If your show is missing THIS, then you’ve got trouble, my friends.
If you study entrepreneurship or business development then you probably know what a USP is.
And no, it’s not Ultra Super Powers, or Unexplainable System of Politics (although that could apply to what’s happening in this country right now).
USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition, and any business coach will tell you that when starting a new business, or when trying to breathe life into an old one, you start with your USP.
Your Unique Selling Proposition is what makes you stand out amongst the competition and makes people want to do business with you. Why? Well, to put it in the words of former Harvard business professor, Theodore Levitt . . .
“Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”
And when you’re in a business environment that is cluttered with more options than a Kardashian closet . . . like I don’t know . . . Broadway, then you better have a super charged USP. (By the way, another more fun way to describe this entrepreneurial philosophy is to ask yourself, “What makes your cow purple,” a nod to Seth Godin’s simple yet brilliant book.)
You might not think this concept applies to art like the theater, but it does my friends, oh it does, whether the Artist knows it or not. It can be the puppetry of The Lion King, the spectacle of The Phantom of the Opera, the TWO strong central female characters in Wicked (when having one in a musical is a rarity), the everything about Hamilton, and so on and so on. (One of the fun games I play with myself is to try and determine what is so unique about shows that makes audiences talk about them – I call it “Find The USP!” and I recommend you play it as well.)
Now, of course, unique isn’t enough, your show still has to be good. So just because you’ve got the rarest thing ever doesn’t mean you can sit back on your artistic heels (although it does seem sometimes that the more unique you are, the more you can get away with).
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is twofold:
1 – Make sure everything you produce has a USP.
2 – Once you have it, let everyone know about it.
Making something unique guarantees you attention without having to buy $100k ads in the New York Times. And if your show isn’t unique? Well, you can place all the ads you want, and people still won’t come . . . because they’ve got all sorts of other options in our cluttered closet to choose from that are a lot cooler than yours.
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