How to make all of your staffers into sellers.

If you’ve ever done community theater, you know that the majority of the tickets are purchased by friends and family of the people on stage.

When I did community theater, we were actually given stacks of tickets, and told to sell them to our friends and family.

It was an instant audience.

The smartest community and high school theaters chose bigger shows, knowing that the more cast members in the show, the more peeps (and parents) in the house.

Well, just because you’ve climbed the ladder of professionalism all the way to Broadway, doesn’t mean this scenario ceases to exist.  Friends and family buy tickets to Broadway shows too, and those tickets are sold mostly by the cast and crews.  Unlike smaller theatrical productions, which only run for a handful of performances, Broadway shows exhaust the friends and family audience pretty quickly.

But . . .

What if we could take this natural pattern and use it to turn the casts and crews of our shows into our sales force?

This is a perfect example of what I call “Fan-The-Flame” marketing.  If you see something is working on its own, it’s your job to blow on it . . . and blow it up.

So, how can we make this concept burn hotter?  What about this . . .

What’s the most common question you get when you meet someone new?  “What do you do?”  Right?  Now imagine you’re an actor in a Broadway show.  You can bet that the person you just met is going to be pretty excited to talk to you.  And odds are, if you tried, you could probably convert a ticket sale to your show right there on the spot . . . if you had the right tools . . . and the right motivation.

What if your show or institution adopted a sales commission strategy for all their employees on a show by show basis.  I don’t care if you’re the marketing director, the concessionaire, an actor, or a parking attendant.  Sell a ticket?  Make $1, $5 or even as high as $10.

You make more money. Your employees make more money.  No risk.

Everyone is happy.

Might you lose a few bucks by paying commission on orders that your employees probably would have put in anyway?  Maybe . . . but I guarantee that’ll quickly pay that loss back back with the motivated personnel you just put out on the streets . . . at no additional cost to you (it’s commission only).

You won’t get 100% participation from your employees..  And most will sell just a few, because as much as everyone says they want to make more money, the truth is, many don’t want to do extra work.  But I’d bet you’ll find at least one person that sells like Crazy Eddie.

Your employees should already be the greatest brand ambassadors you have.

So why not turn every single one of them into the greatest sales people you have?

Five things theater can learn from the World Cup.

Well, it took twenty years, but “football” has finally tipped in the US. I remember when my female cousin from Norway had to fight for a chance to try out for our high school soccer team.  They didn’t even have a women’s team!  (BTW, not only did she make the team, but she made the starting line-up, and scored more times than Tiger Woods at a “Golfers Who Love To Text Strippers” convention.)

Times have changed, and the number of people in New York City wearing soccer jerseys these days certainly proves it.  We’ve all got World Cup fever.

Now, how can we make that fever contagious and help spread a similar fanaticism about theater?  Here are five things theater can learn from the World Cup.

1.  NEW AUDIENCES CAN BE FOUND

People said soccer/football would never be big in this country.  It took time, but a whole bunch of people who have never watched competitive soccer are watching now.  And I guarantee they’ll watch more in the future.  While we will always need to satisfy our core audience first, we can’t ignore outreach efforts for new audiences.  They are out there.  We have to be persistent.  We have to be creative.  And we have to be accessible.

2.  PARTICIPATION IS THE KEY TO LONG-TERM GROWTH

Do you think it’s a coincidence that 25 years ago there was no girls’ team in my hometown, and no one gave a crap that Argentina beat Germany in a 3-2 squeaker?  Soccer became a bigger part of American life just a couple of decades ago . . . and now those kids are grown up, and are loving watching what they participated in.  The arts are no different.  If it were mandatory that every kid out there performed in at least one play during their high school career (and I’m not saying that it should be), Broadway would have a bigger fan base.  Today’s participants are tomorrow’s audience.

3.  GIVE ‘EM SOMEBODY TO ROOT FOR

A friend of mine is 1/4 Spanish, but you’d never know it.  If you saw him coming down the street, you’d think he was cut out of a Gap ad, the guy is so ‘American’ looking.  But somewhere along his genetic journey, he got a little Spanish blood in his system.  Well, ever since Spain started making a run at the Cup, he’s been touting that Spanish blood like he’s a direct descendant of Don Quixote!  He bought jerseys, set up viewing parties, and more.  And he doesn’t even speak the language or like the food!  When publicizing your shows, make sure you take advantage of where your cast, crew, and creatives are from, and what they do. Give the audience a way to feel connected to each person involved with your production, and they’ll passionately support your product.

4.  LESS OFTEN IS MORE EXCITING

There’s nothing like a little scarcity to make people more excited when your event rolls around.  The World Cup is only every four years.  It’s so special that people are giving up many other entertainment opportunities to make sure they don’t miss each GOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLL!  In fact, this may be the first year the World Cup has had a negative effect on Broadway ticket sales.  (We slump during other major sporting events like the Super Bowl – you don’t think this took a bite out of some biz this year?)  So maybe your show doesn’t have to do 8 shows a week.  Maybe scheduling is like a good juicy steak:  the more rare it is, the more your audience will be drooling for it.

5.  EVERYONE LOVES A COMPETITION

We’ve been watching competitions since the beginning of time.  I bet even Adam and Eve bet on the snake races.  There’s something about watching one team go up against another.  It’s why competitive sports, board games (and war), bring out such enthusiasm and pride with both players and audiences.  Shows don’t go head-to-head in the same way that sports teams do (no one has taken me up on this idea yet) but there has to be a way to make it seem like we do.  Ask yourself what would make your audience paint their face for you.

I’m no Pollyanna.  I don’t believe theater will ever compete with major competitive sports (except maybe Championship Chess Boxing or Wife Carrying).  But there is something we can learn from how they have increased their dominance on the attention span of the world.

And maybe, just maybe, 25 years from now, my kid will say, “remember when high schools didn’t have a Broadway team?”

We get a lot of scripts, so we’re gonna do something with them!

Introducing . . . The Davenport Theatrical Developmental Reading Series!

It amazes me how many passionate writers are out there in the world.

Every day, scripts are submitted to us from people just like you; people that committed their idea to paper, and now want to share it with as many people as possible.

I have been brainstorming all year on how to thank all of you for your submissions and give you some sort of props for your passion to the process.

I thought about scriptwriting contests with cash prizes, group dramaturgical sessions, and so on.  At the end of the day, I decided that what writers really want, even more than money, is to have their stuff performed.

So, I am starting the Davenport Theatrical Developmental Reading Series to do just that.

This year, DTE will produce four readings of new works (plays and/or musicals) that have been submitted to us through our regular submissions process.

In other words, we’ll help you get your show off the ground!

We will pay all expenses for the reading.   We will help you find a director if you need one.  We will help you cast your reading.  We will help you with dramaturgy.  We’ll handle RSVPs.  We’ll send out a press release.  We will prepare a post show quantitative and qualitative survey for your audience.

We will help you with whatever you need help with.

And then, we’ll all hear your piece the way it was meant to be heard . . . out loud!  Because dramatic writing doesn’t exist on paper.  It needs people to speak it, and people to see it.

The readings will take place at 8 PM on the following dates:

Monday, March 15th
Monday, June 14th
Monday, September 13th
Monday, December 13th

Location, TBD.

Whether you’re a writer or not, you should save the date, because guess who’s going to be invited first?  Yep – Producer Perspective subscribers!  (If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, you can subscribe by putting your email in the box underneath my pic.)

How do you apply for one of the four slots?  Submit your script to us by following these instructions.  Your script will automatically be considered.  (FYI, if you’ve submitted to us in the past, no need to submit the same material to us again.  We keep records of submissions and will comb through previously received scripts for consideration.)

If we select your piece, you will be contacted by the Artistic Director of the series, Jane Caplow, who will give you further instructions.

On the day of each reading, I will announce the next project for the series (i.e. I will announce the show to be read on June 14th on March 15th).

So what is the inaugural project?

On March 15th we will christen the DTDRS with Alex Webb’s Amelia, a Civil War-set romance in which two performers embody separated loves – and a diverse wider society.

See you on the 15th!

Questions:  Email Jane.
To Submit:  Click here.

 

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