by Ken Davenport, Broadway producer
I’m going to tell you a little secret.
I can’t do everything I do myself.
First and foremost, I lean on my crackerjack staff to help me get through the day to day and keep everything we do optimized and efficient.
But there’s another group of folks I rely on who you’ve never met, and probably never will.
That’s because they don’t work on Broadway. They don’t even work near Broadway.
Literally and figuratively! They are a group of entrepreneurs, digital marketers, risk-takers, rule-breakers, soothsayers, and more, from every industry you can imagine, from SAS to nutritional supplements to small business accounting.
And they’re all members of my Mastermind.
I’ve been a part of Masterminds for most of my life. For those of you who have never heard about this concept before, a Mastermind is a term coined by success guru Napoleon Hill in the late 1920s to describe one of the tools he believed was necessary to achieve big-time success. But last year, I tripled-down on my Mastermind experience by joining one that meets for two days, four times a year, to share best practices, get inspiration, network, and just get all the good ju-ju from being around people who are trying to do big things. This Mastermind costs me the same as a year of college. But in my first session, I learned more than I did during four years of school.
How? Because I’m not just learning about what it takes to work in MY industry. I’m learning what is working in other industries… industries that are light years ahead of Broadway, industries that have more dollars to spend testing best marketing practices, and industries that are evolving faster than ours in the new economy.
In fact, just one, ONE takeaway from the first weekend that I applied to the marketing of Gettin’ The Band Back Together has already recouped the cost.
During my sessions, I gather all sorts of real-world case studies of what is working and what is not, and apply it to what I do (produce and create Broadway shows)… and now… I can share it with you.
I’m kind of a knowledge smuggler. And if you won’t tell, I won’t either.
My most recent Mastermind was a few weeks ago, and as always, it was chock-full of takeaways. And, for the first time, I thought I’d share five of them with you… some specific, some general, and all with the potential to provide serious ROI when applied.
Here are five things I stole from my Mastermind for you:
1. When it comes to web design, think mobile first.
All websites should have a purpose. They are designed to get you to do something. A Broadway show’s website is designed to get you to buy tickets. So, all of the e-commerce discussions we had were about how to get our customers to do what we want, faster and more often. (Conversion is the key.)
What I learned was that when designing NEW websites, the top designers and marketers are no longer designing a site and saying, “How will this look on a desktop?” Now they are thinking about how the site will look (and convert) on a mobile device BEFORE they think about how it will look on a desktop! That’s right. Mobile first. Desktop second. (This is even more important for us in the tourist market who aren’t even near a desktop when they are considering buying tickets to a show.)
2. Are you on Instagram?
Twitter is tweetin’ off into the distance and Instagram is fast becoming the social media place to be to market your brand. And thanks to their parent company, Facebook, expect Insta to expand over the next few years.
Several companies we spoke to have several accounts… one of the brand, and one for the individual (CEO, Founder, etc.) behind the brand. People want to buy from people. Not from companies. Your show should be on Insta. But so should you. So should your actors. And tell your “friends” to follow your people on Instagram. If they get fans, your show will get them by association.
3. You’re Not That Important…
This was one of my favorites. A question came up asking how often we should place ads, send emails, communicate with our customers, etc. Because of course, so many people are worried about drowning their customers with too much messaging. One of our guru marketers answered this query best when she said, “Just because you send it, doesn’t mean they see it!” In other words, you’re not that important to your customers as you are to yourself. You may think they are reading everything, clicking everything, but they just aren’t.
This means you’re going to have to follow up, remind, advertise, email, etc., more often than you think in order to capture a consumer’s attention in today’s cluttered market. One entrepreneur told us he runs the exact email sales campaign every two months to the same list . . . word for word . . . and it sells the same amount every time and no one, no one, has ever said, “I just got this message last month.”
4. There is remnant real estate everywhere.
Pop up stores have been popping up all over the country, and we had a whole session on negotiating deals with landlords to try and secure some temporary space at a much-reduced rate. I can’t help but think how valuable remnant real estate could be for theater companies, emerging playwrights, etc. In fact, I think someone should start a theater company called, “Pop-Up Theater Company” and it should only do shows in remnant real estate. Need space? Look around for unconventional places, because landlords are much more open to this possibility than they were five years ago.
5. We have the ability to…
I told you that one of the reasons Masterminds exist is to relight the fuse that sometimes gets snuffed out in the day-to-day grind of trying to do something super. Well, on the way out the door, our farewell speaker reminded us that every single one of us, no matter what we do, had the ability to change people’s lives. Nutritional supplements can help people get healthier. Dating websites can help cure loneliness. Accountants can help business owners make more money so they can take their kids to Disney. And I’d argue that not one of those professions can change people’s lives as much as someone who works in the theater.
So remember as you go about your day-to-day… yes, think about how to be a smarter marketer, and what unconventional space you can use for your next show . . . but also remember, you have the power to change lives. That’s what great art does.
So let’s do it.
Ken Davenport is a Broadway producer whose credits include Once On This Island, The Play That Goes Wrong, Groundhog Day (Tony nomination), Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening (Tony nomination), and 13. Ken’s productions have been produced internationally in over 25 countries around the world. In addition to his own work, Ken was recently named the Executive Producer of North America for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.