Why Politicians Need A Marketing Lesson To Get People To Stay Inside.

In his daily midday address the other day, the butt-kickin’ Governor of NY, Andrew Cuomo, once again tried to emphasize how important it was that everyone stayed the @#$% inside during this crisis.

“I’ve tried to say this so many different ways,” he said, obviously frustrated that he was still not getting his message through to all the right people.

And he’s not the only one.

“Staying inside saves lives,” all the Politicians and Docs have said over the past few weeks.  “Because sure, sure, 80% of the folks who get it will recover, but you could pass it on to someone that is one of the unlucky folks who don’t.  So stay inside to help others.”

Makes sense.  A very compelling argument, right?

Of course.  But unfortunately, it’s just not enough for a heck of a lot of people.

What all the folks behind those podiums are forgetting is that they are selling something.  It’s just not a product that comes in an Amazon box.  It’s a message.  And that message could be more valuable than Jeff Bezos’s entire net worth.

And to get people to “buy” it, they need to go back to marketing basics.

When designing a marketing campaign of any kind, you must remember The Non-Golden Rule . . . people do things for what’s in it for them.  As ugly as it is to admit . . . self-interest is the public’s primary motivating factor.

Gross but true.

So telling people how staying inside will help other people may not be the most effective way to get these folks to actually do it.

It should be part of the argument, for sure.  But in my opinion, the Politicians and Doctors are missing out on a very important part of the message. . .

And the lead that they’ve buried is this . . . even though 80% of the people who get this thing may not have to go to the hospital, they could be dreadfully and disgustingly ill.

I was reminded of this myself when I read Drew Gasparini’s Instagram Story the other day.  If you don’t know him, Drew is a composer-who-will-be-reckoned-with (he’s the guy behind the upcoming Karate Kid score and he was featured on my Podcast recently as #SongWriterOfTheWeek) who also just battled COVID-19 and is now, thankfully, on the other side.

But before he broke the virus’s back, this is what he went through:

It is not hyperbolic when I say this is easily the sickest I’ve ever felt to the point that my own mind was questioning whether or not I was going to be able to wake up the next day.

There was nothing to prepare me for how god awful it is.  I am on day 10, and I am very very slowly turning the corner but my experience was so bad that I am still very much just a shell of myself.  I have never in my life felt as sick or scared that my body couldn’t handle something in my entire life. Ever. Not even close.

Here’s what my week felt like:

  • Constant fever between 100-103 (treated every 4-6 hours with Tylenol)
  • Chills and aches. Sometimes it got so bad that I would shiver when I left bed to the point that I would fall to my knees and have a hard time getting back up.
  • No taste or smell (this is common with this virus)
  • The fatigue was (still is) so bad I could barely lift my head or open my eyes. The most I traveled was from my bed to the couch and I really weighed out the bathroom trips.
  • Perpetual nausea. It was constant, and painful as I tried to force nutrients into my body…
  • Anytime I did eat it would be immediate (overshare) diarrhea.
  • A cough, that once it started it would become a long coughing fit

– Drew

So tell me, readers.  Even if you knew you’d recover . . . do you want to deal with any of that, never mind all of that?

And I’ve heard even worse from others.  One friend and industry professional I know had to take pain-killers because his body aches were so bad.

Another threw up blood.  Another had blood coming out the other end.

I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to make me stay inside and bodywash with sanitizer.

And that message could affect the behavior of others in the way the politicians, doctors, and everyone wants and needs.

Hearing what the virus has the potential to do to YOU not only gets at the self-interest in all of us, but it also invokes one of the other primary marketing axioms . . . The Pain-Pleasure Principle.

People will always run to pleasure.  And run from pain.

The current marketing of this “stay inside” message hasn’t showcased enough personal pain to get some of the population to trade in the pleasure of going to spring break, gathering at friend’s apartments, etc.

In fact, the “marketing” has done the opposite.  The current message, and I’m quoting a website here, is “Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment.”

While that may be true, and while it does prevent panic, from a marketing perspective, it doesn’t help keep people locked down.  If we want people to listen, we need to tell them, “You can get this.  And yes, you’ll most likely recover.  But in the process, it could hurt.  A lot.  So prevent yourself from the chance of (INSERT DISGUSTING SYMPTOMS HERE) and stay inside.  Doing so will keep you feeling great, and could also save the lives of your friends, family and fellow New Yorkers.”

(This theory is the same that was used in those very successful anti-smoking ads that show people speaking with no larynx, etc.)

I’m sure most of the people who read this blog are the part of the population who are staying inside.  But if you know people who aren’t, and you really want to get them to stay inside, use the above message on them, will ya?

And special thanks to Drew for his honesty.

– – – – –

Last night on our live stream we featured Actor, Producer, Artrepreneuer ALAN CUMMING!  Click here to watch the replay and hear him talk about . . .

  • How he’s utilizing this time of forced isolation to write his next book. . . and bake homemade crackers!
  • His number one tip to negotiating (you may be surprised by his response . . .)
  • What he’s learned from doing his podcast, Homosapiens.

And tonight at 8 PM EDT, we have stage director Leigh Silverman joining us!  Click here to get a reminder to tune in!

[VIDEO]: 2019 Super Conference – “Welcome to the 2019 Super Conference” with Ken Davenport

When we started releasing our Super Conference videos on Tuesday, we started at the end, with Stephanie J. Block firing us all up to get out there and do things we’re afraid to do . . . because it leads to the kind of success she has had.

Today, I’m giving you my kickoff to the event.  Every year, I bang the gavel to get the proceedings underway, and give you my “state of the state” of theater, which includes some analysis of where we are, and where I think we’re going.

And last year’s “Welcome” included some data I dug up that I think all you writers out there will find very comforting.  (And FYI, I’ve already started working on my “Welcome” for this year’s conference, because it’s going to be quite a celebration.)

So enjoy my “Welcome,” and hear why I think the power in the Theater is going BACK to people just like you.

(And stay tuned for our next Super Conference video . . .  Ashley Chang, Jenna Clark Embrey, Jack Phillips Moore, and Jill Rafson in a panel on “What Dramaturgs Do and Why/When You Need One.” Subscribe here to get it emailed to you.)

 

Don’t forget to tune in our new Facebook LIVE series, The Producer’s Perspective LIVE!, every night at 8pm EDT.  Tonight’s guest is press director Rick Miramontez! Saturday’s guest is composer Stephen Flaherty, and Sunday will be director Pam MacKinnon!  Click here for the full schedule and to tune in!

[VIDEO]: 2019 Super Conference – “Budgeting for Every Stage of Development” with Adam Hess, Brian Moreland, Margaret Skoglund, and Charlotte Wilcox

Budgets are the foundation of every business, especially Broadway.  Our economics are so fragile that if you eff up your budget, your show could close faster than it should, no matter how good it is.

That’s why we produced a panel on “Budgeting Best Practices” our SuperConference with a powerhouse group of Broadway General Managers who discussed . . .

  • The difference between a Capitalization budget and an Operating budget
  • What the biggest “line items” on a Broadway budget are and how to keep them in line.
  • Why the typical recoupment time is for a Broadway show in modern times (and what you should shoot for)
  • The process for how profit and royalties are calculated and distributed.
  • And more. 

Watching this video will save your show money.  Period.

Enjoy!

(And stay tuned for a new video every single day, right here in this space.  Tomorrow, my official welcome presentation to the Super Conference 2019 which includes my analysis of the trends of the types of shows that Broadway wants right now.  Click here to get these daily videos emailed to you.)

Don’t forget to tune in our new Facebook LIVE series, The Producer’s Perspective LIVE!, every night at 8pm EDT.  Tonight’s guest is Broadway Star Alex Brightman!  Click here for the full schedule and to tune in!

Introducing The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! Starting TONIGHT at 8 PM

Last weekend, when I realized I wouldn’t be seeing a lot of my friends, acquaintances (or “virtually” anyone) in-person for quite some time, I started reaching out via FaceTime, Zoom and Text just to check-in and see how they were doing.

Well, they showed me.

In the first few moments of our chit-chat, they had me laughing, they had me learning (sharing their tips of how they were getting through this), and they had me inspired to do something to help anyone out there who need the same medicine that I inadvertently did!

That’s when I thought . . . more people need to hear from these amazing folks.

So that’s what we’re doing.

Inspired by my podcast and the little pick-me-ups I described above, tonight we start TheProducersPerspectiveLIVE!

Every night at 8 PM EDT, we’ll have a superstar TheaterMaker join us for a brief chat about how they are doing, what they are doing, and what tips they are for you on getting through, and eventually, getting back to what we all love to do . . . make theater.

And yes, that’s right . . . no recorded edited episodes here.  These will be LIVE and ON VIDEO, streaming live on Facebook.

And just look at who has already shot their hand up and said YES, I’ll do it!

Stephen Schwartz – Tuesday, March 24th
Sierra Boggess – Wednesday, March 25th
Alex Brightman – Thursday, March 26th

Rick Miramontez – Friday, March 27th
Stephen Flaherty – Saturday, March 28th
Pam MacKinnon – Sunday, March 29th

Steven Sater – Monday March 30th
Jennifer Tepper – Tuesday, March 31st
Alan Cumming – Wednesday, April 1st
Leigh Silverman – Thursday, April 2nd
Sergio Trujillo – Friday, April 3rd
Jeanine Tesori – Saturday, April 4th
Anthony Veneziale

David Henry Hwang
Andrew Lippa
Lonny Price
Kevin McCollum
Zalmen Mlotek
Ryan Scott Oliver
Damian Bazadona
Drew Hodges
David Rockwell
Jack Tantleff
Al Nocciolino
John Caird
Des McAnuff
Stephen Byrd
James Lapine

It’ll be every night, 7 days a week.  And you can see the schedule for the series here.

I’ll kick it off tonight to talk a little more about it, take some questions (and honestly, test the technology before I get a big star online).

Tune in to my Facebook page TONIGHT, Monday March 23rd, at 8pm ET (7pm CT / 6pm MT / 5pm PT) to hear more about it AND get an update on what will be joining us.  And to find the most up-to-date schedule and list of guests, visit this page: www.TheProducersPerspective.com/Live.

See you tonight . . . and every night!  And don’t forget, the schedule is here!

 

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.)

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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