“Edith was really the original brander,” remarks Susan Claasen, a professional actress and the Artistic Director of the Invisible Theatre in Tucson, Arizona. She’s referring to the renowned costume designer, Edith Head, who provided costumes for 446 films and won eight Academy Awards. Susan should know. She spends much of her time bringing the icon to life in her touring one-woman show, A Conversation with Edith Head.
“She was doing the red carpet before Joan Rivers—may she rest in peace—was born because that’s what Hollywood costume designers did. She put a face on the profession. If she were alive today, she’d have the most popular and influential fashion blog around. She knew marketing,” Susan continued. “She was syndicated in thirty-five or forty magazines. This was unheard of at the time. Edith wanted to share her tricks with women and gentlemen everywhere. She was on television doing makeovers before the term was coined.”
Today, there are countless available platforms for creating red-carpet experiences for your customers. Best of all, when they are used effectively, you not only engage your fans but give them an easy way to rave about you and your company everywhere!
Susan Claasen, much like Edith Head, is an expert in doing this. I met Susan when she brought her show to North Carolina Stage Company in Asheville, North Carolina. She was enthralling. I easily imagined myself in the presence of the legend herself. (In fact, I saw the show twice!) However, the experience did not end when Susan (as Edith) left the stage. When the audience reluctantly left their seats and went back to the lobby, we found that the red carpet was rolled out for us and “Edith” was waiting.
- In character, Susan posed with her fans on the carpet under a sign bearing the name of her show while the “paparazzi” took photos. She and her team capture the email addresses (hence, building their mailing list) of fans. After the show, they sent us each our photo with Edith Head and a personal note.
- During the show, Edith gently pokes fun at a man in the audience, suggesting he might wear a bag over his head and that his outfit would not be ‘Edith approved’. That lucky gentleman gets to pose with and without the bag over his head on the red carpet. Throughout the post-show, Edith makes sassy comments about the outfits of audience members and presents each person with a gold sticker that says Edith Head Approved. I believe I even saw the man with the bag over his head sporting a sticker.
Susan came up with that idea when she performed at the Edinborough Fringe Festival, a huge event with over 2000 different productions happening at the same time. “People from all over the world (who perhaps had never heard of Edith Head) wanted a sticker and a photo on the red carpet.”
Of course, the first thing I did when I received my photo was post it on social media. In fact, there’s a photo of my Edith Head approved sticker on my Facebook page as well.
This is an excerpt from 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers by Donna Cutting. The rest of the chapter (and indeed the rest of the book!) is filled with easy-to-implement ideas for creating red-carpet experiences that go viral. There are also tips for using unique marketing strategies, events, and community involvement to give back, engage customers, and build buzz about your business.
How can you use Susan’s example to build buzz-worthy experiences for your customers? For instance, Rick Salmeron of Salmeron Financial had ice cream delivered to all his customers during a particularly hot week in July! He said the cost was less than taking out an ad in the newspaper and created a huge social media buzz. Realtor Alex Bracke hosts a movie night for his customers once a year and it’s all anyone talks about.
What about you? Comment below and let us know your ideas for creating buzz-worthy moments for your customers!