What’s the Best Way To Get Groups To Purchase Tickets To Your Show?
I got a short and sweet question from a reader named Ethel recently. It’s one I think every theatre thinks about – whether that means figuring out how to get started or how to get better results out of what they are already doing.
What’s the best way to get groups to purchase tickets to your show?
My gut reaction…
First off I touch on it a little bit in the podcast episode I have with Catherine Cardwell. She’s involved with the group sales for Indiana Repertory Theatre. That might be worth a listen.
The other thing I’ll mention is that every theatre I can think of that has success with group sales has someone spending a lot of time networking with people and just getting on the phone and calling places. Like almost any other type of sales, a big part of it is just a numbers game. At the end of the day you have to ask a lot of people, and you’ll hear a lot of nos on your way to those yeses.
The more I think about it…
It’s hard to answer what the best way is. It’s not going to be the same answer for every theatre. What type of shows do you put on, what do your existing contacts looks like, and what are other local theatres doing to court group sales are just a few questions that will help determine how you want to move forward.
In very broad strokes, two obvious places to look for group sales are schools (courting whatever age your material is appropriate for) and local businesses who want either or both the prestige of supporting the arts and a means of treating their clients, partners, or employees to a night of theatre.
In either case, it’s going to take personal connections to make these happen. Whoever is handling your group sales needs to be networking in your community and building relationships that will connect them with schools, businesses, or whatever other groups you want to attract. That means going to events and meeting people – and not just theatre events.
If I was in charge of developing group sales for a theatre, I would start by identifying the organizations I wanted to go after, then identifying the best people to know in each organization, and then start networking to meet them. When I do have a first interaction with them, I would probably ask if they had seen any of our shows. If not I would personally invite them to attend a performance (it seems silly to ask someone to buy a block of tickets if they don’t know what type of product you’re putting on stage) and give them the VIP treatment when they did come.
Only then would I talk to them about group sales.