What do a Producer and a Politician have in common?

(Insert good punchline here.)

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I think a Producer and a Politician really have in common.

Both have to shake hands and kiss babies.

Modern CEOs of any type of company, from a company of actors to a company of accountants, can’t hide from their customers anymore.  Corporate America lost the trust of its consumers some time ago, thanks to the idiots of Enron, etc.

It’s time for us to come out from behind the desk and let the people know that there are humans behind the product, especially if that product is an artistic one that generates emotional responses from its audience.

Dave Thomas knew this, which is why his commercial campaign for Wendy’s was so successful.

How can you be like Dave?

Go to the theater.  Hang out in front of your box office.  Write your next email blast discount offer as if it’s from you.  Introduce yourself to audience members.  Or, gulp, have a blog.  (These ideas are especially useful for non-for-profit executive directors or artistic directors who have subscribers or repeat visitors.)

In short, communicate with your audience directly, instead of acting like the Wizard of Oz.

And, let your audience communicate with you . . .

Remember a few weeks ago when we talked about how it was our job to find new ways to collect an audience’s information?

Well, here’s a great way to do it.

Don’t bury your contact information on some lost page deep within your website (don’t you hate when you can’t find a company’s phone number or email address?).  Remember, you WANT your customers to talk to you.  Don’t make it hard for them to do anything that they want, whether that’s buy tickets or talk to you.

Put an email address on the home page, or close to it.  And don’t make the email address something like info@mysupershow.com.  Make it more personal like producer@mysupershow.com or yourname@mysupershow.com and encourage people to write to you by saying something like “Questions or comments about My Super Show?  Email the Producer at . . . ”

Then, do something really radical . . . respond to the people that write in.  People that take the time to write, are the ones you need to respond to.  They are your super-fans that will spread great word of mouth like a 15 year old boy spreads mono, or they are your super-complainers that need the chance to vent to a person, so they don’t spread their word of mouth like a 15 year old boy spreads mono.

Not only will you increase your brand loyalty, but, well, would you look at that . . . you just found out who your audience was.  You’re one step closer to getting all of their information and being able to communicate directly with them, without the need for a third party.  And once you have that info you can continue to communicate with them about your current project . . . or your next one.

I know this may seem like a lot of work, but this guy does it (or makes it seem that way, which is almost as good), so I’m sure you can find a way as well.

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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.