What a Broadway dancer taught me about marketing.

I was lunching with an ex-big time Broadway dancer last week (who has since moved on to become a big time business guy) and I asked him how he managed to break into the chorus lines of so many Broadway musicals.  Cuz, in case you haven’t heard, getting cast in a Broadway show can be pretty competitive.

“How did you stand out?” I asked.

And then he told me this story of him in dance class . . .

“I was wearing tight clothes, in front of a mirror, with this old guy screaming at me.  Not the best for one’s self esteem.  And I remember thinking that I wasn’t the best dancer in the room.  (Maybe that’s because an old guy was screaming in my ear that I wasn’t the best dancer in the room!)  But then I just came to terms with it.  I wasn’t the best overall dancer.  But there were three things that I could do that other people couldn’t: I could jump higher than anyone.  I could lift any of the girls.  And I danced like a dude.  So I stopped trying to be the everything dancer, and I just focused on those three things.  I made myself a jumper, a lifter, and a dancer that looked like he could also play for the Yankees.  And whenever anyone was looking for a dancer like that, I got the job.”

This dancer didn’t try to  be everything.  He analyzed his product (himself) and focused on its strengths, and made the most of those.

I sit at too many marketing meetings where Producers and Ad Executives try to sell everything they think their show has.  “We’ve gotta push the score!  And the source material!  And oh this young cast!  Don’t forget we’re totally original!  And our director won a Tony!  And we’re an American show!  We’re only 90 minutes!”

And then next thing you know you have marketing pieces that look like franken-ad . . . way too many messages jammed together that end up confusing the consumer, instead of getting him or her closer to making a purchase.

Your show isn’t perfect.  Just like my dancer buddy wasn’t perfect.  But your show does have strengths.  Figure out what your top three assets are (focus group, anyone?) and then sell those like your career depends on it.

Because it does.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Enter my Tony Pool and you could win an Apple Watch!  Click here.

– Win two tickets to Gigi on Broadway! Click here.

– Listen to Podcast Episode 18 with writer and performer Charles Busch! Click here.

  • Justin Ayer says:

    This article reminds of a book I’m reading now called “do more faster” which is about startups. Even though it’s from the tech point of view it has some great lessons. I just have to translate them to theatre language or at least treat myself as a startup.

  • Zillah Glory says:

    Short AND sweet! Genuinely appreciate this one. Feels to me like something I need to do not just with a show, but with what I focus my audition prep on. Thanks tons!

  • Jon says:

    Marketing is like dating.. Pick your target, and focus on what makes you different and desired..everything else.. they already know…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *