Marketing can often be a dirty word or at the least an afterthought for many schools or small to mid-sized theatre groups. The artistic sentiment can sometimes be that if you’re selling something, it somehow cheapens it or makes it impure. But wanting to increase your audience and appeal to new patrons is as old as theatre itself, and it helps to know how to spread the word about your productions so that you can explore new territory and tell stories on the stage in fresh and exciting ways. Here are a few tips to help you jumpstart your thinking about some strategies to fill more seats this fall and winter.
Give Them Something to Talk About
Word of mouth, tried and true, is still one of the best ways to drum up interest about something. So talk about your production. A lot. And encourage your cast and crew to do so too. You are probably the most passionate person about your play, and when people feel that, they will want to check it out.
Embrace New Ideas and Techniques
It’s is easy to become stagnant and use the same approaches from a few years ago. And the truth is, technology is making things easier and cheaper all the time for schools and theatre groups. For example, many theatre groups are starting to use scenic projections to bring their show to life on stage—without breaking their budget or wasting valuable hours trying to paint even the simplest backdrop. And when you increase the spectacle of your show and transport the audience, a funny thing happens. People come back again and again—and they tell all their friends, too.
Unique Poster Art
We are visual people. We love pictures. Beautiful, spellbinding pictures. And the reality is, that there is a whole lot of sameness out there when it comes to theatre posters. This is your opportunity to shine, to stand out, and to send out that most important first message about your production—that it’s fun, alive, creative and professional!
Social Media Campaign
Social media is not at its best as a single ad you pound out, repeatedly asking people who may or may not know you to come to your show. Instead, ask first why people go to Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. They go because they want to be entertained, inspired, have a break in their day, and connect with people they know and love. Consistently post fun quotes, behind the scenes pictures, stories and videos about the show you’re doing—if you would share it, they will share it—and they’ll come see your show too.
Assemble a covert team and plaster the town with a riddle that intrigues people about your play. Flash mob a great show number in an unexpected place. Be creative! Out of the box! Theatrical! Your entire goal is to drum up talk. And be sure to have a flyer on hand to give people a way to follow up when they’re amazed and want to see more.
Give It For Free
Volunteer your cast for school shows, county fairs, club meetings, and beyond. Anywhere you can put your troupe up on stage. It’s like a test drive of your show. If you can give people a taste of what’s to come, they will be much more eager to give your whole show a try.