 PM
Midtown Manhattan Location disclosed to participants only.
Register here for the price of a coffee.

 

Podcast Episode 131 – Second City’s Kelly Leonard

Great improvisers make comedy look so easy.  They just hit jokes out of the park like hanging curve balls.

But as Kelly Leonard explains in this week’s podcast, improv is one of the most challenging forms of performance on the planet.

That’s why the good ones, like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Mike Myers, etc. all go on to superstardom.

But before that, they all started at Second City in Chicago.

Kelly Leonard has been running the show at Second City for decades, and he saw those three I just mentioned and so many more, pay their dues on his stage.

I’m a big believer that one of the best ways to lay the groundwork for any show is through improvisation (it’s how I created my first show, The Awesome 80s Prom, and how I wrote my next show, Gettin’ The Band Back Together)so when I ran into Kelly in Chicago, I said to him . . .

“Kelly, will you be on my podcast?”

And he said . . .

“Yes . . . and . . . ”

Listen to Kelly and I improv some Q&As on all subjects such as:

  • What improv is great at . . . and where it fails.
  • Is a dramatic improv possible?  (Hear what happened when he tried one.)
  • How improv has changed in the era of Political Correctness.
  • The art of writing . . . FAST!  And how to do it well.
  • Why improv is being studied by academics and what it could mean for society’s future.

By the way, if you didn’t get that “Yes . . . and . . .” reference above, then you should read Kelly’s book and also take an improv class because it will improve your acting, your writing . . . and your life!

Enjoy the podcast!

Click here for the link to my podcast with Kelly!

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review, while you’re there!)

Download it here

 

 

 

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