How NOT to invite people to your show…

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Sad-Puppy-Face-PictureOur Fringe Festival show closed this weekend, and I’m all out of sorts.

Sad face.

You know the feeling.

You give your soul to a project.  You make new friends, open your heart, spill your guts.  You become a family, spending nights weekends and all your spare time together in service of the show.

And just as you’re getting into your groove…it ends.  The show closes.  Your family scatters.  Life goes back to “normal.”

(Ugh, anything but a life of normalcy, please!)

I’ll be spending the rest of the week coming down from the high of live theatre, processing the experience, and celebrating what we accomplished!

(Throw in some 4th of July fireworks and my birthday *coughcoughcough*July6*coughcough* and we’ll call it a weekend!!!)

As much as I loved my Hollywood Fringe Festival experience, I did see some bright shining examples of what NOT to do when it comes to inviting people to your show.

Let’s break down what did NOT work, and what most certainly did.

How NOT to invite people to your show

Walk up to a table of strangers who are clearly engrossed in conversation, enjoying a beverage, throw postcards in their face while yelling “Come see our show!” and then run away.

IMG_5363The Festival had Fringe Headquarters set up for festival goers and performers to hang out before and after shows.  It had a bar, a food truck, live music, a step & repeat and I spent multiple hours there the past few weeks.

And every time I was there, someone threw a postcard (or a gift bag) at our group, and basically ran away.

At first I laughed at this obviously ineffective tactic.  Until I realized how common it was.  It happened so often I eventually lost count.

As an actor-marketing coach I was genuinely disheartened.  (But on second thought, it makes me even more appreciative of the folks who read this blog and work with me as clients.  You are truly outstanding and incredibly rare!)

It’s probably obvious at the very least that the throw-a-postcard-and-dash-away (TAPADA) technique doesn’t work.

But let’s talk about why it doesn’t work.

When you show up to a situation saying “do something for me!” it’s a turn off.  Especially if it’s a first encounter with a complete stranger that you haven’t even bothered to say hello to.

This is not just the case for in person interactions.  I see a lot of actors on twitter leading conversations with “watch my reel” “click my link” “read my script” before they’ve introduced themselves to the person they are asking.

You must earn the right to ask people to do things for you.

If even one of the people at Fringe HQ had started a conversation, said hello, asked us what brought us to the fringe, anything at all, they might have just landed themselves a supportive audience.

I saw a lot of missed opportunities.

Ultimately, this assault and flee technique completely disregards the most important part of any professional encounter: the relationship.

What TO do instead

I also had a great experience (and a powerful reminder) of what TO do when inviting people to your show (or requesting a meeting, or looking for your next collaborative partnership, getting your script read…).

Meet Marcus Wells.IMG_5388

(He’s in the Georgetown sweatshirt)==>

I met him in the lobby of our show, on my way in to see the next performance.  I was already done with my run of the show, but showed up to support my fellow cast members.

As I made my way to the entrance, this kid caught eyes with me and yelled “Heyyyy! 52 Pick Up! I loved your show!”

Apparently Marcus had seen one of my performances and was back for another show.  (If you missed the 52 Pick Up description – it’s a love story told with 2 actors, in 52 scenes, which are shuffled like a deck of cards.  The order of every show is completely random, unique, and showcases a different set of actors.  No show is ever the same).

Part of our goal during the Fringe Festival was to entice audience members to attend multiple times, so Marcus doing just that was a big success for us.

After the show, we got to chatting.  It was then that he shared that not only had he, and multiple friends, loved the show and seen it more than once, but they had written audience reviews on our Fringe page, AND recommended us as one of their top picks for the festival on The Lemon Lounge – a show dedicated to all things related to the Fringe.

Naturally I was impressed.  Not only for Marcus’s genuine excitement about our show, but the steps he had taken to help us build a wider audience.  All because he liked what we were doing.

It was only after all of this – the multiple viewings, the personal review, the video interview and recommendation, that he handed me a postcard and said,

“I’m in a show at the Fringe too.  I would love for you to come.  It’s our last weekend.”

Without batting an eyelash I told him, “I’ll be there.”

And I meant it.

It wasn’t a strategy or a gimmick or a ploy.

Marcus was a genuine fan of my work, our show, and had personally taken a lot of steps to share his enthusiasm with others.

How awesome is that?

I was excited for the opportunity to return that level of support.

That’s how relationships work.  You connect over shared values, common goals and experiences.  You offer your support and in return, that support comes back to you.  He didn’t demand that I see his work.  He didn’t guilt me into it.  He just asked.  But he more than earned that ask.

This high school sophomore has a great handle on “marketing” – which is to say, building relationships with people you like, respect, want to work with, feel connected to.  At it’s core, that’s what marketing is really all about.  Relationships with the people who get you.Meeeeee

The show, Generation Me The Musical, was outstanding!  Marcus is a great performer, and the show is a powerful look at the amazing, awful, heart breaking, life changing high school experience in today’s oh-so-connected and supremely lonely world.

If you’re in NYC, the show will appear at the New York Fringe Festival next month.  Check it out and say hello to Marcus!

And a big shout out to Liam O’Donnell who highly recommended our show and also rocks the lead role of Generation Me.  Truly, these young actors are phenomenal.

When it comes to relationship building, focus on quality over quantity.  Put what you can give before what you can get.  And remember not everyone will like what you have, but the ones that do should be treated like gold.

Leave a comment.  What makes you say yes to things?  When did you ask for something that turned into a yes?  Share your stories below!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Trev July 1, 2014 at 8:06 pm



Rebecca Morris July 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm

‘When it comes to relationship building, focus on quality over quantity. Put what you can give before what you can get.’ Thank you for this reminder Emily! I’m delving into relationship building now and it’s good to be remember that I cannot be a relationship factory, it takes time, genuine care and commitment to a real human being to human being connection. You’re awesome.


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