What we need are Broadway sentries.

Marketing has a lot of similarities to warfare, believe it not . . . but instead of trying to kill, you’re trying to capture.

If you were reading Sun Tzu’s Art of War, or any book about battle strategy, you’d probably run across a section where they talked about protecting your city’s points of entry. You’d put troops at the ports, the bridges, the tunnels . . . and anywhere there was easy access to your castle.

Marketing something like theater is different, because we want people getting in to our city when they arrive at our entry points . . . we just want them coming in with the right message . . . your show’s message.

That’s why if you’re catering to a tourist market, I’d strongly suggest advertising at airports, bus stations, train stations, billboards near tunnels (like the Lincoln where there is a big ol’ Godspell billboard), etc.

But I think Broadway needs to go one further.  I was at an airport recently that caters heavily to a tourist market and as I passed through the arrivals gate, a woman handed me a gift bag . . . filled with information about my destination, and a whole bunch of coupons as well.  She got me thinking about my purchase decisions before I even got to the car rental desk . . . and she did it with a smile (and no billboard can do that).

The Fear Factor bullet point of my holiday week blog from yesterday got me thinking about all sorts of ways to make consumers feel more “at home” when they’re away from home.   And while I know we’ve got our points of entry covered with high-priced advertising options, I wondered if we could put real, live, bodies (Broadway sentries, if you will) at some of these high traffic areas to help talk/walk people through what Broadway has to offer.

Imagine a manned (or womanned) Broadway desk near the baggage claim area, near the bank of hotel phones or the airport transfers.  Expensive and logistically difficult, I know . . .  so maybe it’s even something Broadway.com should do?  Or what if we just reached out to all those folks working in those areas to be more Broadway savvy?  Or what about Broadway volunteers at the bus and train stations?  Free tickets to Broadway shows in exchange for a few hours of Broadway community outreach?  I know a bajillion students/seniors that would take us up on that (and that’s how many cities staff some of their public interest facilities).

We know how our primary ticket buyers are getting in to the city.  That’s half our battle.  The second half is making sure that we don’t have to fight to get them to buy a ticket.  And I’m convinced that if we arm them with the right information, they’ll be the ones fighting over the tickets.


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  • Kristopher says:

    I love how your ideas are good for theatre AND often stand a chance at creating jobs. Connecting those two ideals is close to me.
    Broadway Ambassadors. I love it

  • Noah B. says:

    So when will you be hiring these student volunteers? 🙂 I’m so in!

  • janiska says:

    Wow! I even like the Broadway Ambassadors term though I hate hype and am not sure I can contend with someone coming up to hype a show when I’m trying to collect my lost luggage. If the two become associated it could turn me against theatre for life (Terrible). Like those pesky perfume sprayers in department stores that cause you to want to escape any time you inhale anything even remotely like the perfume they’re selling.
    However, even a curmudgeon like me could get the billboard in the airport idea. Once when passing through the Minneapolis St Paul Airport, I noticed most beautiful posters advertising plays and musicals that were on every wall.
    And they’re not even Broadway!

  • Mary says:

    I think it’s great that you use business intelligence for things like this. Generally at conferences registration, the tourism bureaus in DC use seniors who are temps and they get a little extra money and provide much needed information. Again, I feel like I want to stress that paying everyone in the chain is really important for the arts. I saw a panel of Irish Artistic directors who mentioned that their surprise in working with American theater artists is that the Arts are not their full-time job unlike in Ireland. Creating paying jobs in the Arts an imperative.

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