3 Marketing Lessons for Broadway from Super Tuesday.

Is it just me or is Super Tuesday the new Superbowl?  Ok, ok, maybe it’s the Playoffs, and Election Day itself is The Big Game.

But it certainly felt like a-must-see-sporting event Tuesday Night, as my wife and I snuggled on the couch, eating wings, and screaming out at the TV when there was a touchdown or even a “fumble” (Like that awkward moment when Joe Biden mistook his wife for his sister – I’m just glad he didn’t make an Arkansas joke after he did it).

As I hooted and hollered (I think I even did “the wave” at one point – my wife did not), I couldn’t help but notice there were some Broadway marketing lessons to be learned from the results.

Now, these are general takeaways, and are not about political affiliation, viewpoints, or any of that ire-instigating stuff, but they do apply . . . so here goes.

1. Whoever has been around the longest, has an advantage.

If you’re in a cluttered market, like this year’s democratic field, and there isn’t an obvious decision for the consumer/voter to make, they’ll default to the thing that has been around the longest.  Joe Biden won the night.  Why?  Partly because he’s been around the longest! He has run for President 3x now, so voters are used to seeing him in a field like this.  He has been a member of Congress even longer than Bernie.  And, of course, he was a VP.  In marketing-speak, he has the highest “awareness” or market penetration of any of the candidates . . . so it’s not surprising that he’s starting to gallop ahead.

TAKEAWAY:  In a recent study I did on Broadway shows, The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera were the two shows of all the shows on Broadway that had the highest awareness.  Why?  Because they had run the longest, of course.  And it’s no surprise that they are two of the most successful musicals . . . in history!  Long runs help perpetuate an even longer run.  So, get your show to run for a long time. 🙂 Or, the better takeaway is for those of you who want to make a career in the theater.  If you’re a Writer, Producer, Director or other TheaterMaker, keep on sloggin’ away.  Your Awareness will catch up too.  Remember how I said Joe ran from President TWICE before?  Yeah, those didn’t work out quite so well.  But he kept on runnin’.  And we’ll see what happens this time.  (And I’d expect Mayor Pete to be in 1, 2 or 17 more races until he notches a big win too.)

2. Endorsements matter.

My favorite phrase of the night from the CNN Color Commentators was “Joe-mentum.”  Made me spit out a buffalo wing.  But it’s true.  After Joe’s win in South Carolina (which was partly due to the endorsement from Jim Clyburn), he was speedin’ into Super Tuesday with some extra gas in the tank. . . and then he got those late-in-the-day endorsements from Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg . . . and then . . . blast off.  Getting other people to support your mission is an easy way to double or triple your base.

TAKEAWAY:  Get testimonials from your audience members, celebrities or any influencers out there. And don’t just put those quotes on your website, but get those folks to push their message about your show out to their audience.  However you can.  Yes, even if you gotta trade something or even pay ’em!   If you think Jim, Amy or Pete just gave Joe their endorsement without getting something in return (one of them has VP written all over their future), well, you should not be a politician . . . or a businessperson.  Because this is how the world works.  Reciprocity.  Give ’em something to get what you want!

3. Buying advertisements is effective but NEVER as effective as word of mouth.

I used to like Mike Bloomberg.  He did amazing things for NYC.  He runs his governments like a business, yet he goes after the NRA and other social reforms like he’s got a gun.  But, Mike proved that money can’t buy you everything. And, by the way, this isn’t the first time voters have rejected a politician trying to make up for their lack of awareness or poor word of mouth with cash.  They rejected billionaire Ross Perot.  Mitt Romney supplemented his campaigns with his own personal fortune.  That didn’t work.  And, now, it looks like Mike is against the ropes.  Actually makes you feel pretty good about the American people.  Spending more than 10x what your fellow candidates spend may get you in the race, but it can’t get you to win the race.  And kudos to Elizabeth Warren for reminding us all of this . . . even if it hurt her own cause.

TAKEAWAY:  Buying more advertising to “make up” for your late arrival to the market, or to overcome bad reviews or worse, bad word of mouth (those debate performances, Mike – and what did you do that required those NDAs anyway?) may improve your standing, but it won’t guarantee your rise to the top. So don’t let advertising agencies convince you otherwise.  As the above proves, getting your show to run a long, long time and getting positive word of mouth is much more important than spending $100 million.

This race is only just getting interesting . . . so you can bet I’ll be back over the next 7 months with more comparisons of Political Theater to actual Theater.  But I promise . . . NO discussion of actual politics. 🙂

What do you think about the strategies candidates use to marketing themselves?  Comment below.

And if you want to learn more about political marketing and how we can use their strategies to help our own businesses, check out the smart blog of this actual political marketer.  (Yep, candidates hire marketing companies too.)

LAST CALL for our Broadway Investing Seminars.

Note to self . . . when you don’t do things for a long time that were very popular, and then do them later on, they tend to be popular again.

This happens to be the theory of why certain Broadway shows are revived.

And this also seems to be why we’ve had so many folks register for our two upcoming seminars about the ins and outs of Broadway Investing.

As I wrote here, I used to do these seminars twice a year for people who were interested in learning more about Broadway Investing, and for those folks who were looking to raise money and wanted to know how Broadway investing worked so they could explain it to their investors.

They were always popular.

I stopped doing them for a while, focused on publishing this book on Broadway Investing (the only book on Broadway Investing, I’m proud to say) . . . but the seminars are back, baby!

And based on the signups we had when I first announced it, both upcoming sessions are going to sell out, so I wanted to give you a LAST CALL before the seats are gone.

Here are the dates:

Tuesday, March 10th at 7 PM (extremely limited availability)

Monday, April 6th at 7 PM (limited availability)

Click here to sign up now and join other theater fans like you interested in learning more about . . .

  • How profits are split for Broadway Investors (including how Producers are paid)
  • Finding projects to invest in (including my strategy for picking a winner)
  • What besides profits you can hope to get from investing in a Broadway show (yes, we’re talking perks!)
  • Tax implications of Broadway Investing
  • And more . . .

Oh, and everyone who comes will get a free copy of the book, Broadway Investing 101.

I expect March 10th to sell out in the next 48 hours (and I’m keeping these seminars intimate to make sure I can answer everyone’s questions), so sign up now.

Last call everyone!

www.BroadwayInvestingSeminar.com

BREAKING NEWS: How your show could win a licensing deal . . . thanks to Rave and StageRights!

In case you missed it, last week we extended the deadline for submission to the Rave Theater Festival by one week!

That’s right, the final FINAL deadline to get your script submitted is this Sunday, March 8th at 11:59 PM.

Why did we extend?

Well, we wanted to get you TheaterMakers out there a chance to polish up your scripts, you perfectionists you.

But there was another, much more exciting reason.

It started last weekend at my Inner Circle weekend.  We were lucky enough to have Roger Bean, the founder and head honcho at StageRights, speak to my elite group of TheaterMakers about how to get their shows licensed.  And when Roger and I got to talking about Rave, he said, “How can I help?”  And before I could even answer he said, “What if I gave one show a licensing deal?”

He had me at licensing deal.

So he and I shook hands, and bam . . . just like that I’m thrilled to announce that one of the shows that appears at this year’s Rave WILL get published and a licensing deal at Stage Rights!  (And, yeah, even an advance!!!!)

If you don’t know StageRights and you are a TheaterMaker, you should.  They are one of the few independent licensing companies left and do a fantastic job for their Authors (and I’m proud to be one of them).

To have one of our Rave shows get a guarantee at what all Authors dream about is . . . well, a dream come true for this founder of Rave.

So, you see, we HAD to extend it by a week in order to give you a chance to not only get into Rave, but to also get published!

But you only have 6 days.  So submit today.  You never know what will happen if you do.  You could get a great NY Times review like some of our last year’s shows.  You could get optioned by a Producer like some of last year’s shows.

Or you could get licensed by StageRights . . . which will happen to one of THIS year’s shows!

Thanks again to Roger and StageRights.

And submit!

 

Episode 207 – The Lead Producer of Jagged Little Pill, Vivek Tiwary

Here’s all you need to know about Vivek Tiwary . . .

He had never lead produced a Broadway musical when he had sat down with Alanis Morissette and convinced her that he should be the one to develop a musical based on her best-selling album, Jagged Little Pill.  (I mean, just getting the meeting would be a win in my book . . . but walking away with the rights?)

Alanis didn’t have to go with him.  She could have called any Broadway Producer in all of Google and they would have leaped at the chance to put those songs on stage.

But she chose Vivek.  Because, as you’ll hear in this podcast, he has that fantastic combination of passion, perseverance and business acumen (backed by a business degree from Wharton).

Oh, and did I mention that he also wrote a New York Times best-best-selling graphic novel called “The Fifth Beatle”?

I got the chance to sit down with the left-and-right brained Vivek and we talked about . . .

  • What he said to Alanis at that meeting to get those rights.
  • His path from Investor to Co-Producer to Producer.
  • Why the secret to success in business is finding a niche . . . and what his is.
  • What he learned in business school that he uses on Broadway.
  • Why he believes it’s important to tell stories that are about what is happening NOW.

Enjoy the podcast, and if you haven’t see Jagged Little Pill yet . . . go!

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

And this week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Drew Gasparini! If you enjoyed the outro song in this episode, go on over to www.thedrewgasparini.com or check him out on Instagram & Twitter @DrewGasparini.

Putting The Fund in Funding on Broadway

I never believed in them.  For Broadway anyway.

Sure, investment funds were fine when you were buying a basket of boring stocks to prepare for your retirement, but for Broadway?  For any kind of art where so much emotion is involved?  One of the key criteria I recommend in this book before anyone invests in a Broadway show is to make sure you love the show.  I never thought investors would take to getting in a bunch of shows at once, especially if that fund was blind.

In fact, after I crowdfunded Godspell, a whole bunch of my micro-investors (customers, in this case) suggested that I start a fund.  “Nah,” I said.  “People want to know what posters they are going to hang on their wall.  They won’t want to do this.”

Idiot me was telling my own investor/customers what they would do and wouldn’t do.  (That’s like Ben & Jerry’s saying, “No, you won’t like that flavor,” after some of their most passionate cone buyers tell them they would.)

Flash forward five years later, and one of my most trusted mentors/Broadway investors suggested it again, AND said she’d start it off with a check.

This time, I listened.

I called the same terrific lawyer who helped me through Godspell, and I popped open a trial “starter” fund to give it a whirl.  (Sometimes you may have to beat me over the head with an idea to get it to take root, but, once it does, I get that seed to sprout pretty damn fast.)

In this case, the fund was for “Front Money” only – the earliest investment dollars a Broadway Producer needs, which historically has been the hardest money to raise on Broadway.

And, yet, this Front Money Fund was the easiest money I had ever raised.  And it’s also the reason I have four new musicals debuting in the next 18 months (more about that later).  Because when you give an Artrepreneur capital, they’ll make stuff with it!

When I asked why they liked the fund concept, my investors, of course, talked about the diversification.  If 1 out of 5 shows was the average rate of recoupment on Broadway then this was an easier way to play the numbers and reduce the risk.  They also talked about some of the other perks, like watching the shows develop and having additional rights to invest.  But, they also said it just made it easy to get involved with many shows at once, since they would have probably invested in them at some point anyway (these were my most trusted and loyal folks, after all, who always get first access to my stuff.)

At the same time I had my success, I noticed, other funds of all kinds starting to pop up on the market from blind funds, to rolling funds and, even, a fund just for projects led by women.

As Broadway has gotten hotter, and more and more people look to get involved, I’m predicting more and more funds will pop up.  And why not?  After all, they should mitigate risk AND make things easier.  (Most of the funds that have popped up are too early in their life cycle to have heard any real results – so I’ll have to update this blog in a few years.)

While I do believe “blind funds” will always have a greater challenge in raising monies than those funds where you know the shows you are investing in (most traditional mutual funds aren’t blind, after all), the truth is the success of any fund will depend on the same thing that those traditional funds depend on . . . who is running it.

What do you think about Broadway Investment funds?  Fad or a fantastic alternative?

– – – – –

Looking to learn more about Broadway Investing, including how funds work, and whether they’re for you?  Click here to register for my only Broadway Investing Seminar, coming up on March 10th and April 6th!

Can’t make those dates and still want to learn more . . . maybe because you’re looking to invest in your first Broadway show, or maybe because you want to learn the investing process because you need to raise money for your show?  Read Broadway Investing 101, the best seller now available on Amazon.com!

 

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