Transcript: The Marketing Scrum

Music: “I Wanna Be a Producer”

Ken: Hi everybody, Ken Davenport here with our next Producer’s Perspective video.

So a lot of the questions I get asked via email are, “How do I market my show, especially when I have no money?” Well I’m going to tell you about an exercise I do on every single one of my shows, big to small, to help us really focus in on the people that are going to see the show or want to see the show and how we develop a marketing campaign to reach those people, and I call it “The Marketing Scrum.” If you don’t know what a scrum is, this is what it is.

Got it? “Scrum” is a rugby term for at the beginning . . . I don’t even watch rugby, so I don’t even know what it is . . . but they all kind of huddle together. That’s what we do. We do the marketing scrum. So whenever we get a new show I get everyone here in my conference room and I say, “It’s time to scrum.” So what we’re going to do today for you is I’m going to give you an example of how that scrum works. So the first thing I do whenever I scrum . . . I’m just going to say that word over and over again because it’s kind of fun to say . . . “scrum” . . . is come up with the name of the show. You put that big and bold right on the board. And today for this video we’re going to scrum about Godspell. Godspell was a show that I produced, a revival in 2011, and it was actually one of the first shows that I used this scrum on. So here we go, we’re going to scrum about Godspell.

So we’re going to put that title big and bold right on our whiteboard wall here . . . or actually brown-board wall, it’s a little tan. There it is. Now, Godspell. So what I do is I, again, get everybody on my staff in the same room, no matter what they do . . . company managers, general managers, front desk, interns, everybody . . . and I ask them a question. I say, “Tell me what group of audience members do you think are going to want to see Godspell. What niches, what specific types of people, are going to want to see Godspell?” So I ask that question and I wait for responses.

Off-screen voice: Churches!

Ken: Churches! That was my fantastic assistant Dylan, by the way. Churches! Yes, church groups would be a great demographic for Godspell. How about another one?

Dylan (off-screen): Stephen Schwartz fans!

Ken: Stephen Schwartz fans! Stephen Schwartz, the composer of Godspell. Great, that’s a great one. Stephen Schwartz. We could also actually riff off that a little bit and say Wicked fans, right? Stephen’s actually written like a billion musicals, so we could go on with every single one. We could say Pippin fans, which could be interesting because there was just a revival of Pippin. So this could go on and on. You could see where we go from here. What next?

Dylan (off-screen): Hunter Parrish fans!

Ken: Hunter Parrish fans! Hunter Parrish was our original Jesus in Godspell and is a bit of a celeb, so certainly, there are people that are fans of Hunter Parrish. Or specifically, to continue to build off this, fans of Weeds, the show that he was on. By the way, while we’re on Hunter, if you have not seen the video of Hunter singing “Beautiful City” from Godspell, you’ve got to check it out. We’ll try to put a link in this video. Dylan will figure it out for you.

So you can see what we do here, and we continue to do this for as long as we can come up with ideas. So we just keep going and come up with all sorts of stuff. Maybe it’ll be fans of the original, or maybe it would be people that have performed in Godspell. Godspell is one of the most highly produced shows around the country and around the world, actually, so performers in Godspell. And we would just keep going, again, until we ran out of ideas, and the wall looked something like this.

Bam! And just like that, the wall is full. Okay, it’s not completely full, but we wanted to save some time so we started to fill it up. Now we have all these niche audiences, right? So that’s step number one of the scrum, get all those niche audiences that you can, every little group you can imagine that might be inclined to see the show. Get them all up there. No idea is a bad one. Then what you do is we go around the room and we try to identify the top ten. Look, time is money, right? It takes a lot of time to go through this. So what we try to do is identify the top ten niche audiences that would get the most butts in the seats the fastest, and that’s the key. So as you rank these, when you do your own scrums, remember the two qualifications for the red pen. What makes one of these niches one of your top ten audiences to go after? They get the most butts in the seats the fastest. A lot of shows out there fail because they actually can’t get people in quick enough. We want to get people in quickly, as well as have a high number.

So what we do right now is we go around the room and we rank this and we circle the ones that we thought were the most likely, again, to send the most people the quickest. So for Godspell, Stephen Schwartz fans would definitely be one of those. Church groups would definitely be another one. We’d probably go after Hunter Parrish fans. We crowd-funded Godspell. If you don’t know what we did there, definitely Google that. It was a very unique thing. So the investors here, the People of Godspell, that would definitely be a group that we would go after. So we go through and we get all ten of these, we list all ten for you. And then here comes the fun part . . . and we’d actually do this away from the scrum. But right now, just over the course of this 30 minute exercise, we’ve identified ten niche audiences, ten specific groups, that we can go after and fire missiles, as I like to think of it, to try and get them to come see the show. These ten audiences. So what I would do is assign one of these niche groups to a group of two to three staff members, okay? Each two to three people, or frankly if you don’t have staff members, you only have one, you can brainstorm it yourself or send it to friends, whatever you like. But in my office what we do is have two to three people work on each one and each one of those people comes up with ten ideas . . . magic number, ten . . . ten ideas on how to reach Stephen Schwartz fans, on how to reach church groups, on how to reach Hunter Parrish fans.

And some of those examples of ideas might be see if there’s a Weeds Facebook page. Does Hunter Parrish have a Twitter? Stephen Schwartz fans: can we talk to the producer of Wicked and see if we can flyer outside? These simple ideas . . . and what’s great about all the ideas I just riffed on right now? All of them free. Right? That’s why the scrum is a great way to figure out how to market your show for no money, right? The key. Because in a big Broadway show, traditional advertising is going to reach a lot of these people, or the traditional theatergoers. But we want to go after them a little more focused, and that’s why we do the scrum. So then we come up with this list of ten ideas per ten, right? We have ten audiences and then we would come up with ten marketing ideas on how to reach them. Bam! Instantly we have a marketing to-do list that’s a hundred items long. A hundred items long! And it’s actually ranked, right? We know the audiences where we’d start. We’d start probably here with Stephen Schwartz fans. We’d bang off all those ten, we’d go on to the next one, church groups, and we’d bang off all those ten.

And that’s the whole idea of the scrum, to start really, really wide, the show title, that’s step number one. Step number two? Get everyone to throw up potential niche audience groups, right? Fill the wall with all sorts of different types. You’ll see some of the others, we’ve thrown Jesus Christ Superstar fans up here, we’ve thrown Ken Davenport blog readers up here, we’ve just tossed everything up you can imagine. Then we sort it, right? That’s step three. Step three is to sort it into the top ten audiences that we think are going to get the most people in the fastest. Then we come up with ten specific marketing ideas for each one of those audiences, and then we execute it. That simple. Make sense? And again, the best part of all of this and the marketing scrum is that really, it can be done for free. Most of the things you can come up with don’t cost any money. It’s all about you reaching out and putting energy behind it. I do this for every single one of my shows, and I suggest you do the same. That’s The Marketing Scrum.

If you enjoyed this, I have a lot more marketing tips on the blog. Visit Subscribe today, we’ll send you lots of stuff in the future. And please do email me and let me know what videos you want to see in the future as well, and we’ll make one for you. Thanks so much for watching!

Music: “I Wanna Be a Producer”

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.