What the Olympics Opening Ceremony can teach us - creative tips for running a business
With the superbly theatrical spectacle of the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony behind us, time to reflect on some parallels with running a creative business.
The build-up to the event was phenomenal. For weeks beforehand we heard how Danny Boyle – with his film and live theatre background - was likely to produce some incredible surprises, and we were not disappointed. A buzz was created about the event in advance which led to high expectations and excitement. I’m not a fan of sports at all, but I couldn’t wait to see the opening ceremony after everything I had heard.
But ‘everything’ wasn’t very much – just a tiny, tantalising detail here and there, without giving the game away at all. We were told that all 10,000 participants (and 100,000 people viewing rehearsals) had been asked to ‘keep the secret’ – and they did. Quite remarkable in this ‘tell–all’ age … but I digress.
The point is that as small businesses we need to create a buzz of excitement about our products and services. If you are launching something new, ‘drip-feed’ titbits of information about it in tiny chunks, beginning a few weeks beforehand – not so long ahead of time that everyone forgets about it in between, but just long enough to create anticipation.
For example, you might be writing an e-book incorporating your knowledge. Send your customer list an email or text to tell them about the writing process, the expected publication date and the type of information they will be able to learn from the book. A while later you may want to give away sample paragraphs or a chapter, to whet the appetite.
If you are bringing out a new line of clothing, tell customers little bits of information about the design process, the preparations for the launch party, or a ‘behind the scenes’ preview of what will happen at the launch.
In this way, customers (or prospective customers on your list – you do have a customer list don’t you?) will be eagerly anticipating the event and will be primed to buy when the time comes.
Tell a story
One of the best aspects of the Opening Ceremony was the very clever way in which Boyle interwove aspects of British History, to tell a story in a very visual way.
Kenneth Brannagh(playing industrialist Brunel) read from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ over music evoking the industrial revolution, and actors dressed as characters from The Beatles’ ‘Sargeant Pepper’ marched past, mingled with the sight of a model ship representing the Windrush bringing the first Jamaican immigrants to Britain.
Dozens of Mary Poppins characters were flown in to vanquish evil doers from British childrens’ literature, alongside a ‘Peter Pan’ based tribute to the NHS service formed in the UK after the second world war, and the delighted audience lapped it all up.
People love stories. Tell your customers the story of your business, how it came to be, what made you decide to come up with the new product or service you are about to launch soon. Make them feel involved.