I recently attended a performance of The Merchant of Venice at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The play had been moved from medieval Venice to modern-day America, starred Patrick Stewart (who much to my disappointment never once uttered the line “Make it so Antonio”) and was truly outstanding. Three hours just flew by and every minute captured my attention – which is no mean feat in my case I can tell you.
However there was one aspect of the play that not only inspired me to write this blog but also to enhance my business offering: how the actors engaged with the audience.
Whether you are a keen theatre-goer or not you are no doubt familiar with the drill: arrive at the theatre 45 minutes early; buy drinks and order more for the interval; doors open to the theatre itself 25 minutes before the performance starts and then right on the dot the curtain goes up and the play begins. Except it didn’t on this occasion.
I always like to get to my seat early so that I can read the programme in comfort so we were seated pretty much as soon as the doors opened. On stage as we entered was a man gambling at a blackjack table and a dealer presumably taking money off him. As the minutes ticked by more gamblers entered the stage then more tables and then girls serving drinks and then Elvis turned up (don’t ask) so that by the time the play began properly I had long since put the programme down and was watching the performance blossom before me.
So what was the effect? Well firstly I was pretty much engaged with the play from the moment I took my seat, secondly I think the whole audience was nicely warmed up by the time the play began and thirdly I feel I got a little something extra. Oh, another thing: in a time where everybody complains how hard it is to differentiate the RSC’s Merchant of Venice certainly succeeded in doing so and in a very positive way.
So what can we take from this? Well we all have a delivery day with our clients: the day your product arrives on site or the day that you provide your services but how can we fill the gap between order being agreed and offering being provided? What can you do to engage the client and get their interest and anticipation going so that when the real deal begins they are already engaged with you?
For my part I intend to have a 5 day countdown before a workshop takes place; each day sending a light but intriguing email which, in true 1960’s TV fashion, provides some interesting tit-bit but also leaves a question hanging which will compel them to read the following day’s email (just how will Batman and Robin escape being tipped into a vat of boiling oil after the Joker has left the scene?).
So what can you do to fill the gap between agreement and commencement which will engage your clients and also make you stand out from your competitors?
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