SOR 70: How Ken Davenport Tests and Why This Broadway Producer Is Jealous of Regional Theatres

Ken Davenport (@kendavenport)

Who is he?
Tony award winning Broadway producer and believer that getting more people involved in making more theatre makes the world a better place

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A few weeks ago, I got a notice through Twitter that someone mentioned me in a tweet. That’s not at all unusual, that happens fairly regularly. But what was unusual was that I was mentioned by Ken Davenport.

I’m guessing many of you listening recognize that name, but in case you don’t he’s a Tony award winning Broadway producer whose credits include Kinky Boots, The Bridges of Madison County, Macbeth starring Alan Cumming, Blithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury. He’s one of the co-founders of TEDxBroadway. Combined, Ken’s productions have grossed more than $100 million worldwide and are being produced internationally in over 25 countries including Germany, Mexico, France, and Korea. Online, he’s the man behind the blog The Producers Perspective and the podcast of the same name.

Here’s what I saw when I clicked through my Twitter notifications:

When I reached out over email I learned that one of Ken’s consulting clients had mentioned Sold Out Run, so thank you to you, whoever you are, for connecting us. Since Ken has walked a path that I suspect many of you guys listening would like to follow, I asked Ken if he would be game to come on the podcast and share a few insights.

In this episode:

  • how to market big productions – Ken looks for ways to approach the marketing of big productions as if they were small
  • why direct response pieces are great – they stand out as more and more theatres move to the less expensive digital marketing and they’re measurable
  • reluctance to pick a top marketing tactic – don’t get locked into thinking about a favorite marketing tactic, instead start with thinking about who the audience is and where they are
  • importance of testing – know as much as you can as early as you can
  • why he’s jealous of smaller theatres – while Broadway productions are often stuck courting one-time visitors, smaller theatres have an easier time forging relationships with long term patrons
  • stunt promotions that work – they need to make sense with and connect to the theme of your show
  • timing your promos matters – with some shows it might make sense to spend a huge chunk of your advertising budget before opening night, while others are going to give you better results if you wait until word of mouth starts getting out

Items mentioned:

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Thanks to Ken for joining me here, and thanks to you for listening.

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