Saturday, October 06, 2007

Blunt advice and performance nightmares

Two items that may be of interest to you:

Quick, Blunt Advice for Those Who are Starting Out on the Road to New, posted on Storyteller.net, by K. Sean Buvala

There are a couple of points I think are up for debate. Number 4: "Use both sides of your business card." I leave the back of my business card blank so I can write down my cell-phone number, blog website, recommended book, or even paste an address label). Also, #6: "Don’t send Emails to a potential client unless they have asked you first." I've had some discussion with my colleagues about this, and the general consensus was "It depends." On the one hand, it's a bad idea to harvest email addresses, but on the other hand, email is sometimes a viable alternative to using the telephone. I've emailed a potential client of a large organization before, and I don't know whether or not the silence is because of the email or because the potential client just wasn't interested. The other potential client of the other large organization didn't answer me either, and I had sent out just a letter with a follow-up phone message. (My dream is that someday I'll become well-known enough that these very clients will contact me, and think they're the ones who approached me first!)

The other item on Storyteller.net that I found both amusing and disconcerting is Linda Gorham's Performance Nightmares: I wish I... Some highlights:

I wish I had asked...
*Will the seniors be expecting Bingo?
*Will a helicopter be landing next to me during my show?
*Is the highway exit still there?

I should have realized...
*That when they told me they would pay me nothing, they would treat me like nothing.
*That teenagers who are not used to sitting on the floor, wouldn’t like any of my stories if I took away their chairs.
*That the venue would be hard to find if I left the directions home.

I wish I had stipulated ...

*That sending me an aerial view of the library would not be very helpful.
*That Santa, Captain Underpants, Dora the Explorer and a host of other characters would not be allowed to enter the room until after my show.
*That marshmallows would not be roasted during my ghost story show.


Related post: Seven Tips for Successful Storytelling Programs

12:57 pm Update: Eric Herman wrote an in-depth, thoughtful response to this post:

Good article. Thanks for sharing that, Alkelda. But I don't entirely agree with the e-mail thing, either. That's been my first means of contact for almost all of my booking inquiries.

The way I see it is, what's more intrusive, sending an e-mail or calling? People can read and answer e-mail at their convenience, but a phone call has much more of a chance of interrupting someone at a bad time. The downside of e-mail is that you don't know for sure that someone has received it or if that e-mail address isn't one that person checks regularly, so you may have to follow up again before you get a response. But don't assume that no response equals a negative response. If a person hasn't responded by e-mail after a couple tries, then maybe I'll call them if it's something important to me.

I think e-mail has another advantage in that you can include a direct link to your website and your contact information, etc., whereas the person who you called who came rushing from the bathroom might have to scramble for a Post-It note to get your information down, only to lose it later.

The exception, and possibly what the author's concern was about, is to be careful about sending out a blanket e-mail to many different people at once, which can seem impersonal, and is very bad netiquette if you don't BCC: everybody or don't use a mail client that can merge addresses properly.

Also, there's a big difference between "harvesting" e-mails from websites to send junk spam to people, and gathering e-mail contacts for people who you have a very legitimate reason to contact if they are in a position to book performances and you are a performer. Why else would organizations put those people's e-mail addresses on their websites, if not so people with legitimate reasons to contact them can do so?

But anyway, I love those nightmare stories, and a few of them would have made it on my list, too! :o)


Sunday, October 7, 2007 update: Sean Buvala, the author of the first article, and storytelling blogger to boot, responds:

Well, let's walk through a few of those points. Why isn't all that handwritten information on your business card in the first place. If you think someone might use your contact info, put it on the card. More importantly, the point regarding having material on the back of the card is to establish the answer to the question of "niche" for your clients. We cover this in depth in the "Outside In Storytelling Boot Camp" we're doing this February. www.outsideinstorytelling.com Few tellers are aware of the true need for this process of establishing niche.

Email use is an issue for everyone and there are a wide variety of answers to this. Yes, Email is the method of contact that is preferred for anyone you already have a relationship with. No question about it. You as a performer need to make it a focus and our charge to collect Emails from everyone you contact. I have thousands of folks on my mailing list and they all chose to be there. I am glad to hear that we agree on the farming issue. It's a sure fire way to tick-off everyone.

Another thought is the concept of you as an artist going after bookings instead of having them come to you. It's common to mistake advertising for marketing. Marketing is relationship, advertising is intrusive. Most of my clients find me instead of me going after them.

In general, you will create more angry people by sending UCE (unsolicited commercial email) to them than making that phone call. It doesn't matter how pure our intentions are- Email is still seen as highly personal and should only be used after the relationship is established. Faxes went that way and eventually were regulated. I see that happening in Email, too, if we're not scrupulous.

Overall, great set of responses and postings. Keep up the good work! Come get your page at Storyteller.net.

7 comments:

Eric Herman said...

Good article. Thanks for sharing that, Alkelda. But I don't entirely agree with the e-mail thing, either. That's been my first means of contact for almost all of my booking inquiries.

The way I see it is, what's more intrusive, sending an e-mail or calling? People can read and answer e-mail at their convenience, but a phone call has much more of a chance of interrupting someone at a bad time. The downside of e-mail is that you don't know for sure that someone has received it or if that e-mail address isn't one that person checks regularly, so you may have to follow up again before you get a response. But don't assume that no response equals a negative response. If a person hasn't responded by e-mail after a couple tries, then maybe I'll call them if it's something important to me.

I think e-mail has another advantage in that you can include a direct link to your website and your contact information, etc., whereas the person who you called who came rushing from the bathroom might have to scramble for a Post-It note to get your information down, only to lose it later.

The exception, and possibly what the author's concern was about, is to be careful about sending out a blanket e-mail to many different people at once, which can seem impersonal, and is very bad netiquette if you don't BCC: everybody or don't use a mail client that can merge addresses properly.

Also, there's a big difference between "harvesting" e-mails from websites to send junk spam to people, and gathering e-mail contacts for people who you have a very legitimate reason to contact if they are in a position to book performances and you are a performer. Why else would organizations put those people's e-mail addresses on their websites, if not so people with legitimate reasons to contact them can do so?

But anyway, I love those nightmare stories, and a few of them would have made it on my list, too! :o)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Thanks for your response, Eric. I've added it to my post so that it doesn't get lost in the crevices of the blogosphere.

Eric Herman said...

Well, you were complaining about the "lull of comments", so I thought I'd blather on a bit to make up for my lack of comments recently. :o)

Sean said...

Well, let's walk through a few of those points. Why isn't all that handwritten information on your business card in the first place. If you think someone might use your contact info, put it on the card. More importantly, the point regarding having material on the back of the card is to establish the answer to the question of "niche" for your clients. We cover this in depth in the "Outside In Storytelling Boot Camp" we're doing this February. www.outsideinstorytelling.com Few tellers are aware of the true need for this process of establishing niche.

Email use is an issue for everyone and there are a wide variety of answers to this. Yes, Email is the method of contact that is preferred for anyone you already have a relationship with. No question about it. You as a performer need to make it a focus and charge to collect Emails from everyone you contact. I have thousands of folks on my mailing list and they all chose to be there. I am glad to hear that we agree on the farming issue. It's a sure fire way to tick-off everyone.

Another thought is the concept of you as an artist going after bookings instead of having them come to you. It's common to mistake advertising for marketing. Marketing is relationship, advertising is intrusive. Most of my clients find me instead of me going after them.

In general, you will create more angry people by sending UCE (unsolicited commercial email) to them than making that phone call. It doesn't matter how pure our intentions are- Email is still seen as highly personal and should only be used after the relationship is established. Faxes went that way and eventually were regulated. I see that happening in Email, too, if we're not scrupulous.

Overall, great set of responses and postings. Keep up the good work! Come get your page at Storyteller.net.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Hey Sean! Thanks for stopping by my blog. In answer to your question, "Why isn't all that handwritten information on your business card in the first place?" I am uncomfortable with having my home address widely circulated. The answer to that, of course, would be to get a P.O. Box. I think eventually I'll do that, but in the meantime, I'm sticking my address labels on the back of the cards on an as-needed basis.

I'm going to post your response in the main body of this post. Thanks so much for writing it.

Sean said...

Hey, thanks for posting my comments. I needed to fix the words focus and charge to "focus and our charge" (that is our job)so it doesn't look like I am urging folks to charge for adding to the mailin list. LOL. I do understand not wanting to put your home addy on everything. I have used the PO BOX answer myself.

It's good to see folks pulling articles outside of Storyteller.net and ruminating on them. Discussion is a good thing, it's how we get from me to we.

Peace-
Sean

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Hey Sean, I fixed your comment and gave you a plug in a new post.:)