Jul 02

Let’s go, on with the show!

I must admit to loving Consultant Robb High’s lengthy list of agency marketing mistakes. His latestSpeech
missive homes in on the need for strong agency ‘performers’ in new business pitches.

Robb writes, and I agree, that 90 percent of all new business decisions come down to chemistry. You either ‘connect’ with the prospect or, as Peppercom’s Deb Brown likes to say, ‘…pack up your tent and go home.’

High suggests that top agency pitch people should enroll in acting classes to improve their skills. He’s absolutely right. Having taken two Upright Citizens Brigade improvisation workshops and a week long American Comedy Institute course, I can tell you the training makes a huge, if subtle, difference.

Improv teaches one to react spontaneously to word and phrase prompts and work as a team to help one another construct a skit. Stand-up comedy trains one in pacing, eye contact, reading non-verbals and interacting with hostile or passive audiences (give me a hostile audience anytime, btw. There’s nothing worse than staring at a roomful of blank stares).

All that said, I do disagree with High’s assertion that only the ‘A’ team should attend new business pitches. Such a strategy leads to the classic big agency bait-and-switch complaint we hear so often from disgruntled prospects (i.e. ‘We were pitched by the stars, but ended up getting 22-year-old juniors working on our business.’). The far better course of action is to enroll agency fast trackers in acting, improv and comedy classes.

The deeper the talent pool, the more flexibility senior management has in selecting the best pitch team. And, who knows, maybe there’s a budding Marlon Brando or Eva Marie Saint somewhere within your agency. All they (and you) need is to recognize the enormous personal, professional and organizational benefits of acting classes. Now then, has anyone seen my make-up case?

Mar 04

A chip off the old block

I’m pleased to report that Chris ‘Repman, Jr.’ Cody made his stand-up comedy debut this past SaturdayKilimanjaro_004
night.

Chris was one of 13 comedians who, like me, had trained at the most excellent American Comedy Institute.

The comedy course is very cool and attracts people from all walks of life. In addition to Chris, there was a Boston cop, a Swedish newscaster (very hot) and a ‘fat, white 50-year-old divorced guy from Connecticut,’ who was very funny.

The course spans four sessions, and teaches the basics of timing, content and delivery. A professional comedian works with each student to create a five minute routine, which is then performed in front of a live audience.

Chris was the 11th of 13 comics to perform, and I could tell the nervous anticipation was eating him up. But, when he finally did stride up to the microphone, he rocked.

Performing stand-up is an amazing experience. And, it has immediate and obvious implications for the business world (I.e. After performing your own comedy routine in front of strangers, a new business pitch is like a walk in the park).

One other thing: having the guts to do stand-up at the age of 22 amazes me. I know I couldn’t have done it then. But, then I’m not Repman, Jr., either. Well done, Chris.