Sunday, November 8, 2015

On Point with James Highgate #1

This article was previously published in Talewinds and will be part of an ongoing series of reprint and syndication of the continuing article named On Point with James Highgate.

Hello good gentles of Trimaris!

This will be the first of a monthly column where I discuss various elements of ‘human interest’ in the
SCA, give advice, or otherwise comment on the going’s on throughout the Kingdom from the
perspective of a relative newcomer to the Society.

If you have a topic you’d like to see addressed, please see the contact information listed below and I’ll be happy to wax poetic (hah) on any topic you like!

This month’s topic is how to adjust the sales pitch when attending a Kingdom or local Demo. The
important thing to remember is that a Demo is not like a normal event – it is strictly for the point of
attracting newcomers to our Society; such as local ren faires and the like. While this, to some extent,
means that you can show up and simply do whatever it is you do (such as illumination, fighting, etc), the thing to remember is that you’re doing it “on stage”.

Specifically, however, this goes to those gentles who come to Demos to be a roving Hospitaller –
standing in front of the camp or display, trying to attract people to come inside and look around.

There’s a trick to this – in marketing, it’s called giving a ‘sales pitch’. When doing so, the primary concern is to pick the right pitch for your audience; in short, knowing what your audience wants before they do. People go to Ren Faire’s looking some indefinable quality – and it’s usually not the overpriced commercial mead.

So when you’re doing the ‘roving Hospitaller’ or ‘front door man’ position, use the right approach – if you’re talking to a small, older, lady, talk up our artisans and crafts people. If you’re talking to someone who looks reasonably fit and into sports, talk up the various martial techniques. Pick the part of our society that is most likely to appeal to them, and tell them about it. Offer to walk them into the tent and introduce them to an expert on the topic – often times the personal touch of an introduction can make a person feel really welcome.

Additionally, there’s an aspect to giving a sales pitch called starting with a ‘positive statement’. This is often used when the audience has a really short attention span – such as walking from booth to booth window shopping at a Faire. Open up with something to get their attention in the first five seconds – if you can’t even get them to stop walking long enough to look, the pitch doesn’t matter.

I usually open with something along the lines of “Hello! We’re the Society for Creative Anachronism, we’re not here selling anything but simply as guests of the faire. If you like anything you see here, we’d love to teach it to you!”

They usually stop for one of three reasons: to ask what an ‘anachronism’ is, because I’ve told them
we’re not selling anything, or because they like the idea of learning whatever might be on display. This kind of quick intro is usually enough to get them to stop moving long enough to explain that we’re a not for profit teaching organization filled with a bunch of history geeks – if they’re somewhere we’re doing a demo, it’s highly likely THEY ARE A HISTORY GEEK, TOO!

In closing, always remember that when you’re at a demo, be it to fight, craft, or just generally help out and talk to people, you’re there to put on a show. So put on a good one!

Yours in Service to the Dream,

Lord James Highgate of Darkwater is protégé to Baroness Ilene Johnnestoune and Cadet to Don William of Aschem. He holds the awards for Poet Laureate and the Bard of Darkwater for his written and performed poetic works.

He can be reached for comments, questions, or article suggestions at

No comments:

Post a Comment