We’re having a Theater Maker Social . . . in LONDON!

One of my goals in 2019 is to learn more about the hard-working people who make theater and the people who dream about making theater all over this world.

So, during my next trip to jolly old Londontown on Tuesday, January 15th, from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM, I’m having a Theater Maker Social!

Thanks to my friends at The Really Useful Group, The Social will be held at “The Other Palace”, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theater, which is dedicated to supporting new theatremakers and giving them a home.  (And they’ve got a great bar and some snappy apps.)

And the first drink is on me!

So, whether you’re a Writer, Producer, Actor, Designer, whatever, you’re also a Theater Maker.  And I want to meet you and hear about what it’s like to make theater in London or wherever on that continent you come from (Hey you Frenchians – you’re like an hour and a half away by chunnel – so come on down).  Maybe we can even come up with some ideas on how to help you make more theater and faster.

Or maybe when you come, you’ll meet a new collaborator or re-meet an old one.

One thing I know for sure, when passionate Theater Makers get in a room (and a bar qualifies as a room), good stuff happens.  Every single time.

And I guarantee some good stuff at this social.

So come to our London Theater Maker social and network, brainstorm, say hello to me and put a drink on my tab.

See you there!

(OH!  You MUST RSVP.  We’ve got a limited amount of space and we’ve got a lot of Pros in the area already so only people on the list will be admitted.  Sign up now. And tell your friends to do the same.)

Here are the details:

Ken Davenport’s Theater Maker Social
Tuesday, January 15th
6 PM – 7:30 PM
The Other Gin Palace – Foyer Bar Area
12 Palace Street
London, England
SW1E 5JA

RSVPs a MUST.  You are not confirmed until you get an email saying “You’re in!”

RSVP NOW.

5 Marketing Hacks From A Fancy French Restaurant (in France!)

I was in London town last week for my work with Really Useful, and since my wife had never been to Europe before, I packed her up and took her along with me.

Of course, one of the spectacular things about Europe is that so many different countries and cultures are just a train ride away.  You can go to Paris from London in the same time us New Yorkers can go to Atlantic City (you never thought Paris and AC would ever be in the same comparative sentence, now did you?).

And so we did.  We jumped on the ‘chunnel’ (or jumped under, I should say) and shot up to gay Paris.  We saw all the big sites in 36 hours (stay tuned for the debut of my new blog…www.HowToSeeParisWithYourSpouseIn36HoursAndNotKillEachOther.com).  But, of course, what she really wanted to do was eat at a Fancy French Restaurant (or FFR, as it’s known by husbands on the new blog).

“What kind of restaurant do you want to go to, hon?”

“Surprise me!”

Gulp.  The two words that can send shock waves of fear through the heart of any husband.  Am I right, men?  I knew, in my hot little Googlin’ hands, I had the power to make or break the entire trip with this one restaurant choice.

“Choose wisely, my son,” I heard the god of Husbands whisper in my head, “Or thou shalt be banished to never play golf on a Saturday morning again…and also binge watch the entire season of Downton Abbey.  Twice.”

So I chose.  And we ate.  And now you want to know where, and more importantly, you want to know…DidSheLikeIt?

Well, before I tell you that, let me tell you that in addition to some extra calories, I also added some marketing hacks to my toolkit that I had to share.

As you’ve heard me say before, the basic principles of marketing are the same for any business, and we can learn from all industries.  But restaurants and the theater are even more aligned than most (perishable inventory, labor intensive, product consumed at a specific location rather than in the home, etc.).

That’s why I thought you’d enjoy these Five Marketing Tips I learned from this FFR, so you can apply them to your show or your theater.  Here we go!

  1. They showed us the history.

Along the walls of the restaurant weren’t photos of France or even fine art.  Instead, they hung framed menus from their past…and we’re talking from the way, way back.  There were hand written menus from the 1940s and earlier!  (And oh, those prices back then!)  Walking to the restroom was like walking through their own private museum.  I found myself staring at the walls looking to find the oldest menu in the room.

These pieces of fine dining art were subtly saying to me without screaming it in my ear, “Hey, we’re not just old, we’re historic.  And if we’ve been around that long, then you know we’re good, because it’s not easy to hang around in this biz.”

How long have you been around?  And how can you show your consumers that you were “Established in 1985” without just saying it?

  1. Obama ate there.

Actually, that’s not true.  Obama didn’t eat there.  The Obamas ate there.  Both of them.  On a date.  When they were in Paris.  And yes, this was the #2 reason why I chose this restaurant (keep reading for the #1).

Celebrities matter…especially when they are on brand with what you are selling.  It doesn’t mean as much to have Will Ferrell show up at a production of Macbeth. But get him to a brand new comedy?  That’s on message and will help you spread yours.

  1. It was casual.

We dressed up for this FFR, but it wasn’t necessary.  There was a very casual and comfortable vibe in the place that made us feel at home.  In fact, we went to dinner straight after seeing a museum (or 7), and we didn’t feel any pressure that we were underdressed.

While all of us theater snobs lament the days of when people dressed up for the theater, ask yourself, is that what you’d really want to do if you were on vacation?

Tourists, Broadway’s primary audience, try to pack in as much stuff as they can into their 48-72 hours with us.  And getting back to the hotel and putting on a suit (that they didn’t have room for in their extra bag that costs them $75 to check) is a pain.

And more importantly, if they’re wearing something because they have to, and something that doesn’t make them comfortable (ever wear a tie in July?), how much do you think they are going to enjoy what they are about to see?

Make your audience comfortable and they’ll be more likely to enjoy what they are about to see.  Make them uncomfortable?  You’ve got a lot harder job to do.

  1. They offered us menus…in English.

Going to an FFR can be stressful, especially when you only speak “un peu” of the language.  I was prepared to ask for an English menu…but I didn’t have to.  The non-snooty waiter asked us as soon as we sat down if we’d like an English or French menu, and didn’t turn up her nose when I answered, “Anglais, s’il vous plaît.”

While we may not all be able to have audio language translations of our shows on Broadway (though we should all strive for it), we can work to make things easier for our foreign audience (which makes up 18% of our audience).

If our box office attendants don’t speak other languages (and at least one should speak Spanish, I’d think), we could easily have signs in other languages, or “menus” of ticket options, synopses, etc. to hand them to make their ordering easier.

  1. No matter what the language. WoM is just as powerful.

I told you that the Obamas ate there, right?  And that was the #2 reason I chose this specific restaurant?

Well, the primary reason I chose this eaterie was because someone recommended it to me.  In fact, two people recommended the same place to me, and both had lived in France, so I felt like I was getting a “local” rec instead of a tourist rec., which always feels stronger.

I may have checked TripAdvisor later.  And I may have googled the “eff” out of this FFR, but it was good ol’ Word of Mouth that got me thinking about it in the first place.

Word of Mouth is the strongest motivator for purchase for all products out there. It always has been, and it always will be.  Every other bit of marketing just supports that WoM.

Your job is to make sure you stay top of the mind with your audience to make sure they are recommending you…and that they have the tools to recommend you easily and often.

The restaurant?  It was this one.  And yes, I recommend it as well.

Because the wife loved it.  The food was great. The wine was great.

And,  an added bonus?  We started talking to the couple next to us just as we were ordering dessert.  Turns out they were from the U.S. as well.  About 60 miles from where my wife and I got hitched.

And they had invested in Dear Evan Hansen.

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The road to The Road: The ABCs of National Tours Explained.

Broadway isn’t just on Broadway anymore.

Thanks to the Broadway boom that started a couple of decades ago, Broadway is now “the longest street in America,” with Broadway shows playing performing arts centers and civic centers all over this country (and the world).

Odds are, if you’re reading this blog and in the continental U.S., you’re within an hour from a National Tour stop of some kind, whether that’s a sit down of Hamilton or the non-union Grease (because isn’t there always a non-union Grease playing somewhere?).

What that also means is that a National Tour has become more of an integral part of the business of Broadway than ever before. A tour is a franchise (yep, just like McDonald’s) and in many cases, if done right, can be more lucrative than a Broadway production, with less risk.  Done wrong, well, let’s just say, you don’t want to be a Producer who didn’t recoup a National Tour.

Most folks learning the biz focus only on the Broadway part . . . because that’s the most exciting part.  It’s what generates the most press, the most awards . . . even though it might not generate the most profit.

But if you really want to understand the complete Broadway business model, then you have to understand the ins and outs of a National Tour, which is why touring Broadway is the subject of my next webinar, entitled, “The ABCs of National Tours Explained.”

I’m going to talk you through every aspect of the National Touring business, from the economic models to the potholes to avoid. We’ll cover . . .

  • The difference between a “Guarantee” and a “Four Wall.”
  • How National Tours are sold . . . and more importantly, when?
  • Why budgets for tours are different than Broadway, or who pays for what.
  • Mistakes to avoid when putting your show on the road.
  • How do you get your show out on the road?

And tons of more information, including a Q&A as always.

FYI, this is going to be a really important webinar.  If I was a college with a major in Producing, “The ABCs of National Tours” would be a requirement for all freshman.  It’s an essential prerequisite for anyone looking to master this business.

Why?

Look, finding a hit Broadway show is a rarity, right?  So when you do find one, you better know how to stretch out that money maker for a long, long time, and the road is the best place to do just that.

The webinar will take place next Wednesday, August 10th at 7 PM EDT.  But, if you can’t make that time and place, don’t worry, we’ll send you a link the very next day to watch it whenever you want (even if you’re at work . . . I won’t tell your boss.  Bahahaha!).

It’s $149, and as always is guaranteed.

Click here to sign up now.

The webinar software does limit the number of participants, and since we expect this webinar to be very popular, I’d sign up now.

Sign up for the webinar here.

If you want to save the $149 and watch this webinar for free, click here to join TheProducersPerspectivePRO and get a 30 day free trial, which will cover the webinar.  And all you have to do is cancel before your trial is up, and you don’t pay.  During those 30 days you can check out all the other stuff on PRO including:

  • My monthly newsletter mailed straight to your home with articles NOT published on the blog with hot tips on marketing, raising money, and more.
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  • 30+ hours of courses on everything from raising front money to selling tickets with social media and more.
  • Mailing lists for Producers, Literary Agents, Licensing Houses, and more (perfect timing for all your Fringe participants out there).
  • And more.

Join TheProducersPerspectivePRO for free today and get “The ABCS of National Tours” webinar for free.  Click here.

Or get the webinar for only $149 when you click here.

 

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The Top 3 Tools I Couldn’t Live Without as a Tourist.

I’m in midair as I type this blog, flying back from my honeymoon in Hawaii, where I lived like a tourist for the last 10 days.

Going on vacation is always great for relaxing and re-energizing the spirit, but I also find vacations to be super educational for producing Broadway shows.

See, Broadway audiences are about 65% tourists. That’s right, 65% of the people filling those seats aren’t from the tri-state area. They take planes, trains and automobiles from hundreds if not thousands of miles away to come to NYC and while they are here, they take in a show (hopefully two).

In other words, 65% of the people who attend Broadway shows are on vacation.

So when I’m away on vacation, I get into the same mindset of the tourist.  It’s like embedded producing.  I can try to figure out what makes them tick, and more importantly what makes them buy tick-ets.

On this trip I tried to determine what “tools” the modern tourist uses these days to help them make their purchasing decisions, so that I could make sure I’m maximizing my shows exposure on these tools back at home.

Here are the three tourist tools that I used on my vacation that effected my purchase decisions.

1. The Concierges are Key

I knew I could have gotten cheaper tickets to Burnin’ Love (The Elvis show on Maui) if I had spent a little time looking for the right coupon . . . but it was so much easier to just say to the concierge who was right at the front of my hotel, “Hey, I want to see this show,” and have them get me great seats, charge them to my room, and I’m done. Oh, and while I’m here, can you also get my surfing lessons, a helicopter ride, and a restaurant.   Yes they can.  Yes they can.  Tourists on vacation, especially those on “special vacations” in places like Hawaii or NYC (where you know you’re going to spend top dollar anyway), aren’t as frugal as you or I when looking for an entertainment option.  Concierges give recommendations, and save time, so you can get back to vacationing.   As a Producer you want to be the ones the concierges are recommending, so if you’re doing a show in NYC, do what you can to strengthen these relationships.

2. Yelp It Up!

I’m not a huge user of Yelp in the city.  I know what I like and where it is, and if not, I’ve got friends to recommend stuff for me.  But on vacation, oh man did I use this sucker (honorable mention to TripAdvisor.com).   While you can’t take every single one of the reviews too seriously (some Yelpers are more critical than Ben Brantley), when you see that a restaurant has 700+ reviews and it has more than 4 stars, you might want to check it out.   On this vacation, using these user review sites sold me on more businesses than ever before (and pushed me away from others).  Takeaway? Of course the only way to control the ratings and the reviews is to create great content and give great customer service . . .  but after that, encourage your audience to Yelp for you.  Peer-to-peer online recommendations are the wave of the present.  Oh, and I’d check out advertising options at the same time.

3. The Modern Map

The cool thing about Google maps (or any other electronic navigational system) is that you don’t have to look like an idiot anymore, standing on a street corner with a 40 x 40 sheet of paper in front of you trying to figure out which was is north.  (And don’t even get me started on trying to fold it up again.)  Tourists don’t know where they are going.  Whatever you can do to help them find you will have an immediate impact on your bottom line.  Are you listed on Google Places?  Are you advertising on some of the tourist maps that are distributed free in hotels?  Do you put a map on your flyers?

As times change, tourists change . . . and as a business that depends on those tourists for almost three quarters (!) of our business, we need to constantly change with them.

The next time you are vacationing, think about what you use that helps you spend money.  And then think about how you can reach tourists in your hometown using the same devices.

And if you need a recommendation on a great Shaved Ice place on the North Shore, let me know.

 

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

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3 Things to do to sell tickets during a snowstorm.

Snow is a beautiful thing . . . until you realize the effect it has on business.

Broadway is in the middle of its first big snowstorm this season, and as usual, it’s causing a whole bunch of problems with ticket sales.

Not only can people who bought tickets not come in, and not only do places like the TKTS booth become virtually impossible to visit, but people also stop buying for the future . . . as all of their attention is focused on the weather at hand.  It’s true!  When a big weather event hits, almost all buying just stops.  It’s hard to get a consumer to focus on buying, when they’re focusing on how to get by.

But the show must go on . . . so what can you do in the middle of a snowstorm to sell tickets?

1.  People can’t come in, but they also can’t get out.

Thousands and thousands of tourists come to the city every day, and Broadway counts on them for ticket sales.  But flights ain’t landing in the next 12-24 hours, so our supply has been shut off.  But flights aren’t taking off either.  And this week, we’ve still got some holdover tourists from the New Year filling up hotel rooms.  Can you flyer hotels (I got busted for slipping flyers under doors once)?  Can you offer incentives to concierges?  Just like you may be trapped in your home, a lot of folks may be trapped in their hotel . . . but a Broadway show is just a few steps away.

2.  Snow Day Special.

You’re going to have a lot of available seats in a snowstorm.  Even the sold-out shows are going to have cancellations (if you’ve been waiting to see The Book of Mormon, now’s your chance).  Go public with a low price/great seat special to appeal to the locals that don’t have school or work.  Use a press release, your email list and yep, social media, to spread the word.

3.  Remind everyone you’re running.

Every time there is a storm a-brewin’, we start getting calls three to five days (!) before the storm, asking whether we’re canceling or not, or providing exchanges (another reason Broadway’s snow exchange policy should be made more public).  We always have to tell people to hold-their-horseys and wait until we see if the storm actually hits (it’s usually never as bad as the super dramatic weather folks make it out to be – sometimes I think that weather is a whole show in itself!).  Preemptively strike with communication to your customers and anyone considering buying that storm or no storm, you’re open for business!  A message out five days before the snow starts falling can help prevent the loss of sales momentum.  (I’d include safe public transportation alternatives in the communication.)

Selling while it’s snowing ain’t easy.  It’s never going to be easy, but implementing the above can help prevent the day from being a complete white-out.

Have any ideas of your own on how to sell tickets during a snowstorm?  Share ’em below.

 

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

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