This is my first blog post on the new Whats On The Fringe blog. We have a number of writers who you will get to know over the coming months. Each of them are going to be looking at different things within the theatre scene and this left me in a position of wondering what I could focus my writing on.
It took some time, but I suddenly realised that I should write about what I am most asked about…
Using the internet to market a theatre company, production or venue.
Internet marketing is still relatively new and the landscape is changing rapidly. With the speed of technology change this is unlikely to slow down in the near future, and as the internet and social media become increasingly popular it is a form of communication that cannot be ignored.
In fact, acknowledging it is the very least you should do. It should be actively embraced as a medium to be used to connect with, and understand your audiences, and what they want to see.
I found the need to skill myself in the use of internet marketing, something that has generally been neglected by many involved in theatre.
Some companies have embraced it, and I wholeheartedly admire them for doing so, but they have not gone about it the right way and therefor are not seeing the benefits that are actually available.
The use of internet marketing to drive ticket sales and audiences is not understood in an industry which, while being at the forefront of development as an art, is notoriously slow to progress in its marketing.
It is with this in mind, that I thought it would be appropriate to help anybody who has a theatre company, production, venue or in fact any other form of arts business, to gain huge advantages by being able to manipulate internet marketing.
In any form of marketing you need to find the people who are interested in what you have to say and then show them that they should trust and listen to what you are saying, and nothing is different online.
The internet is all about relationships. You need to build a relationship a long time before you ever try and sell a ticket to your show.
Ultimately, people are interested in people. They want to know about you, why you setup your company, what drives you, the mistakes you make.
Share this information and you will find that your followers grows.
Over the coming months I will revisit the theme of nurturing relationships time and again, as it is the basis of any good internet marketing strategy whether it be by social media, articles, blogs or email.
In this article however, I want to focus on engaging with your audience before your production even begins!
Your production schedule follows these steps…
- Get a script
- Find a venue
- Sell tickets
The key to a successful show, selling tickets, is left until the end in this process. Not a good idea!
In a marketing scenario the show is not the final goal. Your ticket sales are. The best show in the world is a flop if nobody comes to see it!
Therefore the people involved in your final goal must be involved from the beginning. This is a different way of perceiving your production process. If you want people to spend money on an unknown product then you need to give them a reason for doing so. Involve them from the beginning and they actually become and feel a part of the process.
Every production should have its own space on the internet. If you don’t want to spend any money on a website then you can start a Facebook Fan Page completely free of charge.
Involve your audience in your production from the very beginning using videos, photos and status updates. While you may not want to film auditions, and it could get messy with contracts, there is absolutely no reason that you shouldn’t be doing this from the rehearsal period if it is written into the contracts.
Most mobile phones these days have high quality video recorder and camera. Have someone during rehearsals whose job it is to record and photograph and then upload to the Fan Page. Drive discussions with your audience by using status updates throughout the rehearsal process, and see, via their comments, which parts of the show they are already liking.
Don’t make the mistake of uploading just the good parts. People love to see mistakes, they are interesting and funny. Sharing the arguments, discussions, debates and mistakes that go on during rehearsals will make your audience feel a part of the process. They have an ownership in the production and will of course come and see it.