Do Brand Ambassadors Work? Meet Broadway Crew Co-Founder Sam Clark
Broadway Crew promotes shows in the Times Square area. They’ve worked with Mean Girls, King Kong, Hadestown, Freestyle Love Supreme, Slave Play, Beetlejuice and many more. Below, co-founder Sam Clark talks with us about his vision for launching his theater promotions company, word-of-mouth marketing and how to create an effective team of brand ambassadors.
SO: Broadway Crew is relatively new. How did the idea come about for this service?
SC: Since moving to NY from Australia in 2012, I have worked almost exclusively in the theater promotions, events and brand ambassador space. I cut my teeth working for The Perfect Crime off-Broadway, and learned all of the tricks of the trade in driving sales through the various TKTS booths around the city. Since leaving them in 2015, I worked for all of the street teams in the industry and noticed that while individually they did a pretty good job at specific services (one for TKTS, one for characters, etc.), the Broadway space had a distinct lack of full-service, professional promotional staffing businesses. In 2018, my business partner and I decided that we could make a more holistic company where our staff feels valued and appreciated, paid a living wage, and our clients could get the service they deserve. Hence Broadway Crew was born.
SO: What’s the pitch to shows for your service?
SC: Almost all shows need some sort of street and brand ambassador service. For the immediate Times Square area, this is anchored in representation at the TKTS booth in Times Square – Broadway’s only in-person sales funnel. Ticket sales through these booths account for approximately 12% of all sales, so professional rep is vital. We are the only branded team in the space (Broadway Crew tees, etc.), and have a very specific sales method to drive folks toward the shows we represent. We also offer a range of other services such as Hotel concierge, flyer drops, event staffing and Times Square flyering. Our pitch is essentially, if you are spending millions of dollars producing such important work, doesn’t it make sense to invest in the best possible face of your brand, the face that will literally be interacting with your customers every day? We also do incredibly detailed reports which feed right up the line to inform the broader marketing and brand strategy.
SO: What does it take to create a team of brand ambassadors that are effective?
SC: A lot of patience, communication and care. Almost all of our staff are artists in their own right, so we strive to create a space where they can feel heard and valuable and have the flexibility to pursue their art form. Broadway Crew was founded on the idea that your survival job didn’t have to be awful — that artists can have a parallel career path that supports their passion. We offer workshops and mixers to actively feed their craft. This creates a sense of community and shared ownership of the company, which directly increases our outcomes in the field.
SO: How do you find your ambassadors?
SC: A lot of referrals from our current staff, although we do list openings on Playbill as well. We prefer referrals because the candidates usually come with a working knowledge of what we do, and what our company is about. A knowledge of Broadway is also a major plus, so our Crew tend to be actors, writers, directors and theater professionals in their own right.
SO: Word-of-mouth marketing is still king. Seems like this personal touch goes further than just a sign or billboard. Can you add to that?
SC: Absolutely. With the overwhelming amount of “fake news” and the constant barrage of social media and traditional marketing, personal referral continues to be the most effective way to sell tickets to your show. We’ve found that by being personal, relatable and listening to the patrons, we can match the show to the person. This may mean that they don’t see our client’s show immediately, but it creates a trust in our Crew and our brand which means we have multiple return customers every day. In our first year we took over a show from another team and increased their TKTS sales by over 10%. This meant hundreds of thousands of dollars that goes back toward the show, keeping artists employed.
SO: What’s next for Broadway Crew?
SC: Continue to refine our processes and expand to serve our clients in the most cost effective and exciting way possible. We are constantly investing in our Crew by offering workshops and career development because we firmly believe that a happy staff means a happy client — everybody wins!