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Turning it Around - using personal experiences as material

Turning it around - using personal experience as material - Marketing Doris

Last night I was in the audience at the Rhod Gilbert Book of John show at the Opera House in Manchester.

The tickets had been booked since last year, I had jumped straight onto the booking site the minute I opened the email announcing the tour. I’d always been a big fan of Rhod’s since I first seen him at the Comedy Store in Manchester many years ago ranting about an award winning mince pie… and let me tell you that from that point on.. any mention of any food item or menu option being award winning almost always means it gets chosen.

I’ve also been a keen watcher of the Work Experience series, particularly the tattooist episode and the Battenberg tribute .. who couldn’t fail to be a fan? I even tuned into the documentary Rhod did on shyness and was amazed and inspired by the knowledge he was a lifelong sufferer and yet he was still able to get on stage or appear on TV.

So, there you go, I’m a fan and was excited to have got the tickets secured so early on… and then I saw Rhod on the Royal Variety Show, and in amongst the other acts he did a quick piece from his upcoming tour (the frozen prawns I think it was) and my heart sank. It just didn’t seem to have the same impact or funniness that I had grown to love from Mr Gilbert, and I worried that maybe I just didn’t get his humour anymore.

Still the tickets were bought, and I was going with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in ages, so it was a great reason to get together early for dinner (great food until the hair in the Moussaka was discovered but that’s another story!) and have a catch up. We arrived at the theatre and the stage was set ready for Rhod to start with his tour graphic lit up and two roller banners, United against Dementia and The Stroke Association. Obviously worthwhile and important charities, but it was quite unusual to have those displayed on a comedy show tour.. .. and then it became clear.

The show started and almost immediately it became apparent that Rhod was still on top form, he was incredibly funny, and able to quickly adapt and ad-lib when random pieces of red confetti weirdly fell intermittently onto the stage during his set. He spoke openly about personal issues that had affected him and his family over the last few years from the death of his mother, his father’s illness, his own and his wife’s ill-health and separately their struggle to become parents.

Sounds like a right barrel of laughs doesn’t it? Well it was, but as well as providing him with material for a tour to help him earn a living, hopefully it has also helped him grieve, process, live with, adjust and move on in his life. His story will also help many other people in similar situations and hopefully will help shift those barriers that are still there with certain subjects that can be considered embarrassing or too personal to share.

Rhod is donating from the ticket sales to the two charities; The Alzheimer’s Association and The Stroke Association and in addition mentioned he had set up a Justgiving page  in case people felt able to make a separate donation.

I came away from the show with mixed emotions; one that it had been an entertaining evening and we had laughed lots, I also felt a lot of admiration for Rhod for his bravery in speaking about these experiences and what an incredible boost his tour will have on the awareness of these charities and the conditions he spoke about. I want to say its #goodmarketing because it is – however I also feel that makes it sound like it was done purely for commercial reasons when its clear that wasn’t the driving factor.

Showing our vulnerabilities or sharing our personal experiences isn’t always applicable in the work place but as Rhod demonstrated last night, it can be a positive thing. People buy from People so showing your personality, what makes you tick, your likes and dislikes, what inspires you, what makes you laugh, why do you do what do can all be used as inspirations in your marketing and your content.

Check out The Rhod Gilbert Book of John tour for yourself - for help with content or marketing – give me a call on 0790 3727750

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Flanagan Shaw
Rachel Flanagan, Director
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