Monday, April 11, 2011


Is everyone valuable to you? Who is more valuable in terms of time spent? As we leverage our time building this theatre to ultimately create new possibilities for theatre production, how do we decide with whom to spend our time?

The potential big donor seems an obvious choice to anyone. But I think equally valuable are the “sneezers”(in viral terms) the ones who help you spread the word to more donors, audience members and important people in your area. 

Is everyone valuable to you? Of course mass marketers would say that is kind of a trick question.  Everyone is valuable. Not necessarily.  I can’t tell you what all the secrets to success are, but I can tell you how to fail: Try to please everyone. 

New marketing says that you stop the mass appeal and only concentrate on your tribe. Your like-minded tribe.  If you can only spend 10 hours a week courting new customers, new audience members or new donors, it makes sense to spend your valuable time on people who consider what you are offering….valuable! 

Then why do so many theatres spend time and money courting everyone? 

Learning from those who came before me is something I have done for 20 years in the theatre business.  I have been paying attention at all those regional houses and on Broadway.  I have had an insiders view of not only performing but also on marketing the shows.

Our approach is to nicely ignore those who are not on board with our mission until they see the light. They might never do that by the way.  But the ones who “get” it are going to more than make up for the ones who don’t.  Spending our time on those folks that are raring to go, those folks encouraging us to do our best and try new things, those are the folks we are spending our precious money and time on.

As we make trips down to Stamford to speak with important people, I am very aware of whom I want to continue talking to and on whom I need to push pause.  I think it’s the part of leadership that knows the difference between enrolling or engaging…and wasting time. 

When I get frantic about meeting up with everyone and converting them into a "tribe" members, I think back on lessons I have learned from Seth Godin and David Meerman Scott about using my time wisely and investing it in something that really matters.

Lesson 1: In fact, you can make a difference, you can start something from scratch, you can build something without authority or permission. Passionate people on a mission can make change happen.
Lesson 2: In fact, philanthropy works. Building systems and enhancing entrepreneurial outcomes generates results far bigger than the resources invested.
Lesson 3: You better be prepared to stick it out, to exert yourself, to last longer than you ever expected and to care so much it hurts.

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