Everyone likes to feel like they saw something special.

I went to see Paul Simon last night.

And after the hour and a half set of killer music, we got to the perfunctory encore.  Paul came and went a couple more times to tumultuous applause and gave us a couple more tunes.

It was great.

But I had to think about how special encores felt before they were status quo.  An audience member had to think, “Oh my . . . I’m seeing something that doesn’t usually happen!  I’m special!”

And when you’re a part of something special, what do you do?  You talk about it.

Theater audiences like to feel special too, especially since, let’s face it, they know they’re getting a product that is part of an eight-show-a-week assembly line.

Encores are a little tricky in our business . . . because it doesn’t make much sense in a show to save our best song for after the curtain call.  Repeating a song would be interesting, and some have tried with reprises or the more involved mega mix.

But what else can we do to make the audience feel that they are seeing something special that every other audience doesn’t get to see, so that they’ll be more inclined to talk-about-it?  (Slight digression, but do you want to break out into this song every time someone says “talk about?”)

Well, there’s the planned “mistake,” where a screw-up is written into the script, like in Will Rogers Follies, when a dog from the dog act made an “unexpected” entrance in a scene . . . eight times a week.  Or in Falsettos, when a crash offstage made it look like some scenery had gone astray.  These always get people talking since it is one of the reasons we go to the theater in the first place (and for more on this, read this blog I wrote three years ago).

Shows with audience participation have this built-in to their structure, since no two audiences will ever see the same show . . . which can create some fun competition between audience members. (“I saw a better show!”  “No, I did!”)

Impressive understudies often create unique performances, but no one is gonna want to make a habit of putting on a understudy to jump start some word of mouth (hmmmmm . . .).

Everyone likes to feel that the products they buy (especially luxury products, like theater tickets) are just for them.  It’s why custom suits, monogrammed shirts and engraved jewelry are popular.

If we could somehow make our audience feel like every night was like a custom made golf club, our patrons would show that off much more.

 

(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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– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar in NYC and in Minneapolis!  Click here!

– Take the Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar in Minneapolis on May 15th.  Click here!

– Come to the Social in Minneapolis.  Click here!

– Enter to win 2 tickets to see Lombardi on Broadway!  Click here.

What to do with your kids when you go to the theater.

Yesterday we talked about how life’s many obstacles can get in the way of a customer making a purchase.

So today, I thought we’d look at one of those obstacles and try to extract it from their path.

One of the biggest obstacles I hear about, especially from folks in their mid-30s, is also one of life’s greatest blessings (insert sigh here) . . . kids.

Having kids cramps nightly activities for couples . . . and the first one to go, is often the theater.  (I’d bet that this is one of the reasons theatergoing is reserved for the 45+ set)

So, great marketers out there . . . if this is an obstacle, how can we remove it?

Here are a few ideas off the top of my bean:

  • How about emergency notification phone numbers so an usher can get you out of your seat if there is a problem with your toddler?
  • What about partnering with a babysitting service to offer a few hours of time with each pair of full price tickets purchased?
  • Or wait, what about offering actual babysitting services at the theater?!  It’s the Bible-study model, where the kids go off together, while the parents hit the church. The Gershwin Theatre has a huge lobby and a giant rehearsal room upstairs . . . it would be perfect.  And you could teach them all about theater, inspiring them to become audiences of the future!
  • Why leave the kids at home?  Bring ’em . . . for free, or for the cost of a movie ticket.  (Recommend special seating that puts them close to a door in case their kid wants to run . . . or gets a case of the runs.)

Will any of these work?  I don’t know.  You’ve got to try them to find out . . . but they are certainly not going to hurt.  And you just may stumble upon something that prevents your customer from stumbling on the way to purchasing a ticket.

I’m sure all of you can come up with a whole bunch more ideas for this one huge (albeit very cute) obstacle that keeps a lot of folks at home.  Comment below!

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar in NYC and in Minneapolis!  Click here!

– Take the Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar in Minneapolis on May 15th.  Click here!

– Come to the Social in Minneapolis.  Click here!

– Enter to win 2 tickets to see Lombardi on Broadway!  Click here.

Why great marketers should study obstacle courses.

Selling tickets to a show?

Guess what?  There are thousands of people that are interested in buying a ticket.

So why are you having trouble filling your house?

Something gets in their way.

Between interest and purchase lie oodles of obstacles that trip your customers up before they end up at your box office.  Or sometimes those obstacles look so scary that your customers don’t even bother to start the course.

What might some of those obstacles be?  They could be a whole bunch of things, like the price of your tickets, the parking at the theater, and so on.  Every show and every theater may share some, but most likely also have their own.

So many marketers think that their job is solely to create interest in their product.

But that’s only half the job.

Job #1 is to create interest.

Job #2 is to remove (or reduce) obstacles.

And both are equally important.

But don’t assume you know what your customers’ obstacles are.  You’ve got to find out exactly what is in their way before you can remove it.

Want a case study?

During the first few weeks of selling The Awesome 80s Prom, my sales team (which consisted of me and my yellow lab puppy in my apartment) noticed that a bunch of groups were taking forever to purchase, despite call after call of inquiry. And let me tell you, there ain’t nothing more frustrating than hearing people that want to buy, but don’t . . . especially when you’re trying to get a show off the ground.  When I asked a few customers what the hold up was, I kept hearing about the same obstacles.

Obstacle:  “It takes me a long time to explain what the show is and to get everyone to pick a date.”

Removal:  Create custom email invitations that they could forward on to their friends, or offer to send the emails for them.

Or this one.

Obstacle:  “I don’t want to pay for the entire group myself. I don’t even know some of these people!”

Removal:  Create custom codes that could be sent to each group member so they could purchase their seats individually but still be a part of the same group.

Finding out about your customers’ obstacles and then clearing the pathway to purchase will make your customers happier and your grosses healthier.

 

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

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar in NYC and in Minneapolis!  Click here!

– Take the Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar in Minneapolis on May 15th.  Click here!

– Come to the Social in Minneapolis.  Click here!

– Enter to win 2 tickets to see Lombardi on Broadway!  Click here.

Goodnight. Goodnight. Sleep well . . . Arthur Laurents.

Arthur Laurents was the architect of the great American musical.

He wrote some of the greatest shows on earth, including the books to Gypsy and West Side Story.  But he did more than write musicals.  He directed them too.  And he directed movies.  And he wrote movies . . . and plays and books and he was still doing it all until he passed away yesterday . . . at the age of 93.

Two of those ninety-three years would be more of a career than most of us could ever dream about.

The G word is thrown about a little too often in my opinion, but for Mr. Laurents, it’s more than applicable.

The man was a Genius.

He also wasn’t the easiest guy in the world to get along with.  And I think he’d be proud to tell you just that.  (Don’t believe me?  Read his autobiography.)  If he didn’t like you, you were toast.  I had the pleasure of working with him on the Gypsy revival with Bernadette Peters in 2003 and luckily, I was more of a bagel.

But the thing is . . . Whether he was difficult, or easy . . . doesn’t matter, because there was one thing that he was 99.99% of the time whenever he was talking about the theater.

He was . . . right.

In the handful of conversations I had with him, I learned more about musical theater than I could in any book or any classroom.

Broadway lost a forefather yesterday.  Someone pick a theater and name it after him already.

 

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

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar in NYC and in Minneapolis!  Click here!

– Take the Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar in Minneapolis on May 15th.  Click here!

– Come to the Social in Minneapolis.  Click here!

– Win 2 tickets to see Chicago on Broadway.  Click here!

 

Play my 2011 Tony pool! You can win an iPad!

Mmmmmm, Tony Award.

Mmmmmm, iPad.

Put ’em together and you get . . . my 2011 Tony Award Pool!

Yep, every year we let you be the Tony Voter.  Who do you think is going to win?

Pick the winners and you could be walking around with a brand spankin’ new iPad Deux.

Now, this might all seem like fun & games (and it is) but picking Tony Winners is a big part of what Producers do.  If you’ve got a good eye, you could be beating the Broadway game for reals, yo.

So let’s see what you’ve got!

To play, click the link below and pick away!

PLAY KEN’S 2011 TONY POOL!

Some rules and regs:

– Only one entry per reader.  Multiple entries will disqualify all of your entries.

– To play, you must be an email subscriber to the blog.  If you are not an email subscriber, use the box on the upper left corner of this page to subscribe now.  If you are already an email subscriber, you do not have to resubscribe.

– Make sure you fill out ALL of the information on the “Verification Page” of your entry.  Incomplete entries (and there were a few last year) cannot be counted.  And that’s a major bummer.

– When asked for your email on the “Verification Page”, make sure you enter the same email that you use to subscribe to the blog. It’s how we verify who you are.

Got it?  Good!

So PLAY TODAY and you can win an iPad!

Click here to enter.  Hurry voting closes on Tony Sunday June 9, 2011 at 11:59 PM!

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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