I have a great listener question in this episode. Joni shares that booking agents she’s worked with swear up and down by using flyers to promote shows. She’s running into legal issues and wants to know what’s the right way to use them. The short answer is I think flyers can be a fantastic promotional tool, although I’m not a fan of how most people use them. I share my thoughts, and of course if you have a theatre marketing question of your own you can ask it here.
My name is Clay Mabbitt. I have a professional marketing background, and a love of theatre.
After seeing and being part of some exceptional theatre that never found its audience, I felt compelled to share what I know to help raise the level of promotion going on for stage productions.
Welcome, and if you’re new to Sold Out Run I encourage you to take a quick look at what this site is about.
There are times when promoting a show is the least satisfying part of putting together a production. It requires many hours of hard work - hours that very few people will ever realize you spent. Often we’re fumbling around with little to no budget on a truncated time line with only limited feedback that our efforts are even connecting with an audience.
The dubious thrill of pushing ticket sales is usually not what attracted us to live theatre in the first place.
SOR 56: Dave Levett Talks About How Even the Smallest Theatre Can Get Meaningful Data About Its Audience
I was spending some time poking around Twitter on the subject of theatre marketing, and I came across Lollipop Marketing. They are an agency out of London with roots in Sydney, and I convinced founder Dave Levett to talk with me about what he’s figured out so far about marketing theatre. We ended up diving into some great tactics and tools that theatres can use to start collecting demographic and psychographic information about their audience – and put it to use.
A few days ago I was having a beer with two of my friends who have also been involved with marketing theatre over the last few years. Actually both have been doing it longer than I have, so naturally I did a lot more listening than talking. They’ve been working with larger theatres than I typically do, so it wasn’t surprising that there were some mentions of grant proposals and corporate sponsors.
The lion’s share of the conversation, though, was about show selection and marketing individual shows. This seems to be an issue for every size of theatre – and there seems to be at least a few people at each level who misunderstand the role of marketing.
Normally I’m a big fan of checklists. I love breaking down a big task (like promoting a show) into bite-size tasks that I can wrap my brain around. I love the feeling of progress as I tick items off and seeing my big to-do list gradually convert into a to-done list.
The problem comes when you introduce checklists into your marketing too soon. Early on your marketing must be creative and organic and taking you in new directions. Checklists stifle all of those things. They’re great for efficiency and focus, but you only need that when you are executing your marketing plan. When you’re still dreaming it up, a checklist can actually hold you back.
I talk a lot at Sold Out Run about the importance of having a marketing calendar for your theatre productions. (At least if you care about people seeing them.) But what goes on it? You can download the template I use and start making changes, but how far do you need to go with those changes?
The 10-second answer is to make it as detailed as you need to. The 15-minute answer is this episode of the podcast.