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 http://www.elitehealth.com/ 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)