Academy Award winning films share a common thread.
It is their ability to connect with the audience in a way that creates a positive emotive response and, at the same, differentiates their performance from those of other films.
A business owner should share the same goal. That is to elevate their brand in the minds of their audience (customers) in ways that are innovative while differentiating the business from its competitors.
The challenge becomes how to communicate a company’s strategic advantage in a time when many businesses seem like basic commodities. Many companies look alike and sound alike. Differentiation, if any, is being lost in the oversaturation of day-to-day business babble.
Business owners can do a better job of establishing better relationships, build more brand recognition and sell more by implementing a strategy that refocuses their business as a theatrical production. One that enhances the customer experience and leaves a lasting positive impression with the client.
In their outstanding book, The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore argue that Work is theatre.
“The word drama derives from the Greek drao, meaning simply ‘to do.’ In all companies, whether or not managers recognize it, the workers are playing, not in some game but in what should be a well-conceived correctly cast, and convincingly portrayed real life drama of doing. Indeed understanding this crucial point brings whole new meaning to often used business terms borrowed from or shared with the performing arts such as production, performance, method, role, scenario and a host of others.”
Creating Your Own Performance
Business owners should rethink their strategic operation as if they were conducting a play or creating a movie.
First consider the customer as the audience.
The business needs to consider all the pieces of the production and what it will take to formulate a positive customer reaction to the “play”. Think in terms of the end result whether it is a sale or order, call for a proposal, or reinforcement of message.
The CEO should then think of herself or himself as the director.
The CEO is responsible for the entire production and ensuring the script, cast members, and visual effects are all brought together to work in sync with the desired outcome.
The marketing department should be designated as the script writers.
The marketing department will capture the words and phrases necessary to communicate the play’s message, and company brand, in a way that resonates with the audience.
Human Resources then fills the role of casting directors.
HR will hire the cast members and make sure the right actors are placed in the right roles.
The workers thus become the actors.
Whether working on the shop floor, filling orders in a warehouse, or serving in accounting or other service capacity, all team members have a specific role to play to bring out the best performance possible.
The Apple Example
Consider the late Steve Jobs with Apple. His product introductions were business theatre at its best.
Jobs was both director and head actor. He would dress in a certain way (black turtle neck), fill a large screen with interesting visuals, pack the auditorium with cheering staff (additional actors), and, for public relations value, would invite selected members of the media (even more additional actors-whether they knew it or not) to attend the event.
Now under the leadership of Tim Cook, the Apple product launches have become such a highly anticipated event that some business networks carry them live.
Most businesses do not have the innovative products, size or resources of an Apple. Yet they can do more to enhance the impressions with their clients. The goal is to create an experience that can be entertaining but also highly customized for the customer.
Enhancing customer engagement
Think in terms of potential customers visiting a business. Many companies showcase the visiting customer’s name on a digital screen in the lobby. The business feels this is a good way to acknowledge the visitor.
The customer is then ushered into a conference room, where some type of sales presentation is conducted. The prospect is then shown around the facility (we have accounting here, IT there, production behind that wall etc.) They then thank the customer for coming and see them to the door.
In a business as theatre scenario the goal should be to create a greater experience for the client.
Instead of merely placing their name on a display why not build a performance around that visit.
To elevate the importance of the client he/she should not be met by only the salesperson but also by five or six key executives.
Research (readily available from sales, on social media and elsewhere) should be done to find key personal facts about the prospective client.
A tour of the facility can be undertaken where team members are dressed appropriately and interrupt their daily duties to meet and greet the prospect.
Some of the department heads can even mention an interesting fact about the client as they greet them. “I understand you attended xxx university, it’s where I went” or “I saw that you won a special award for outstanding performance” or something similar.
Following the sales presentation the prospect can be ushered into a common area where many team members gather as the customer is given an item as a memento of their visit. The item should be branded with the company logo. Team members could then clap and cheer acknowledging the client’s visit.
As with any play, a few rehearsals will be required to ensure all actors know their lines and are ready to deliver them accordingly.
Developing a business as theatre mindset can make any selling experience into a special event.
It is an excellent way to build client relationships, generate fun and excitement within the workplace, improve company branding, create buzz and PR value, and, at the end of the day, increase sales and revenue.