Thursday, August 30, 2012

Customer theatre too

We are finally going to be able to remodel our vintage 1950's kitchen and in the process we have visited a couple kitchen design places.  As we set up "measuring" appointments with the experts at each place we excitedly explored the cabinets we might want, the tiles, the appliances and so forth.

Since we wanted to get the best deals as well as the most expert advice, we set up three separate appointments to have these companies come out to the house and get all the right measurements.

Monday's measuring guy called us four times and couldn't find the house.  Ends up he was in Stratford instead of Milford, even though the sales woman had written down our address while we were in the shop.

Tuesday's guy came at 10am when the appointment was at 2pm and then called at 2pm and told us he was double booked, rescheduled it for the next day and never showed up.  

It's not like we are just toying with the idea of remodeling the kitchen. We are ready and able to do it.

So our final folks, Home Depot, have been the most professional and thorough and they will get our business.  Roy has been super professional and sat down with us for over an hour to go over all our options.

Apply to theatre:  While the guys who met with us in the actual kitchen shops were professional and helpful, the guys they sent out to do the measuring were not.  While the Artistic and Executive director of a theatre might be hard working and professional if the person running the box office is snippy or dresses unprofessionally, or messes up ticket orders, that might be the impression the public gets of the whole theatre.   If the actors are not sociable when they are hired to sing for another non profit's Gala in the name of NPT, then it reflects badly on us.  (Remember Nancy Karigan at the Disney parade mouthing 'this is so stupid' when they were one of her sponsors?)

Might be unfair, but it was enough to turn us off two kitchen supply companies.  I have a choice where I spend my money.  

It might mean more work for us, but this kind of an experience solidifies my micromanaging tendencies.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This kid will be a star!

Yesterday's Oyster Festival was a blast.   I have to thank Sharon Foran (also helping me head up our Youth Board) for suggesting we get a booth.  She, Lisa LaRusso and Humera Seyal were our makeup pros and they painted very artistic and sparkly faces from 9-6pm.

Lynn Vetare (on our board) helped with collecting the $5 per face donation till 3pm and then Lori Arsenalt and Joanne Ehresman took over after that.

We also partnered with the Miss CT pageant again and they sent no less than nine queens with sashes and crowns!  Definitely helped draw the eye of the hundreds of passerbys.  We had Shaina Arsenalt playing "Glinda" as well as Ilayda Muftuoglu as "Elphaba".  The kids who got their faces painted could also get a picture with any and all of our beauties.

We did well during the first half of the day, but I had to share with you one of the best marketing ideas I have ever had for the second half of the day.

Jonathan and a couple of his 12 year old buddies came to get their faces painted.  They wanted cats.  Jon convinced another couple boys standing there with him to get their faces done too with some of the best sales pitching I have ever heard.

There were two other face painting booths further down the strip, so I told Jonathan that if he could get other friends to come and get their faces painted I would give him a dollar out of every sale.  This star marketer took his four friends, all with faces painted now, and our "NPT Face painting, $5" sign with him and for a couple hours he actually sold a ton of friends on our booth.  Each one came up to us and said "Jonathan sent us".  Actually he walked them up to the booth and made them say that.  One-to-one marketing in action! Referral marketing!  "Product of the Product" marketing.  And besides that, he is completely fearless.

I video taped him for you so you can see that I am not making him up.  Note his use of the word "ONLY".  I did not coach this kid.  He's gonna be a star all on his own.

Hey Theatres!  Find a Jonathan! Tell your best audience members that you will do special things for them if they walk people up to your ticket booth to buy tickets.  Have a Free Opening Night and let only people who sell 5 tickets to your show attend!  They get backstage tours, and opening night party passes.  Who cares if you forfeit one night of sales if you have 15 more nights sold out!

Back to the Oyster Festival.  As a bonus: We made enough to pay for our new website design that will debut next week some time.  We gathered a ton of emails to add to our list as well.  But I only wanted them to give us their names if they truly wanted to hear from us. Permission marketing.  We got about 50 names.

Thanks to every single person who helped us out yesterday. OH and Andy, thanks for setting up and tearing down the booth!

Video of Jonathan and friends:

MORE adorable faces!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

MIlford Oyster Festival!

NPT has a booth at the Milford Oyster Festival this weekend. Saturday, 18th from 9-6pm.

Come visit us because we have at least six Miss CT gals with crowns and sashes to draw attention.  Makeup artists to paint your face with glittery designs, and some characters from Wicked to get your pictures taken with.

Five dollars for the face painting and pictures with the characters.  Fun for all.  Plus the entire festival is fun and closes down the town.  Finally at the end you can see the band "Kansas" perform.

Come see us on the Milford Green near the Milford Bank! I will try to remember to get some Iphone video to share with you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wellness Cafe et al

This past week Andy and I attended a terrific Internet Marketing convention in North Carolina.  There are many divisions in this company and one of them works with doctors and health pros.  Two cardiologists came on stage and talked about some great marketing they are doing at their office and it inspired me to...think about theatre. What's new?

Among other ideas they had their lobby/waiting area redesigned to be a "Wellness Cafe".  There are healthy drinks and tasty nutritious treats and it looks like you are in a Starbucks or trendy juice shop with tables and chairs.  While this is great for that wait you inevitably have to endure at a popular health professional's office they said some of their patients come there when they don't even have appointments. Just to hang out in the cafe that also has an Internet connection.

My question is not why some doctor has not thought of this before, because most doctors are not businessmen and women.  Most doctors went into their field because they wanted to heal people.  They felt called to use their talents to make a difference in the world of health.  While they want to make money, most of the ones I have spoken to aren't sure how to market their way out of the financial crunch they are now facing.

Most actors went into their field because they wanted to entertain folks.  Most actors feel called to use their talents to make a difference....hey wait a minute...  

I am finding this in every single field that requires a talent that is not labeled "business".  Salon owners who start their hair care shop because they wanted to use their talents to make us beautiful.  Clothing shop owners who just love fashion.  Bookstore owners who believe in literature and education.

Theatre producers who want to be sure you get to see live productions because Art is so important.

So my question is, why do some of these talented pros think of ideas like the wellness cafe as "prostituting" your Art, or Medicine, or Cosmetology.  I think to have interesting and new ideas that make the experience of your clients more enjoyable and promote an "all in one", "hang out with us"concept is fantastic! To add a side service that is creative and still goes alongside of what your main gig is makes perfect sense to our busy, need-to-do-it-all-in-one-place society.

I hear stuff like:  "My talent should be enough" or "We only want to cut hair" or "I am afraid if my patients get distracted by these other things they won't use my main service".

That is just silly talk ya'll.  If they trust you and see you as an expert in any field, they will want to hang out with you, period.  If you provide great massage therapy, having some great marketing events or other services that compliment what you do is a bonus to those of us who trust you and want your advice about wellness.

Just because we go to a museum this week doesn't mean that it is an either/or when it comes to seeing your theatrical production too.  If you offered it as a package deal with the theatre we would also be inclined to go to both because we like the "I got a deal" concept.  If you feed me I will also be delighted.

So theatres, here's an idea, why don't you have an Internet cafe and juice bar or coffee bar in your lobby that is open to the public during NON theatre going hours?  A place that folks can come, grab some coffee, meet up with friends, write on their laptops and maybe accidentally view info on your upcoming shows?

Having an idea that is out of the norm, that connects people to each other and you, that shows you are trying to make their lives more interesting, affordable, healthy and fun, is just good marketing now.  

(See picture of Andy and me at the Gala of this convention! below)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Olympic fever

At my home we are obsessed with the Olympics.  Watching everything from Volleyball (both Andy and I competed for our colleges) to archery.  When there is more than one TV station carrying the games we flip back and forth constantly, excited to see our favorites and also to learn about the sports we don't understand.

Like Sabers.  How cool is it to say you were an Olympic Saber champion like  Mariel Zagunis? They were talking about the coach of the US women's team Ed Korfanty so of course, as I do with everything important, I looked him up on Wickipedia.

What the commentator, who is also a saber competitor with this same coach as his mentor said, is that Korfanty is a great coach because he recognizes the trends in the sport and adapts.  

How old is the sport of Saber or Fencing? I will look that up later, but I bet it's pretty damn old. And this guy is open to the idea of recognizing its trends and adapting!

What a great Olympic lesson for those of us in the theater world.   Recognize the trends and adapt.  Instead of complaining about how people don't respond to this marketing or that fund raising or this show, ADAPT.  Stop trying to cram it down their throats the same old way.

And here is the fun part.  Since we are so internet based, if you mess up one effort, who cares, just adjust and continue.  The internet is free.   And if you are a "virtual" company right now, like us, you have even more flexibility to pick and roll and adjust.  I would think a company that opened real doors and then folded quickly, because the world is different than it was 10 years ago, would lose credibility pretty fast.

But a smart company that stays virtual and is creating its base first, and making smart inquiries and is coming up with creative ways to fulfill on its mission statement ie Performing, Mentoring, Reaching out to other non profits to help, that is the company that gets the gold.

Recognizing the trends also means associating with people who get that business concept.  Partnering with progressively minded folks.  People who take chances and are gogetters.  I wonder what Mr. Korfanty is doing after the Olympics.  :)

GREAT pic of Mariel Zagunis!