I never told this to anyone but two years ago I fell victim to a telemarketing call. I guess “victim” is the wrong word because I was not duped… two years have passed and I am glad I gave my credit card information over the phone.
Two years ago, I was home reading a book when I received a friendly phone call. The caller had a thick British accent and started off by apologizing if that was an unwanted call. He said all he wanted to do is thank me for purchasing so many theatre tickets in 2012.
The caller, let’s call him John, talked about Sound of Music and Miss Saigon and he asked about some of the seats I had purchased. He noted I stopped buying front row seats and I told him it was because after The Wizard of Oz my wife said we could see Dorothy’s underwear and some of the cast in Jersey Boys spat on me – not on purpose, I hope.
John said, “Unless you are trying to impress your in-laws, in my opinion front row is too close”.
Long story short, I bought two subscriptions over the phone that day. John was the best salesperson I have ever met in my life… and as you may soon find out, he wasn’t a salesperson at all.
Here are some of the benefits for subscribers: first choice of seats, 45% savings, ticket exchange, parking discounts, Newsletter, Pre-Show Reminder, Bonus Shows, Dining Discounts and more. A new initiative that officially debuted today for subscribers: The Saturday Morning Club.
This morning I met with Mirvish’s Marketing Director downtown and around forty people who are passionate about theatre. It was the first meeting of its kind and our focus was on Metamorphosis. Before discussing Kafka, we learned a little more about the process that brought the play to Toronto.
I asked the crowd how many people read the book and I was surprised to see only six hands go up in the audience. Later on someone said the way characters acted seemed like an unreal response to a “giant bug” living upstairs and asked if anyone knew why. I raised my hand and volunteered that acceptance, or blind acceptance, is a central theme in metamorphosis. I went further and explained that Gregor’s blind acceptance of his condition later drew a parallel to the analysis of historical records from the Wolrd War II, when Jewish people would blindly accept orders to walk into gas chambers – without fighting back or questioning authority.
Still in that theme, I also mentioned that Kafka was required reading in my Catholic School when I was a child. Back then my teacher said that Gregor failed in finding the reasons behind his transformation, but his family failed in accepting him for what he had become. It opened a door into the discussion of the acceptance of other faiths. That idea stuck with me because my parents are not Catholic.
We met one of the cast members. He gave us his views and added a personal touch to the meeting. He mentioned that in a previous tour of the show he met with a person in a wheelchair who told him she identified with Gregor Samsa because sometimes she felt her family hides her in a separate room… and she feels it is hard to explain how she feels.
I had never thought of Metamorphosis from that perspective and that comment alone made me glad I picked up that call form John two years ago.
Now about that call… during introductions the Marketing Director told us a funny story about a receptionist that used to work in the office, and I gathered from that that actors sometimes part time for the ticketing agency. Here is the plot twist: John was an actor.
I am not going to list all the terrible salespeople I met in my life. I think the Honda dealer that I met on the weekend driving his Ford takes the cake… but I want to focus on the idea that two years ago I didn’t buy a pair of theatre subscriptions.
I shared John’s passion for theatre and that is what I bought. Passion.
Meeting the Mirvish Marketing director this morning I learned that passion is something they teach from top to bottom. It is a requirement. It really shows.
On a final note, I really expected this “Saturday Morning Club” to end in some kind of effort to collect donations, or create a subgroup to increase subscriber sales… but it was really the initiative of a passionate marketing director who loves his work and really wants to connect to the audience and try to do better next year. At the end of the meeting, he gave away tickets.
For those who live in town or are planning to visit, here is a list of upcoming shows for the 2014-2015 season:
Our Country’s Good
The Heart of Robin Hood
I am happy in my current line of work and my career path does not involve sales but I think I learned valuable lessons today. I see a lot of things that can be explained by Sinek’s Golden Circle lately. I am sure there are success stories that are an exception to the Why-How-What idea but so far I haven’t found any.