Tony Award-winner Ken Davenport has produced a long list of Off-Broadway and Broadway shows. He's also known for his innovative marketing stunts, and we delve deeper into these during the episode.
His marketing methods may not be conventional, but they are inspirational and can be adapted to raise awareness no matter what your product or market.
It's the antidote to marketing bullshit.
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Louis: Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates Marketers.com. The no fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I'm your host. Louie Grenier. In today's episode, you will learn how to get free press for Off Broadway and Broadway shows and get ideas for your marketing, for your products whatever the industry.
My guest today is one of Broadway's most influential businessmen and a very busy guy known for his marketing stunts. Even has a Wikipedia page, which shows how big of a deal he is. Now we've never touched on Theater, Broadway and all of that. And I'm going to define it briefly, which my guest today might find a bit weird, but Broadway, we do first. So there's 41 professional theaters in New York City. Right.
And this kind of the epicenter of these, those type of shows in the world. My guest is a Tony award winning Broadway producer. I mean, he's, he's, he's produced many shows that my wife knows, which is always a good sign. I'm not gonna list them all because it literally took me five solid minutes.
Also has a blog that's been featured in many, many places, including New York magazine and Vanity Fair. Anyway, he's also known for his marketing stunt, and we're going to talk about that a lot. So Ken Davenport, welcome aboard.
Ken: Thank you very much for having me here. It's a pleasure.
Louis: We had some awful trouble before starting this episode, which never really happened, but anyway, it happened now.
So let's talk straight away about what matters the most to put our listeners on what I feel you are probably one of the best in the business ads, which are. What I would call marketing stunts or you know, things to make other people, the press talk about you. If you had to pick your most successful marketing stunt, the one thing that you've done in your career that worked the best, what would it be?
Ken: So that's an easy one. It was the one that got me on the homepage of CNN and mentioned in Jay Leno's monologue on the Tonight Show back in about 2009 I believe. And it was a show called My First Time which is about exactly what you think it's about. It was a Vagina Monologues-esc evening for actors, two men, two women telling true stories about their first sexual experiences.
So it was an example of what I call, the first example of what I call Theater 2.0. So it was user generated content. So I optioned a website called My First Time.com. I called through like 40,000 stories that were anonymously submitted, a lot of late night reading and put, I wrote a play based on these stories. Monologue snippets, also funny stories, sad stories, tragic stuff like everything you could imagine, because first sexual experiences are one of the few things that almost every single person on this planet has in common.
Right. When you think about it, except some monks somewhere, you know, almost everybody is doing it, but at the same time, rarely talking about it. And that's actually what I believe makes for great theater or a great conversation and great marketing. Right. It's something that everyone's got going on in their head.
We share it in common, but no, one's talking about. So what a great drama does is open up the doors for that conversation to happen, because we're all curious about it. How is theirs? Oh mine was awful, this and that. So when I was writing the play and this is, this is the most important part of my formula for creating marketing stunts.
If you will, is that I remember thinking like, you know, who should see this.? Virgins should see this show because that is the most important audience for me, because I wanted to demystify the experience in a way, because as I was writing it, I realized there were some awful statistics. A very high percentage of people losing their virginity when they were drunk or under the influence of drugs. Like a lot of things that were like, this is not good. And what we need to do is educate. And the best way to educate, I believe is through entertainment, right? Because it's like what I call the spoonful of sugar approach. People don't realize they're getting taught something because they're being entertained at the same time.
So I remember thinking, Oh, you know, this will be wonderful if I can get teenagers to come with their parents and it'll be great. So flash forward, six months later, I'm about to open the show and I'm trying to increase awareness, right? Because this is the biggest problem for anyone, doesn't matter what your product is, or what your business is . If you're entering a market, especially a competitive market. Your biggest problem is awareness because it doesn't matter how good your product is. If there, if it's cluttered and Broadway is the most cluttered market on the planet, if it's cluttered, you're never going to compete with the big boys that are going to outspend you. They've been around for 10, 20 years. [Want to break through all the marketing clutter? Learn how.]
Like, forget it. It's like trying to introduce a new soft drink. Like, forget it. It's way hard. So what you need to do is something, big, right. To get attention without spending money. Because once again, anyone that says, Oh, I'm going to start a new product that I'm just going to try to go up against, well, razors are the perfect example.
I'm going to go against Gillette or I'm going to go against Bic. No, that's not what Dollar Shave Club did. They didn't try to outspend them. Right. They tried to underspend them actually. And that's how they created the market share that they did. So I take the same, the same idea. And I remember thinking, okay, I need to do something big.
Well, what's my mission for the show? My mission is to get virgins, to see it. So why don't I let virgins come in free for the first performance? So that seemed like an interesting idea to me and to a lot of people. And then I was like, it's not enough. And then what usually people, when I tell people that story, they usually say, but how did, how could you tell. if they were a virgin or not? So I hired a human lie detector, someone with a PhD in nonverbal communication, reading, body language, handwriting analysis the whole bit. And I put him at the front of the line at the box office. To ask questions. Where are you from? How old are you? Write your name. And he could tell if people were a virgin or not based on this little question. So.
Louis: What was the success rate?
Ken: Well, that's a whole other thing because...
Louis: You can't check right?
Ken: This is New York City. So the funny thing is that as you could imagine, that story blew up. So it took about three days, but the associated press picked up on the press release and sent it worldwide. And that's when it started to appear on the homepage of CNN every TMZ you name it.
I did interviews with every major television station and radio station. Jay Leno did a joke about it, but someone said to me, are you worried that you're going to have way too many people, you're not going to have enough room in the theater? And I said, this is New York City. Not many virgins here,number one and two, if there are, they're not going to admit it. And actually, as I said, that it was a bit of a joke. I thought, Oh my gosh, this is true. And I have a television crew coming to shoot this tonight. There's going to be four people in line. So I ended up having to run. And this has happened a couple of times on some of the quote unquote stunts that I've done.
The it's great on paper. But I usually have to do something to juice it. And what I had to do, I had about five people in line and I had to buy dinner for about 30 people at a Mexican restaurant around the corner to get them to stand in line for, to make it pretty for the television
Louis: And claim that they were virgins.
So, so, okay. I don't think there was a better way to stop this.
Ken: One more thing. I want to tell that story only because I think there's a connection and it's one of the great lessons I've learned over the years, is that press is not just for your audience, right? When you generate press, you're like, Oh, someone will read it.
Press is also for press. So when the associated press picked it up, every other major publication had to pick it up. How did Jay Leno hear about it? Because that's what the comedy writers do. They read the press. And then lastly, so if you go onto YouTube and you type in Ken Davenport, iPhone, you will see that I was one of six people featured in one of the first iPhone commercials ever. Hand selected by Steve Jobs himself to do an iPhone commercial. And if you watch the commercial, they let me , it's a real person spot, they let me talk about My First Time. It was an advertisement for this show and I am convinced the reason I passed through thousands of people to get to Steve's desk.
Is that when someone heard my story, they were like, Oh right. I heard about that My First Time before, because press is also for press.
Louis: And it's also for authority credibility, and it has a ripple effect, like a network effect and word of mouth then started to kick in, right. People talk about it to their friends and it's just the basic of marketing.
So let me try to unpack a few things that you said that it was just absolutely phenomenal concepts. First, you said. You need to... Broadway is highly competitive
the most competitive market in the world. I love that. And that's something I love to fight for to say, like, when you are in a saturated market, you need to fight against obscurity.
You need to fight for a way on this. You need to do something big to stand out. So you, you also said that you basically touch on a topic that everyone knew about. Like they had something in common, but not a lot of people would talk about, which is like this where a combination of two things that are quite... and just to know about.
And then you went all in with something like you didn't compromise. You didn't go and say, you know what? Yeah, my it's for virgins. Like virgins would benefit the most from this, but you actually didn't dilute it. You didn't say, well, actually it's for everyone. So let's just do something for everyone, you know?
No, you went all in with this particular audience. Cause you know, that was the best fit. And then instead of backing down the last minute saying, Oh, it's too risky. People will judge me. People will say it's bullshit. No, one's going to care. You went all in again by like hiring this person to check whether they were virgins or not.
So you went, you just didn't compromise. I mean, that's my biggest takeaway from what you just said from this story, would you, would you agree on the compromise aspect?
Ken: Yeah. When, when you do something like this, you do have to go all in and you have to take it very seriously. I mean, that, of all the stuff that I do, I think one of the, and one of the most important things that I teach when I consult about this kind of thing is the, and I hate the word. I just haven't come up with a better one. The stunt has to be so organic to your product's mission. Like, if you remember, I passionately believed virgins should see this show, which is why I let them see it for free. Because I often say like, look, if you want attention for your product, like I could have gotten attention for My First Time by hiring a sign spinner to walk like two blocks away and spin a sign, or put someone in a penguin costume and have them do cartwheels, but that doesn't have anything to do with the show.
So when you're designing marketing initiatives like this, you have to say, what's my USP. What's my mission? What am I trying to, but what's the story I'm trying to tell and then do something fun with that.
Louis: Okay. I wanted to ask about examples of stunts. I don't like the word either, but I agree. I, I can't find any better alternative, of stunts that didn't work out. And what you learned from it. And perhaps it's because it's easy, right,to share your successes. And this is what you remember, but maybe we can pick an example of something that didn't work and maybe we can unpack the reason why you didn't which could be a learning for everyone.
Ken: There's so many that don't work. I don't really, even. I did a production of Godspell where I tried, you name it. Oh, I'll for this one. I can't, I still can't believe it didn't work. It wasn't a major stunt, but in Times Square, we do there's a lot of flyering going on. So, you know, I, I think of Times Square, a giant pond. And that's where the fish are for theater going, right.
They are right by that TKTS booth in Times Square. If you've been there, they're not there right now, but usually there's lots of fish. So a lot of the Broadway shows will hire people to flyer, go see my show. It's 40% off, 30% off, 20% off sign spinners type stuff. But it's effective, but I never want to do what everyone else is doing.
I always want to one up it, right? I always want to take it to another level, separating myself, make myself unique. So I said, how can it, you know, it's street teaming as we call it. How can I create the most unique street team? There is, well, Glee was very popular and I also knew that groups of guys singing., It was always popular. Jersey Boys, all this kind of stuff. And so I said, I'm going to create a street team, but I'm going to create. Take four guys, I'm going to put in varsity jackets with Godspell on the back and make them real like clean cut looking guys, teach them the Godspell music, which is what sells and have them go out on the street and sing acapella for everybody.
Crowds of people will come around. It'll be great. And then they'll all buy tickets to the show. Much more expensive to find people and teach them to do all this stuff. They didn't sell. Actually they sold less than a regular person who was just handing out flyers. And the only thing I could take away was that people were drawn to it.
Sure. But they weren't necessarily the theater going public that was drawn to it. They were just drawn to it for the entertainment sake. And while yeah, you could argue that my awareness went up a little bit. That street team was designed for something else. The street team was designed for immediate ROI.
Take a flyer, go to the box office. The show starts in four hours. And that type of street team didn't get to work for them. And interesting too clever. That's one of my big problems as a human being is trying to be , nevermind being a marketer is being too clever. And it's why I, you know, there's so many versions that I have to remember the biggest one.
And I'll just give this app a big shout out. I love the Hemingway app, which teaches you to write like a second grader because you know, most people read it. Like they process the most information when they can read it a fifth or seventh grade level. And basically it's the takeaway. There is simpler is usually better.
Louis: So, how do you recognize when, when something is too clever? Like what, what advice would you give folks listening right now that have like a big idea, something that they want to do? It's just too complicated, too clever. Like what's the telltale sign from, from your experience?
Ken: Well, I usually, I pitch my ideas ad nauseum to my staff.
And so I'm just, I'm thrilled. What do you think about this? What do you think about this? What do you think about this? And if it takes me a long time to explain it, then it doesn't work. Look, I look at, look at how long it took me to explain that damn acapella group for Godspell, all your listeners are probably like this guy.
This is your marketing guru guy? This guy sucks. That one did suck. I'll admit it. The more it takes to explain the more that it doesn't work, as opposed to virgin, get in free, period. That's it tweet seats. I was the first guy to do tweet seats live streaming of a Broadway or off-Broadway show I did in 2015 before anyone did it.
Crowdfunding a Broadway musical. We did that for Godspell. A local town becomes a producer of a Broadway show. We did that. All teen invited dress rehearsal with no adults present. We did that. Those residents, like a log line for a movie, you should be able to say it in one sentence
Louis: And, and one core idea, right? As long as you. As soon as you start adding stuff to it, you know, it, wasn't virgins go for free, and then we'd also offer, I don't fucking know the fucking hot dogs. And you know, like as long as, as soon as you make the list more than one item, you're just diluting everything. Right? It's like this core idea that is unique.
Yes. The rest is important, but not as important as this thing, obviously you have the other stuff, you have the theater experience. The fact that the play is good, but no, it's all about the virgins getting in for free, right?
Ken: Yeah. It's, it's two elements. It's something unique like your whatever is organic to your product, right?
Whether it's your USP or your mission or whatever you want to call it. Plus something that has never been done before. It's that simple, take something organic to what your product is about. Like what makes, what made you want to sell this thing or people to have it plus something that's never been done before.
That's what gets press. No one wants to do stories about things that have been done 142 times.
Louis: So to be the first and only whatever that does, that did whatever. Right. And so what is compelling and different and when you have those two together, you have the only Broadway show that that lets virgins go for free.
The only, you know, and you have many, many, many examples of that.
Ken: Yeah. And I will also say that just to think about different sectors. Never been done before could only apply to your industry. Like I borrow and steal from other industries all the time. One of my most favorite and this one didn't go as well as I wanted it to because of a technical glitch, but have you seen these have you ever seen these articles that go like, Oh, American airlines pricing error on business class flights and for like four hours, you can get a business class flight for like $8 from like, this has happened a couple of times.
Louis: Yes. Yes.
Ken: So there was a, on one of my shows, it's very common in any business at the beginning, at the launch of a company you're giving your product away for free, right?
You're like sampling it. You're doing whatever. Even Coca-Cola give away free, soft drinks in the middle of Times Square when they're launching something. So we're constantly giving away free tickets to new shows, but I didn't want to do that. And I thought, look, if I could sell them for $7, it'd be better than free, but I never want to go out and say, my ticket is only worth $7 it's worth $150.
So our tickets actually were worth $159. And I said, well, I'll just steal from the airline industry, but I'll make the mistake on purpose. So I moved the decimal point over one night. And for about 14 hours, you could get tickets to my show for $15 and 90 cents. And I just let someone discover it. And we moved hundreds and hundreds of tickets that day.
And yeah, they were only $15 and 90 cents, but I would have given those away for free. And I had more people talking about it. I had emails go on social media, going like crazy. And. Forbes Forbes did an article about it.
Louis: That's yeah, this is why it's so powerful because it's so simple. And on every time, every time I hear a story like that, an idea of yours that works, it feels obvious in retrospect, you know, it's like, I think this is when it's a good thing.
It's like, Of course it's working where it's like, that's obvious, but no one has come up with it until you did it. And then, you know, it seems obvious in retrospect, but before , I'm going to ask a leading question here. Okay. And I hope the answer is the one I'm expecting, but whenever you're launching something like that, like trying something new, the first and only whatever, whatever you have sweaty palms, like, do you feel. you know, a bit scared? Or is it like just business as usual?
Ken: I have sweaty everything because I will also tell you this nine times out of 10, I get in trouble some way shape or form. Somebody tells me you shouldn't have done that, or you shouldn't do this. And that's now I take that as a sign that I've done something right.
When someone wants to, you know, slap my wrist, luckily, no lawsuits. But I'm in an industry where there are a lot of gatekeepers and a lot of old school thinking. So I often get in trouble. You know, I'm in an industry where, when I started blogging in 2008, people told me to stop. You shouldn't do that.
You shouldn't talk about our business like this. You shouldn't reveal it. And I was like, you better get with the program. The world is changing. And so I'm always getting in trouble. I just take that as a sign it's Oh, you're doing something right. People in authority will slap things that are, that they didn't come up with on their own.
I mean, it's really what it is. They will, they will spank you just for doing something that gets them attention that they... would get you attention that they couldn't come up with.
Louis: I know for a fact, a lot of people listening right now are sometimes scared of doing what you described. Right. And that's why I asked you about the sweaty palms.
And it's something that I feel every time I launch something now, nothing to the magnitude of what you've done, but similar feeling. I chase that cause I know it's a good sign. Usually. What do you say to people who are scared of what others might be saying? Scared of getting an email saying, you know, fuck you, you're an idiot or even worse.
Don't do this because I don't want you to, because I'm such a big deal. Like, what do you say to people who are afraid of that?
Ken: Well, I can tell you that the fear, the sweaty palms is something you're always going to have. And actually here's the challenge. The more successful you are, the sweatier the palms get because the more visible you are.
So I am now a two time Tony award-winning producer, and I've done a bunch of shows and I have a bigger internet presence. So when I fuck up. People are going to know. I can't like, Oh, just hide like I could when my first stunter took. So people know . so I'm a golfer and one of the best quotes I've ever heard was from Tiger Woods.
Someone saying, do you get sweaty palms when you walk up to that first tee on Augusta National and for the Masters? And he said, the day I don't get nervous is the day I stop playing golf. I use that as energy to get through it, and it is a sign that something good can happen. Like we're nervous when we're going into unchartered territory and you have to think of you're and ex, you're an Explorer and what are the riches?
And I mean that literally, and also just figuratively, what could happen as a result of trying something new or going somewhere new. Anything could happen. Anything, you know, what will happen if you don't, we know what's going to happen. Absolutely, jack shit, nothing. You're going to be in the exact same place that you are now.
So what's the worst that's going to happen. You're going to get an email. Someone's going to trash you on social media. Big deal. It's happened to everybody. It happens to like whatever celebrity you're a fan of. Someone is trashing them somewhere right now, whoever your listeners are that like, they love whether it's a politician or an athlete, someone hates their guts.
Robert Kennedy said like 20% of the people are going to hate what you do. Or to use someone that I'm sure you're all familiar with, Tim Ferris says this. 10% of the people are going to hate what you put out in the world, no matter what it is, they're just going to hate it. So enjoy it. It's part of the process and just keep going until you hit it.
Louis: You know, I've been a bit disappointed when I launched the podcast, cause I was expecting more hate mail genuinely. I was, I was expecting people to say, fuck you, what is this, this name? I never received once an email of someone saying what you're doing is bullshit. I had a few people who said I shouldn't curse because it doesn't make me look professional and it's not professional.
I had one person who misinterpreted the name, but that's it. And I was, I've been very disappointed about it, but regardless.
Ken: I'm happy to, I'm happy to troll you later on today. If you want to feel better?
Louis: Please, please create a fake profile and just insult me I'm missing those days.
Ken: Okay. I'll say about that because I'll just tell you a true story.
One of the biggest like, flames I got online after one of my stunts, which I was like overwhelmed by this. I mean, this was a person that just had some issues, whether with me or personally, but they had a following and it, they said various personal things. And I was like, I don't understand any of this.
They had a podcast and a blog. And since then they are gone. This was years ago. It's about five, six years ago. So the other thing I will say to those out there, trying new things, outlast them. You'll outlast them. If you keep going after what you want or are passionate and keep trying and keep trying, all of those other people will fade away.
They'll forget and they 'll just keep doing and you'll still be there.
Louis: You mentioned inspiration before, you said you're looking at other industries to get inspiration, like this airline example. I'm pretty sure you don't necessarily have this method where every morning you go through the same thing, but maybe you have, so what is your, what is your one way to get, to get inspiration to, to, to other industries?
Like, do you subscribe to magazines? Listen to podcasts that have nothing to do what you do. Like how do you get the inspiration? Do you have staff to do research? Are you, what's your process?
Ken: I do a little of it. All right. I have listened to your podcast. I've listened to a lot of the marketing podcasts. I am a member of a mastermind of entrepreneurs and constantly trying to learn, but the most important thing I think that marketers can do to become better marketers is before they make a purchase decision.
When you were about to click buy now or at a cash register or wherever you are, stop and ask yourself, how did I get here? Why am I making this purchase? Is to become someone because someone told me about it is because I want status. Is it because it was on sale? Just ask yourself those questions. Like, why are you making this purchase?
Because I'm a big believer that like attracts like. If for those entrepreneurs out there, you're developing products that you like, that you want to use, which means your primary avatar for your customer is probably similar to you. So you should think about what makes you make a purchase and then do something that, or learn from that experience.
Louis: Yeah, I love that insight because it also works before you even buy, too. I like to look back at, you know, sometimes it surprises me the recommendation that I make to others when they ask for, well, what's the best brand to do X and I would be surprised by what I say, cause I never fucking used the brand and I would tell them why you should use that.
And when I try to understand why it's, because I've been primed by TV advertising for the last 10 years to know that this brand equals this product, I just remember it's part of my psyche, even though I've never used it before. And that's kind of one of the power of mental availability and brand building in a nutshell, but absolutely this is such a good insight.
And to genuinely think of the first woman to ever been in touch with this company or heard about it. And it's usually you've been sold to, even if you don't want to think about it, you've been sold to right. In some ways or another.
Ken: It happened to me recently. And this is of course why they advertise so much.
So I've live in New York City. So you don't need a car here. Right. You just don't need it. Except last year I needed a car because I have a kid now. I have a two year old and all of a sudden we wanted to get out of the city. And when you need a car, you need insurance for that car. And before I could even go, who am I going to Geico, like, it just popped into my head and then progressive.
Right. And then you realize, and that's the type of advertising, which is just like, we don't care. We're going to lose millions of dollars. Year after year, but one day Ken Davenport is going to need a car and we're going to get him and that's it. He's going to be with us for life. So that's a different, as you said, brand building and a different type of advertisers, real big, big brand spend, which is, you know, I'm a serial startup guy.
Like every show that I do is a new company. So I have to think in terms of how can I generate awareness fast, which by the way, if you know, it's Eugene Schwartz, his book, breakthrough advertising talks about this awareness cycle. So clearly because the light bulb moment. I had a show fail a couple of years ago.
Fail quote unquote, and had a much shorter run than I ever imagined. And it was getting a tremendous audience response, but it had, it was called Getting the Band Back Together, not based on a movie, not based on a book, nothing right. Audiences were going nuts. There was a very big Broadway musical down the block based on Pretty Woman.
And big brand, right? Selling out like crazy. I'm struggling to get bodies in. Although I'm hearing, they're loving my show more, then that show closed because it couldn't generate the awareness fast enough. Then I stumbled upon Eugene Schwartz's book, who said, if you're in a cluttered market and your audience doesn't know your product, what's it like to use it?
They will always go with the devil they know... always. And that's my problem on Broadway. And that's, I'm sure so many of your listeners' problems, they know, I'm sure. So many of you out there have been frustrated. It would be like, but I know my product is better. It's just, it's so much better. If only people were aware of it, if only they had more money and more resources to spend, that was my issue.
And it was this book that made me realize, Oh, it's not my fault, at least, but now you have to say, okay, I'm not going to spend it. How do I find a way to build awareness or be able to last long enough with my business so that the awareness eventually kicks in.
Louis: This is a fundamental insight on and to unpack it a bit, people are like, people's brains are lazy, right?
We are lazy and whatever situation we have this kind of study school situation in our head, like with the habits kicked in, you know, we just. For insurance within GEICO, we just buy it, you know, we don't think, you know, we want to use as less energy as possible. Right. And so when exactly in your position, when you are a startup, when you want to launch a new product, when you want to make people use it, you need a jolt, right?
You need a force powerful enough to turn this. Just the regular habits, routine and disrupt it. And that takes, that takes the type of ideas you share that takes a catalyst that makes them realize what they're doing right now is not good enough. Or they could be doing something better. It takes. I think comparing you versus the kind of the enemy of the status quo, it takes showing the authority figures that you're using already.
It takes free samples. It takes, you know, it takes a lot of things to make them move, but it's incredibly difficult to get from zero to one, one to 100 much easier. Right. And that's kind of the, it seems the thesis of everything you're trying to do because it's a very nice way to put it. Whenever you're launching a new show.
It's like a new company and you start at a new jolt that you need people to, to move from the zero to one. You mentioned consulting that you're consulting a bit for folks. Right. And I suspect you have some sort of methodology you go through, even though I'm pretty sure you've shared a few things here.
We have five minutes, a little five minutes to go through this. And I know it's not a fair, a fair question, but outside of what we mentioned here and all the concepts you already talked about, what is the one thing I forgot to ask you that you didn't say yes, that you didn't share when it comes to standing out like building awareness, creating something that people really notice.
Ken: Well, the, you know, I, I think I'll just take the few minutes to just re-emphasize the point of whatever you're trying to come up with to generate attention, it does have to be that lightning rod that you just described at the beginning. And it just has to be real and truthful and honest and organic. And you have to believe in it.
You have to fight for it. It just can't be. I'm going to do something silly and stupid to try to get a video, to go viral. Like that never works, you know, for a long time, because of the success I've had people used to come to me with, Oh, Ken, let's come up with a viral video. And it's like, that's like, no, that's not how it works.
You do something truthful and honest and authentic to your brand and it will go viral if it resonates with people. You just have to be honest and truthful. And the other thing I will tell you is, never repeat yourself. Like, because that is what the most obvious thing to do is so my, my, my first time virgins get in free promotion went crazy.
So many of my investors, God bless them, called me that like next week. And we're like, Are we going to do it again? And we're going to have a second virgin getting in free. And it was like, no, no, we're not. I get this question all the time because I crowdfunded a Broadway musical. I had like 800 investors in my production of Godspell, which was the first time.
I landed on the front page of the New York Times. A1 not front page of the arts and leisure section, front page of the paper next to Obama.
Louis: I like how you, you like, very specific about where it was.
Ken: Oh, A1. Listen, if you work in press, you know that A1 of The Times is where you want to be. And that was a huge, huge deal for me. And so many have asked, are you going to crowdfund another musical? Like, no, that, that's it. You do that once you get that one. So then, then you have to find something else. It's not easy. I try to make it a goal of mine, to come up with one big free thing, something that costs me $0, but generates as much attention as a full page ad in the New York Times for every business that I launch.
Louis: So, you know, the saturated market, like yours, what matters is to fight obscurity, right? To, to, to build awareness. You want to find something that is compelling and different at the same time, something that has never been done before. You're looking for inspiration in places that are outside of just Broadway and your own industry.
You seek the sweaty palms every time. And you know that this is what's needed to stand out. And what I like about your story as well is that you don't get complacent. You don't, cause you could really turn into this, you know, massive Broadway producer, who doesn't take risks anymore. You just do what everyone else is doing.
And you just milking the cow in a sense, but you seem to really enjoy the thread of every time, starting something fresh and new. And it seems like those are what Mavericks do. They can't just settle. They'll be bothered out their mind. Right. And then another thing you said is to, to not do the same thing twice or else it's going to fail and to go all in.
Right to go all in and to, to just fucking try and an add, as I remember, and also not to be too afraid of critics because you'll have some, and that's generally a good sign. If you don't hear anyone complaining about what you do, not disagreeing, it's usually too safe, right?
Ken: That's exactly right. You need some people to go, like, what is that guy doing? Like, that's ridiculous. And that that's happened to me many times and it's hard. It takes a little pain. We all have egos, but that's again, a sign that you're doing something, right, because you're making some people uncomfortable and usually people are uncomfortable because they don't understand, or they are not risking enough in their own business.
Louis: Ken, you've been a pleasure? I'm so happy that I've , that we talk about something new that I've never talked about it before, because to be honest, it inspires me to do way more of those. I think I need to get out of my own bubble here. I'm talking to way too many people in the tech industry and or are around it.
I think it's time to fucking break away from this and talk to other people like you smart people who have a lot to bring to the table. So thank you very much. Last question for you. What do you no, not, not this one. What are the top three resources you'd recommend listeners today. So you mentioned a few, but anything that you'd recommend people when it comes to marketing or outside of it?
Ken: So I'll, I'll mention two CRMs because that'll only be one Salesforce and Infusionsoft I'm huge fans of, and then the other two I would say Toodledo this is my to do software Toodledo. I love it, being a user for years and years.
And the other one is BombBomb. Do you know about BombBomb video?
It's my favorite
Louis: Video email, yeah
Ken: It's so simple, so easy. Increases follow up. People get so excited about it. It's a very, it's talk about simple, it's video email. You just said it, but for some reason, it's so surprises and delights people. When they see a video from you and you use their name in it, much more than typing out.
And actually I find it saves me time rather than having to just compose a thing. I just. Just talk and go and send and typos don't exist on video.
Louis: Ken, you've been a pleasure. Thanks so much for your time. If people want to know more about you and the show you produce, where should they go?
Ken: You can just Google me. My blog is the Producer's Perspective.com, where I talk about the theater. The producerperspective.com. And then I am, you know, I do some consulting for some other businesses because my first business and marketing mentor said to me, when I told them my business was different. He said, never say that again, a business is a business, is a business, the theater is just like the restaurant business, which is just like the software business.
It's all the same principles apply. So I've been doing some consulting with folks outside of the theater and you can check out that site at dramaticmarketing.com dramaticmarketing.com.
Louis: great name. Okay. And once again, thank you so much.
Ken: My pleasure.