Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How Hamilton is Killing it By Delivering a Differentiated Customer Experience


It’s all the rage in New York City right now. People everywhere are hunting for the impossible ticket. They are crowdsourcing on social media, begging, pleading and PAYING (big bucks) to score the hottest ticket in town.

Let me give you some stats to show you exactly how hot we are talking. The show is selling $1.5 million in tickets….WEEKLY. “According to financial statements obtained by the Hollywood Reporter,the show grossed $61.7 million at the box office from its Broadway previews in July through early April, and may have already recouped its capital cost for investors. (By comparison, it took "Wicked" 14 months to recoup, and "The Book of Mormon," the phenom most often compared to "Hamilton," eight months.)”

After the show broke the record for receiving the most Tony nominations, ticket prices went bananas. I’m talking as much as what someone might be paying for their mortgage, bananas. Two tickets on StubHub for $666 each in the rear mezzanine side, typically the cheapest seats in the house. Prime center orchestra seats for $3,334. The lowest-priced solo ticket was $1,295 for a side orchestra seat.

It’s basically easier to get into an Ivy League school right now, than it is to get a Hamilton ticket and if you CAN get one, you may just have to refinance your house to pay for it.

So why is everyone flocking to the show AND paying the big bucks?
The music? Yes.
The singing/dancing/acting? Yes.
The Tony nods? Yes.
The exclusivity of being able to actually say you went? Yes.

All. The. Yes.

And this is all happening because of the show’s creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. He’s a creative genius, not just for the show itself, but the movement he has created around it. He has differentiated his show from all the others, it is a unique experience, in fact it is a movement! It’s that movement that creates the sense of urgency for people to get their hands on the tickets. He didn’t just make a Broadway show, he built a differentiated experience. And one that has people everywhere filled with desperation to be a part of it.

People stalk social media to see the latest celebrities posting pictures and status updates about attending Hamilton. Hashtags like #Ham4Ham were created for the elusive lottery tickets many try to snag. There are even SoulCycle classes that use Hamilton music. The audience demographic is also vast and diverse pretty much running the gamut from age 8 to 80. A Hamilton ticket has become a status symbol.

A recent article from FastCompany said, “Miranda has cultivated—and maintained—a level of devotion among his followers that branding agencies only dream of. He insists that there is no gimmick to it, just a raw desire to connect to other rap, theater, and history nerds. "I hate the word branding," he says. "I don’t feel like an entrepreneur. I feel like a writer who is forced to wear an entrepreneurial hat occasionally."

He engages with Hamilton fanatics on every level. He’s built a community. Creating these amazing participatory moments where they feel part of the Hamilton phenomenon. Even those who have never set foot in the theater!

The same FastCompany article said, “But Miranda’s closest—and most important—relationship is with the hundreds of thousands of fans who have likely never seen the show. Ticket scarcity has motivated him to create an entire world around it, so that people, and especially young people, can feel like a part of the movement even if they can’t get into the theater.” 

The entire world of Hamilton is essentially one of the best modern examples of creating a differentiated  customer experience. It’s something that everyone wants in on and it’s born from Miranda’s passion. Sure, he created a powerful movement based around a show, but the level of engagement he has with his fans, and that they have with each other, is unheard of.

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS is how you master a differentiated customer experience and turn it into something with major impact. Miranda has literally changed the game and shown how creating a differentiated experience can build emotional connections, devotion and an unstoppable movement. I love everything about Miranda’s story and how it validates the power of customer experience.

P.S. Anyone have an extra ticket?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dude, What’s Your Story?

Once upon a time, there was a business that made products and offered services but they didn’t have a great story to tell, or maybe they did but they just didn’t know how to tell it. Either way, I can’t remember their name, or what it was that they sold, can you?

Exactly. Nobody does.

People love a good story and it’s not just because stories are entertaining. We are wired for storytelling. Think about it, literacy is a very recent occurrence for human beings - for most of our existence the majority of people could not and did not read and write. History, learning, religion, one’s family background, were passed on from generation to generation through storytelling. Even with the proliferation of literacy, it is stories that many of us choose for our leisure reading. When was the last time you picked up a textbook for reading enjoyment during downtime? Well, there is always that one person, and if that’s you, please stop reading as there will not be a test at the end of this blog. 

The short story about stories is that they sell.

Stories help forge an emotional connection and they intrigue people and pique their interest to learn more. This is true in our personal lives and in our businesses too!

There is a catch, however. If you want to tell the story of your business and even YOUR story, it can’t just be any story. It must be authentic and relatable. It doesn’t matter if you are selling backend software to a stogy IT purchasing guy or a sparkly diamond engagement ring to a nervous millennial who has been saving his “3 months salary”. If you can build that connection, you will build the foundation for a relationship. And THAT’S what makes people pull the purchase trigger.

I’m not ashamed to admit that as I was reading I was letting out the occasional, “Yes!” and “That’s what I’m saying!” and “PREACH!”

Here’s the thing. You can’t just read a script, fake or facilitate a story for your customers. As a business you need to help your employees mold the experience of their customers. If you are customer facing, it is your job to build a relationship with your client, and to do that you need to get real, be authentic, and tell stories that evoke  emotion. If that’s not your thing, I mean if you don’t like doing that, if it really makes you uncomfortable at your core, you are in the wrong role.  Not every interaction with your customers is about creating drama.  There are times where transactions are necessary and expected but the thread that transforms the mundane into meaningful is the emotional connection your business, and you as an individual, create through the stories you tell. Throughout history, storytellers have played an important role in connecting people to new ideas, messages, current events and more. What’s your role as the next generation of storyteller in connecting customers to the unique story of your business?

In the article, the author says, “…when a company limits its understanding of the customer experience to a list of customer touchpoints, a list mostly made up of these dull, or, more to the point, meaningless moments, it’s missing the underlying story, myth, legend of your company, as experienced by your customer.”

Can I get an amen?!?!??!?!

It’s almost as if you are co-authoring your story with your customers. Sure you can give them stunning marketing visuals to appeal to their emotions, build characters for them to relate to, be accessible to them in a way that makes them feel important and invested, but they too are going to walk away from every interaction with a perception of the customer experience. So the more you are in tune with them, their needs, how they perceive you and what they want more/less of, the more likely your stories will gel and create a bestseller.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of the story – the one you put out there and the one your customer tells. It shapes your customer experience probably more than anything else you can do.

What’s your story? Tweet me @GMagenta. I too, love a good story.