GUEST BLOG by Sara Fitzpatrick: 5 ways to make sure you’re ACTUALLY connecting with your audience online

The Internet is the child of Al Gore and that’s why we capitalize it like a first and last name.

The Internet is the end.

The Internet is the beginning.

The Internet has made virtual space more valuable than physical space.

The Internet is___________.

All these statements about The Internet are equally true… including the blank statement. So if The Internet is and is not all of these things, how do you use it as an effective marketing tool? This has become an increasingly important question as the days of treating digital as an afterthought are gone. The Internet is constantly evolving, but here are some approaches I’ve discovered from my fifteen years of digital marketing to make sure I’m actually connecting with an audience online.

1. Exercise empathy

If you’ve ever secretly wanted to be an actor, here’s your opportunity to get method.

Start looking at things from the audience’s point of view. The days of big brands shaming people into buying a lifestyle are gone. Now, it’s about welcoming them into your brand world and engaging them in a dialogue. This is not to suggest people will ever stop buying things out of a place of deep shame, that will never get old for some of us! But thinking that people want to hear a monologue about a brand from a rigid entity is outdated and ineffective. Modern marketing engages your audience in a conversation where they feel welcomed into your brand world.

So, if your marketing strategy is based on a dialogue, you need to define your voice. But how do you do that?

2. Create and abide by your brand guide

Your show is meant for somebody and the better you can figure out who that person is, the more effectively you can reach them.

What does your show’s brand pyramid look like?
What are its key attributes?
Who are your competitors?
What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
What does the consumer look like for your show?
What are the visuals, tone and creative that will best convey your brand message to your most likely consumer?

When you’re able to clearly abide by that brand voice you can generate tailored, high-quality materials. The digital space may be a person’s first touch point for your brand, so pay attention to what you’re saying. The quality of your content online is more important NOW more than ever, which leads us to the next guideline–

3. Weight quality over quantity

Your brand voice in the conversation will come through in the content you create. Be thoughtful; it’s easy to understand why consumers are increasingly wary of anything online. Create quality content you stand behind. Once you’ve created this content, you need to be strategic about where it goes.

Advertising is not always content and content is not necessarily advertising. What’s impactful in print may equally fall flat on a smartphone. The time and effort spent creating content that tells us what your brand voice is will be wasted unless you’re also smart about where it’s being heard. Different advertising and social media platforms have taken on distinct personalities; personalities you need to consider for your messaging.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that even if someone isn’t “following” you, it doesn’t mean they’re not engaged. Consumers are using social media as a research tool for brands instead of blindly following them—which is another reason your brand voice needs to be consistent and true. A new user is as likely to see your Instagram post as a loyal fan. “Followers” don’t carry the same amount of weight as they used to because they don’t necessarily translate to popularity or customers and vice versa. And speaking of followers….

4. Beware of fake news

Bots and followers leave everyone with that uncanny valley feeling: looking at a face that appears human but isn’t actually a flesh-and-bone human being. It’s a vile and insidious feeling. You’re unable to trust that anyone is who…or even what they say they are. I feel horrible even talking about it, I need to go buy something.

Buying followers and utilizing bots is a big example of putting quantity or quality… or quantity over reality. We don’t buy bots and I would never recommend it to anyone. Not only because it’s an ethically grey area, but because it’s not actually helpful in gathering insights for your brand. It really has more to do with how the audience is reacting to your product. How is the audience growing? What are the elements of your marketing matrix that drive traction and interaction? What are the messages that spark the most engagement? Fake follower data isn’t going to help you with that.

And alongside bots, the last important trap to avoid in your path to becoming the Beyoncé of branding-

5. Just because your friends are jumping off the bridge…

Just because everyone is buying New York Times triple trucks in July, doesn’t mean you should too. ALWAYS consider your brand voice and be loyal to it. Like your savvy customers, you can see what the competition is doing as research, but that doesn’t mean you should blindly follow and do the same thing.

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Sara Fitzpatrick is the Founder and President of ARTHOUSE, a full-service media agency that partners with forward-thinking web advertisers in the strategy and design of innovative brand campaigns. Their services include branding, content creation, social management and media buying with a focus on how creative drives campaign success.

You can hear her podcast interview with Ken here.

Three blogs that I read that you should too.

I want you to cheat on me.

Seriously.  I want you to register on the Ashley Madison of the bloggin’ community and have an affair.

As a blog writer, I also have to be a blog reader, and I read a bunch of them.  And I have to say that when I started my own personal bloggin’ adventure seven years and over 5,000 posts ago, there weren’t many theater blogs out there.  And now, well, we’ve got a whole gaggle of them (including the Shuberts themselves), plus tons of tweeters, and Instagrammers, and more.

But the three blogs I want you to look at have nothing to do with theater.

I’m a big believer in looking for inspiration outside of the world we live in every day.  A common question I hear from people in the Broadway world is, “Why do we keep doing the same thing over and over?”  Maybe that’s because we’re too inside our own little bubble.

It’s time to burst that bubble and see what the rest of the world is doing.  And that’s why I encourage you to read folks who write about other subjects besides the theater.

Here are three blogs I recommend you read and why:

1.  Seth Godin

Seth’s is the first blog I ever read.  His seminar was the first seminar that I ever took (and I modeled my own after his).  And his fingerprints are all over everything I do.  He preaches customer service, the power of the crowd, and most importantly, how being unique or remarkable in your marketing or your product development is the key to success.  Read his blog here.  And if you want a quick summation of his teachings, read this book.  It helped define my style.

2.  James Altucher

James is a newbie on my reading list.  He’s a straight shootin’ guy who made a lot of money, and lost even more.  He was broke, divorced, suicidal . . . and turned it all around.  Several times.  He has a simple plan of how to achieve success (hint – a lot of work, a little at a time), combined with practical advice on everything from starting your own business, investing in the stock market (hint – a lot of work, a little at a time), to just getting up every day, and taking on whatever challenges the world throws at you.  I find myself nodding a lot when I read his posts.  Read the blog here (and check out his podcast too).

3.  Copyblogger

Now this is where we get technical yo.  Copyblogger is one of the great and early granular marketing blogs on the web . . . mostly focused on, well, copy.  Although they’re going through a platform shift (soon to be Rainmaker) it is one of the greatest blogs I’ve read about online marketing.  You’ve heard me preach before how one of the things that I think Broadway shows are overlooking entirely is building an email list and marketing to that email list.  Instead we depend on buying other people’s lists.  Why should we buy other people’s if we have our own, right?  Copyblogger teaches you how to build a list and how to get people on that list to buy.  Read it here.

So it’s ok.  Click those links.  Cheat away.  I don’t believe in blog-onomy.  And our relationship will be even stronger for it.  Just be safe.

And always come home to me.

 

(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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FUN STUFF:

– Looking for a job, or want to tell the world about your upcoming show?  Do it in our forum!  Click here.

– Win 2 tickets to see Daddy Long Legs Off Broadway!  Click here.

– Follow Spring Awakening‘s journey to opening night!  Click here to read The Associate Producer’s Perspective.

Look who is bloggin’ now?

Last week I wrote a blog with my 5 Tips to Starting a Theater Blog.  And lo and behold, one appeared!

Ok, truth time – this new blog didn’t have anything to do with my post, but it’s still a blog that we all should must read.  Why?  Well, it’s written by someone who has access to more ticketing data than anyone in the biz . . . the Shuberts themselves!

Check out the new Shubert Ticketing Blog here (with articles by The Swami himself!).

The most recent entry?  “What’s the Problem with Wednesday Nights?”  Or as I like to call it?  Why does Wednesday night (the worst performance of the week when it comes to grosses) suck so bad?  Is it because it’s “hump day”?  Is it because there’s a matinee for most shows that day?  Is it because Survivor is on?  

Read the blog to find out.

And a big thank you to the Shuberts for opening up their data and sharing their info with us.

Now, let’s just hope they read my tips and have picked that publishing schedule . . . because I can’t wait to see what they come out with next.

 

(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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FUN STUFF:

– Come to my 7th Annual Producer’s Perspective Social on 12/11! Click here to RSVP.

– Get started producing with Producing 101. Click here.

– Win The Untold Stories of Broadway Volume 2!  Click here!

Why do people get so upset when they see a Standing O?

The always Smart ‘N Snarky John Simon wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago airing his disgust about the ubiquitous standing ovation.  (If you don’t know JS, the quick intro is that he was quite a respected critic for a whole bunch of publications until he was fired from his Bloomberg post in 2010.  The whispers in Shubert Alley were that he was dismissed for being too “mean”.  That’s a subjective opinion, of course.  I always thought his reviews were fun, although I do seem to recall a write-up for Footloose where he he mocked the ensemble for being unattractive.)

In the blog, John hypothesizes that since he sees audiences stand up at almost every show they see that they are A) stupid or B) standing up to try and convince themselves the high price of the ticket was worth it.

Of course, John isn’t the first person, critic or otherwise, to complain about standing ovations at shows that aren’t “worthy”.  I’m sure you’ve been weirded-out when a show has gotten that kind of response when you felt it didn’t deserve it, right?  Kind of makes you mad?   I’ll admit that I’ve seen a couple shows (this season, in fact), that left me shaking my head as to what motivated the audience to get off their bums and on their feet.

But when I read John’s column, I started to wonder . . .

Why do we care what motivates a person to stand up?

A person that stands up at the end of a show has enjoyed their experience.  And when a person enjoys their experience, they are more likely to repeat it.  That = good.

And BTW, if you’ve stood on a stage, you know that a Standing O can mean a heck of a lot to those that devote their life to a career in the theater.

So, while you, or me, or John Simon, may not understand why some people jump to their feet at the end of a specific movie-turned-musical, we shouldn’t be POed that they did.  John says that they are “devaluing the standing ovation”.  Ok, maybe they are.  Maybe the Standing O is less rare and so it’s devalued.

But I’d argue that they are increasing the value of their own personal theatergoing experience.

And I’ll jump to my feet about that, 8 times a week.

 

(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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FUN STUFF:

– Win 2 Tickets to One Man, Two Guvnors!  Click here!

– Win $500 in our 10 Minute Play Contest.  Click here to enter!

– Take a Broadway Road Trip from Larchmont, NY on 6/2.   Click here!

 

5 New Things About My Blog

Well, what do you think?

If you’re looking at this blog online, you’re looking at a whole new look.  (If you’re reading this via email, then you’re also seeing a new look, but click here  to see the total new PP experience.)

Since it’s Spring Cleaning time, we thought we’d give my blog a wet-nap and clean her up a bit.  Truth is, we’ve given her a little master-cleanse as well, to flush out her insides to help your online experience even more.

Here are five new features about the design that you may/may not notice:

  • We’ve made the switch from TypePad to WordPress.  Sorry, TP, you served me well, but I fell in love with WP when I wrote my Godspell Blog, and it can do things you can’t.
  • All upcoming seminars are in one easy-to-find place, right to the right.  I received a bunch of emails from people who missed seminars just because they didn’t know when they were.  So here they are, for all to see.
  • There’s a menu bar at the top, which includes some of the previous design’s most popular links.  Also, check out the search box.  Want to read blogs about “crowdfunding”?  Just type budget in the box and away you go.
  • The “Leave a Comment” button has moved from the bottom of the entry to right underneath the headline.  So check it out and click it often.

And finally . . .

  • I finally got rid of that photo of me with the ripped jeans-look from like 2005.  I went with the navy jacket/white shirt.  I figure that can never go out of style.

Let me know what you think of the new design and the new experience!  Click that comment button (on the headline, remember?) or drop me an email to give me any feedback and we’ll continue tweaking the look as we go.

And just like a show in previews, we’re still working out our kinks, so if you notice anything that isn’t quite right (or want to suggest something to make it better), email me and let me know!

Now that we’ve got a new look . . . it’s time to come up with some more new ideas for the theater.

 

(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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FUN STUFF:

– Broadway Investing seminar on 4/14.  Register today!

– Take a Broadway Road Trip from DC on 4/28.  Click here.

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