This week’s Woman of Wisdom is Marilyn Abrams is Co- Producer and Co- Writer of Shear Madness (Runs the Marketing/Business side of Cranberry Productions). This is her interview:
Tell us about your business…
A wildly popular interactive comedy that keeps audiences laughing as they try to outwit the suspects and catch the killer. This production is great for audiences of all ages and reaches people of all interests. Not your typical theatre production, the show takes news straight from the daily headlines and keeps Shear Madness up to the minute every minute.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
My greatest influence in business is the same as my greatest influence in my entire life- my mother and father. They gave me confidence and security and the ability to accept a challenge and make the most of it.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Shear Madness has earned the distinction of becoming the First (Boston), Second (Washingon, DC) and Third (Chicago) longest running plays in American theatre history earning a place in the Guiness Book of World Records.
From it’s humble beginnings, this little play has grown to 120 productions all over the world and had been translated into 28 different foreign languages.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?
In a small company such as ours its imperative to have key people carry their weight. Another piece of key advice I received is to keep the basic ownership between the two original partners. In all these 40 years my partner, Bruce Jordan and I, kept the entire business under our control, sharing all decision making regarding matters pertaining to the business.
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?
First would be group sales marketing. Group sales was a new phenomenon in 1980 which we honed to a science and our processes and procedures been imitated by many other companies. We were the first theatre company to handle large group sales and tourism business in-house (all others licensed this out). We were enormously successful and were able to control our customers directly, marketing to them in any way at any time we wanted.
Gift certificates was also another huge part of our business that was unheard of when we first started the business. People were not selling gift certificates to theatres because shows had a start and end date and there was no guarantee a show would stay open. But Shear Madness had no signs of slowing down or ever closing so gift certificate sales were a huge win-win for us.
Now marketing initiatives are very different and there is a need to constantly be paying attention to the next hot lead. We are still very small company with limited ad dollars so we try to use wisely. We still try to be everywhere the people are: Online, Social Media, Influencers, Taxi Tops, Hotels, Convention Bureaus, etc. This is just a sampling but if there are potential patrons, Shear Madness will be there somehow, and market you our show.
What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?
Always keep your eyes open to new developments and new sales and never say no before trying something. Most importantly never listen to advice that tells you what has already been done. Think outside the box and do it your way.
Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?
I read the New York Times every day, and pay attention to the Business section. It is from there that I have read about what other unrelated Businesses are doing and how we can adapt good ideas for Shear Madness.
Do you have any new projects coming up?
On January 29, 2019 we will be celebrating 40 years of our flagship production in Boston. We hope to bring back some of our favorite actors, fans and cheers to the accomplishments of all those involved!
We have also finalized a contract to develop Shear Madness in the Asian market. Currently Shear Madness has been playing in Korea 13 years but nowhere else in Asia. With this new project, we will be expanding to all areas of Asia starting with an opening in Shanghai in 2020.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
I am a huge reader, and love to go to the Theatre and concerts. I spend a lot of time laughing with my family! I also take walks in Central Park every day where I do my thinking and get all my best ideas.
What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?
To make a big impact in the Asian market and to run for 40 more years in Boston and DC!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
How lucky I feel to be in business this length of time and to still be absorbed in the work and love what I do. I find working a lot of fun and love being around my colleagues who keep me on my toes.
What’s the best way for the readers of WE Magazine for Women to connect with you?