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Talking about Jerusalem

by James Whatley on 06 April 2010

This is London’s Apollo Theatre, currently showing The Royal Court Theatre’s production of ‘Jerusalem’.

This ‘comic and contemporary vision of rural life‘ has been the subject of many a rave review with such headline grabbing one liners such as:

‘UNARGUABLY ONE OF THE BEST DRAMAS OF THE 21ST CENTURY’
- The Guardian

‘AN INSTANT MODERN CLASSIC’
- The Daily Telegraph

‘A BRILLIANT HYMN TO A VANISHING WORLD’
- The Independent

These rather catchy and awe-inspiring reviews are in fact so good, that the company in question has had them blown up and put on the outside walls of the theatre itself.

However, when I buy my ticket later this week it won’t be because of any of the press that I’ve demonstrated so far. Nor will it be thanks to the rave review that my hairdresser gave me only a few weeks ago.

The reason I want to see Jerusalem (and in fact the only reason I want to see Jerusalem) is this:

See them?

This photo was taken at 9:26am on a Tuesday morning. Every day I walk past this theatre on my way to work and every day since the play first opened, there has been a queue of at least twenty people waiting in line, in the rain, to get their hands on tickets of their own.

Yes, the play really is that good.

But what of word of mouth? I already confessed that my hairdresser had told me herself that it was good. But that wasn’t enough.
I’d read the reviews, again – still not quite enough.

This final piece of the puzzle, this commitment to the cause made real, completed my purchasing journey almost instantly.

In short:

  • Your customer’s purchasing journey could start anywhere.
  • Is this WOM? No. But I’m telling you, right?
  • Did WOM help? Not really, but it was part of the journey.
  • Above you can see at least twenty nascent advocates CRYING OUT to be engaged with. Apollo umbrellas? A thank you for their patron? Something?

How can you make your guest experience more conversational?

Think. Just think.

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  • http://www.mattsingley.com/leading mattsingley

    Although I'm sure that this isn't staged, it does remind me of the smart entepreneur that pays people to be at their small cafe/restaurant right at opening time to fill the place up a bit. Most people like to be a part of something…and this is obviously something! Why else would so many people line up?

    I think your idea of an umbrella is a good start.

  • http://whatleydude.com James Whatley

    Heh, I had the same thought. It's inspiring, isn't it?

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Sian

    For years I've been trying to get my hairdressers to make branded brollies that they can hand out when it rains. Which it always does the second you're about to leave.

    I like this post muchly. I think Matt's right about being part of something. I like to find things that aren't part of the norm, but I'll never eat in an empty restaurant.

    I wonder if places like the Apollo feel like they don't *need* to do anything to help word of mouth – it's being done for them and they're selling out. They're getting the result they want without needing to do anything extra.

  • loudmouthman

    When we rave about the iPad and extol the wonders of iPod and excite ourselves over the convenience of streaming media to our entertainment centers the above is what we will lose. I know I have said it before but when we move to accessing media in a device we remove some valuable social signals ( such as the one above ) that inform us about our fellow man.

    When we pack away all our books, music and movies into devices and away from the observing eye of a stranger we remove the chance for opinions to be formed about us. Gone are the opportunities to roam the shelves of new friend and by reading or listening habit alone asses the future relationship with the individual. Gone are the buses and tubes packed with readers demonstrating a wave of popularity for one author of the season.

    All of the above that you have discussed will be lost “like tears in the rain.”

  • http://whatleydude.com James Whatley

    I forgot that I recorded this interview a few days after I wrote the post :)

    http://audioboo.fm/boos/114055-chatting-to-the-jerusalem-queue