Again, I am going to recommend that everyone read Seth Godin's book "Tribes". In fact I am going to reread it today. I am seeing it in action over the last few months. The concept is that, instead of mass marketing and slinging a net out over anonymous groups of people hoping that they will show up at your theatre's doorstep, you instead cultivate and create relationships with people who really want to hear from you. You cater to them. You delight them. You create, just for them.
They in turn become your "tribe" and are much more dependable and loyal than mere strangers who might happen upon your website, facebook page, theatre etc.
Last night we performed one of our customizable concerts at St. Anthony's in Faifield CT. They hosted an event at their church to benefit The Center for Women and Families. http://www.thecenteronline.org/
Part of the reason this event was so successful for them and for us is that Father John has a "tribe" that loves him. They go to Broadway shows together. They respect him. We did our first "In Home" event some months ago for a group of about 20 of his tribe (and ps he would hate that I am giving him credit for it being his tribe because he is so modest) At the In Home event he approach me about doing another larger concert...which became last night's event.
It sold out a couple week's beforehand. They were turning folks away. Everyone was jazzed when they arrived and the energy propelled our concert. Um....isn't that what we hope for in our theatres?
I customized the concert, as usual, and no one will see this same concert again. One section, the "Family Favorites"portion, had Bret Shuford, Fred Rose, Kate Chapman and me going into the audience to sing to them and around them and with them. I knew this crowd would eat that up and participate. I sang "Cruella Deville" to some gentlemen, Bret sang "Do I Love you because you're beautiful" to some nuns, and Kate and I brought one unsuspecting woman on stage with us to be "made over" during the song "Popular".
The dinner consisted of pasta and sauces brought by the congregation. There had to be 20 different sauces and you got to chose what you wanted. So I worked in a "Sauce Judging" competition to our show. While Bret sang "Be Our Guest", Fred, Kate and I tasted all the sauces! We had fun awards ( I bought prizes at the dollar store) like "Most Joyous sauce" or "Hotter than Hell sauce" for the five winners who had to come on stage with us.
Finally, at the end of the show, I invited them all to become part of our "tribe" too as we have our "So Ya Wanna Be a Broadway Star" and our "Holiday Show" coming up right around the corner in Bridgeport in the next months. They are already planning a large group to attend.
While it might have been easier for me to make up an eflyer. To buy lists from other groups. To mass market. Seriously, it would take less time. Less effort. The response from last night, from the At Home in Greenwich folks, from other groups that we are taking time with and helping first....is worth it. Not only because it helps us to found solidly...but because it builds a community. A tribe of people who help each other.