“Should we do the Sweeney Todd number I accidentally cut from earlier in the show?”
“Nah, let’s do Loggins.”
It was the right call.
Within seconds, the (small) crowd was singing along.
“People smile and tell me I’m the lucky one. . . “
It was the end of a cabaret-style performance by a violinist and singer that had been (and still, to my knowledge is) part of a singing string quartet (My Mom sold this event to me as “He’s part of a boyband, Katie” and you know how I feel about those), but had hit the road solo in the last year to play small venues.
I don’t remember his name right this second, and that’s kinda the point of this newsletter.
(I’ll look him up and link him at the bottom.)
Normally I don’t really love concerts during which people sing unless I know all of the words.
That’s also the point of this newsletter.
I LOVED this show.
Mostly because I thought it was really instructive and interesting to see how someone performing by himself with just piano accompaniment for people who mostly didn’t know anything about him (There seemed to be one table of big fans in attendance.) kept us all engaged and paying attention for the 70 or so minute set, AND successfully secured not one but TWO encore requests.
How’d he do it?
- He was generous with his energy. The audience was small and the weather was awful and he put on a show like he was entertaining a crowd of hundreds. He seemed to exude energy that indicated, “If ONE person here has a great time, I’m happy.” That energy made US want HIM to have a great time, so we were all generous with our energy.
- He alternated between original music and familiar classical, pop, and show tunes. There was something for everyone. No matter who you were, at least a couple of songs would hit you in the feels.
- He created a narrative for his one-man show. It wasn’t just a show. He told a story. Maybe this is common. I don’t go to a lot of small one-person shows. As he sang songs and played his violin, and sang TO his violin he told the story of growing up in a small South Carolina town, feeling a little different, and then going to a performing arts focused boarding school and then moving to New York. We wanted to know, the whole time, “WHAT DID HE DO NEXT???” It was like watching a mystery show or reading a crime novel, but with violins. And, see? I remember it!
- He ended with a familiar crowd pleaser. People LOVE things they know. If he wanted us to all leave smiling and humming, playing Danny’s Song by Loggins and Messina was the right call. Sweeney Todd would have pleased the musical theater geeks in the audience, but that’s a much smaller subset. When the first notes rang out, suddenly the whole little crowd was one and we were having a moment.
Fifty Shades of Heyyyyyy
I’m sure you’ve heard that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fanfiction.
Fanfiction is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “fiction written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, movie, etc.”
It’s a REALLY popular thing for fans to engage in. There’s Harry Potter fanfiction, Star Trek fanfiction, Twilight fanfiction. If there’s a tv show or a book or a movie with lots of fans, you can bet that people write stories with those characters in all KINDS of situations, both in the universe the original author created (those are called “Canon” fics) and in other universes/worlds (those are called aus, or “Alternative Universe.”)
One fan will read THOUSANDS of different stories about the same characters in different situations.
Why? People like things that are familiar.
Because people also like to feel a sense of belonging. The cliche “Sorrow shared is halved and joy shared is doubled” is TRUE.
It’s way more fun to laugh with someone else than to laugh by yourself.
And if you do laugh at something by yourself, what do you do? You immediately share it with your friends!
That’s how things go viral.
But for you to laugh by yourself at something you’ve never seen it has to somehow connect to something else that isn’t new for you. It can be a pretty tenuous connection, but there has to be some shred of connection with something you already know.
If you try to tell me a joke about field hockey I won’t laugh because I don’t know anything about field hockey.
This is why it’s so very very difficult to get people to latch onto a completely new idea or try a drastically new solution to a problem or to pick up a new hobby.
Back to our energetic violinist.
Whether he did it on purpose or by accident, he knew that if he wanted his audience to stay engaged he had to periodically connect us with something familiar.
Make Your Connection
As humans seeking to befriend other humans, service providers desiring to serve new clients, gardeners and designers seeking to reach new customers, authors looking for new readers, we’ll be able to do all of those things if we remember
- People respond well to familiarity
- People like to feel a sense of belonging
and then we find connections between what we’re offering and what they’re already doing and use those connections in our messaging.
Here are some examples that resonated with me lately
- Little Prince of Oregon’s TikTok asking “How Many Houseplants are Too Many? (It tickled me because I love plants, I love people who have a good poker face, I love shenanigans.)
- November Newsletter from Ellen Zachos, The Backyard Forager. (I don’t forage, but this one is all about Thanksgiving, and because Thanksgiving is coming, I read this and was like, “Hm. Maybe I COULD try some of this.”
Making “Couch” Happen
THAT is a nerdy throwback to a Mean Girls meme.
I’m not really trying to make “Couch” happen. It’s already happening. If you walk into any plant shop, boutique, bookstore, etc. there’s now a couch. I‘m mostly trying to get people to notice that it is happening and to participate for the benefit of their businesses.
I write extensively about it and why you might care about this trend here.
Thankfully, my awesome editor (Shout out to Jen Polanz!) did not take out my Friends reference, which was my connection to readers.
Here’s my couch graphic. (It’ll make more sense if you read the article because we made the graphic to accompany the article.)
Go forth and make something happen!
Then email me and tell me how you did it.
I love great stories.
Another great newsletter I love!
Free meme generator >> use this to make your own memes for marketing!
Edmund Bagnell The Violinist (This link is working on some browsers and not on others it is https://www.instagram.com/edmund_bagnell
11 Classics that are Actually Fanfiction
How we ended up with Fifty Shades of Grey
Colb-Chella: Careful this is a YouTube link so it will auto play. Featuring Daft Punk and the Rockettes. H/t to Jo Ellen for this one!
We are approaching the holidays! Yay!
GOW will be closed November 23-28 and December 22-27th. There will always be someone on call for emergencies, and if we work for you and you have an emergency, you can always call or text my cell phone number. (It’s 317-313-8366.)
Thinking of reaching out to us for website help, a new website, email newsletter help, spring marketing assistance, or anything else? We are scheduling new projects to start January 15. If you’re not an active client and think you might want to be, NOW is the time to schedule a discovery call so we can get ya on board and reserve time for you in 2022. Click here to schedule. Can’t find a time that works? Email Mallary at email@example.com.
Have a great weekend!
PS: If we’re not connected in LinkedIn, click here to connect! We’re sharing a lot more quick tips on the Garden of Words LinkedIn page, too.