What to Expect From Sold Out Run
When you wear the marketing hat for a small theatre (or even a not-so-small theatre) there are a lot of needs that probably end up on your plate: community engagement, audience development, group sales, sponsor relationships, etc.
And because those topics do intersect with marketing, they show up here and there in my content. (I’m not a purist. I’ll write/talk about anything if I think I have some bit of information that might help you sell tickets.)
But my focus when I’m creating content is on marketing an individual production. Being able to promote a show is the cornerstone for all of the other marketing pieces you’re going to put into play. After all you can’t convert first-time visitors to subscribers when all the seats are empty, right?
Sometimes this means I’ll be talking about marketing channels like social media or local press outlets. Or I’ll dig into specific tactics like video trailers and email content. Other times I talk about your process: creating a marketing calendar and understanding how the general public views your promotions.
In each case my goal is to inspire you. Now when I say inspire I don’t mean I’m going to jump up down with poms-poms so you feel more excited about marketing. (Hmm. Well, that’s not a terrible idea…)
All kidding aside, I want to inspire you to make the marketing for your next show better than the marketing for your last show.
That’s my goal for you. Every show. And that’s very much within your reach.
Who Am I?
I live a double life.
Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say I live a triple or quadruple life, but for the purposes of Sold Out Run there are two lives that are notably relevant.
I’m a marketer. I spent 5 years working with a small, six person marketing firm here in Indianapolis up until I left in 2013. When I started there my only responsibility was programming web sites, but by the last few years I was intimately involved in strategy, messaging, content creation, online marketing, etc. You get the idea.
That marketing firm has since dissolved, but if you’re curious the founder and principal (and still my very good friend) lends her marketing brilliance to the Sold Out Run podcast in episode 50.
I’m also an actor. Let’s be honest. If you know a little something about marketing, there are some lucrative industries where you can use that expertise. Theatre doesn’t seem to be one of them.
Yet here I am, doing this. And that’s because I want more theatres to be aware of and take advantage of the marketing insights I’ve gained over the years. I love being a working actor, and the more theatres out there are able to find the right audience for the art they create, the more opportunities there will be for myself and other people like me who feel compelled to create live performance.
Also if enough theatres are able to consistently sell tickets, maybe theatre could be seen as a more “financially responsible” industry to get into. (Are you proud of me now, dad?!)
Actually I know my dad is proud of me, but that line makes me laugh so I had to leave it in.
What’s With the Name?
Back in 2010 I hadn’t been involved with a theatrical production in 12 years. I had put away that part of my life because I felt like I needed to get a good job and live a “responsible” life.
Then I learned that my friend Lynn Lupold was putting on an original musical back in my home town (about a 90-minute drive from where I currently live). A guy I had performed with in high school asked me if I was auditioning. I didn’t want to commit to making that kind of trek back and forth to each rehearsal, but I did want to be involved in some way.
So I reached out to Lynn and offered to help promote the show. I’d never promoted theatre before, but I did work at a marketing firm. And I was volunteering my service, so what did she have to lose? I emailed her a basic marketing plan for the show.
Long story short. (Too late.) The production ended up selling out every performance. We had a Thursday brush up rehearsal on the schedule which we turned into another public performance. In a matter of days, that Thursday night sold out, too.
I had a great time promoting that show, and I realized that a lot of the things I thought of as “common knowledge” in the corporate marketing world, weren’t common in the theatre world at all. Less than two months after the show closed I had published Sold Out Run’s first blog post.
If you’ve read this far, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you like to consume written content. If that’s the case I invite you to subscribe to my email newsletter. I include some extra marketing strategies and examples above and beyond what shows up on the blog. You’ll also be able to download a free copy of the marketing calendar template I start with for each show I promote.
Finally I want to say that I welcome your feedback. Some of the most useful, effective things I’ve learned about marketing over the last few years have come about because somebody told me about a different way they were doing things or challenged one of my assumptions.
So leave a comment on a blog post that you agree (or don’t agree) with. Share with me some marketing tactic that you saw on social media. Ask a question you want me to answer on the podcast.
I love that stuff.
Now, ready to dive in? If you’re new to Sold Out Run start here.