How To Get Started Promoting Your Show
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and work to promote your show – but you aren’t sure where to turn your attention – you’re in the right place! This page is going to help you create the foundation for a robust, flexible process you can use to approach promoting all your future productions.
Caveat: There is no secret formula
If you’re looking for a killer marketing tactic that you can “rinse and repeat” for every production and get a full house – I’ve got some bad news. It doesn’t exist.
Now that’s not to say you’ll be starting from scratch each time you set out to promote a new show. In fact the skeleton of your marketing plan should be the tactics that have worked for you (or other theatres in your area), but you won’t be stopping there.
On every production you need to be doing at least one thing in your marketing that you’ve never done before. That doesn’t mean using a different printer or buying a few more names to add to your mailing list. It means try a completely different marketing tactic, add someone brand new to your marketing team, or work with a budget that’s double what you’re used to. (Or half what you’re used to if you really want to get the investors excited.)
Keeping track of everything
Of course if you’re always introducing new ideas, it can be tough to keep track of your marketing activity. (I’ve learned this the hard way.) How will you make sure everything is getting done and nothing important gets missed?
Meet your new best friend: a marketing calendar. Sound fancy? It doesn’t have to be. Mine is usually just a spreadsheet with some dates and what marketing activity needs to happen on each date.
Remember when I said that you’re going to start promoting each show with what’s worked before? You won’t be racking your brain to remember what you did to promote the show last time. You have your marketing calendar.
- Get a copy of the last show’s calendar
- Scratch off any ideas that weren’t effective
- Scratch off any ideas that don’t apply to this show (partnerships with local businesses often fall under this category)
- Add something(s) you’ve never done before
I created an example marketing calendar for my email subscribers to download. If that’s something you’d like to get your hands on, you can subscribe here.
Ideal information for newbies
These posts can be particularly useful if you’re trying to get your arms around a consistent marketing process. (Remember you have to change up your tactics and messaging so the public doesn’t lose interest, but your process can be consistent.)
- Your Marketing Tells Me If Your Show Is Any Good
- Four Developmental Phases of Theatre Marketing
- How To Dream Up Something Brand New For Your Marketing
- Theatre Marketing Is Like Investing In the Stock Market
- The Open Book Project: Brainstorming Marketing Tactics
Figuring out which new tactics to add
I have a suggestion for this.
One approach is to add whatever random tactic catches your eye when you’re working on the marketing calendar. If you are really hyped up about a particular tactic (like video trailers, for instance) – and eager to dive in and experiment – then I say go with it. There’s a lot to be said for that kind of raw enthusiasm.
If you want to stimulate your thinking I wrote a big list of theatre marketing tactics with a diverse array of ideas.
But if no particular tactic is capturing your fancy, then I suggest picking a broad category of topics and focusing on getting really good at them before you move on to something else.
If you’d like to get good at press coverage, start there. You’ll still keep all the “old steady” tactics on the marketing calendar, but everything new that you add should center around press coverage. Improve your press releases, build relationships with local journalists, partner with local businesses that get media coverage, or interview the marketing directors of local theatres that seem to have it all figured out.
When you feel like you’ve got the hang of it (which might be one production later or ten) you can move on to something different.
Good categories you might want to consider starting with include social media, press coverage, or email marketing.