Your Marketing Tells Me If Your Show Is Any Good

The quality of the promotions for your show is the same level as the quality of your production. Good logo means a good show. If you have lots of coverage in the local newspaper and radio stations, then your show is both poignant and funny. The craftmanship that goes into your website at perfectly mirrors the dedication and talent of your cast and crew.

None of those statements are necessarily true, but those are the conclusions that your potential audience will be drawing every time they see something about your show. (If they don’t see you mentioned anywhere, they draw conclusions from that, too.)

Auditioning For an Audience

Your audience is going to view your marketing as an accurate reflection of your art. You can kick the dirt and wish for things to be different, but that’s just the way the world works.

You are auditioning for your audience with every promotional piece you put out there. There’s a lot of talented competition for the role of “Friday night’s entertainment.” If you want that part, you need to show them what you’ve got. You need to help them see you in that role, and make them want to see more.

Take Pride in Your Promotions

There’s simply no excuse for dialing in your promotional efforts. You can’t email a press release to the local paper, give your cast a stack of flyers, and cross your fingers. If that’s your marketing plan, then you are blowing your audition. Frankly that comes across more like you are embarrassed of your show, and you sincerely hope nobody comes to see it.

There’s a lot of talented competition for the role of “Friday night’s entertainment.”

What gets you excited about this production? If the music is sensational you need to get on the radio, perform a song or two for free at the local park the week the show opens, or send a 30 second downloadable mp3 to everyone who’s ever been to a musical in your town.

Did you change the gender of one of the main characters? Offer to come in and talk at the local university’s gender studies classes or even high schools about why you made the change and what it means. Interview local talent that has played the role in the traditional gender, and put together all their responses about the idea into a short video that you can pass around social media channels.

Do something to let people see you believe in this show and are thrilled to have your name attached to it.

Unless of course you really are embarrassed by your production. In which case a press release, flyers, and maybe a “buy-tickets-please” post on Facebook will be enough to convince people that you really did try to promote the show… without running the risk of having people actually show up.

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  1. I LOVE this site! It is EXACTLY what I am looking for! I am a magician who is marketing a show/lecture called “The History of Modern-Day Magic”, which takes place in a mythical museum called the Museum of Modern Day Magic, and the curator ( me) takes you on a journey through time to experience the growth and popularity of magic through pictures, stories, videos, and magic demonstrations. My problem: I want to market this to colleges and universities, but don’t know how to get started.

    Daniel P. on Mon, Jun 8th, 2015 at 10:51am
    • Daniel, glad you found the site. When I think of campus events, I’m picturing the organizations that handle the bookings for stand up comedians and small portable acts like that. If you’re targeting the students, you might want to base some research around how stand up acts get some of their early gigs (beyond open mic nights, that is).

      If you want to go more through the university administration, I’d look for contact information around a student activities board or committee. Good luck!

      Clay Mabbitt on Sat, Jun 13th, 2015 at 7:34pm
  2. Wow. I am a researcher by nature but it still took me this long to find your site. I have been looking for confirmation because I was actually on the verge of giving up on my passion. I wanted to go into coaching and business strategies for playwrights but wasn’t sure if I could help anyone. I am a playwright as well and like me, most playwrights I know are solo and don’t have a huge budget for doing their shows but they do have passion and heart for the craft. I wanted to help then pull off successful productions for a little money so they could eventually leave corporate and step into their passions full time. Thank you

    Latoya on Sun, Jun 28th, 2015 at 6:42am
    • Glad you found the site, Latoya! Hope it helps.

      Clay Mabbitt on Tue, Jun 30th, 2015 at 12:16pm
  3. Hi! Please can I have some advice? I am trying to market a show I’m producing and directing on 5th December and am only about 1/10 of the way to being full. I’ve been updating Facebook with details of the play, photos of rehearsals, how to book, a competition to win £25 to the person who generates the most tickets (especially told this to cast), have given cast posters to put up in their drama department at school, have started on Twitter also following other people and have got 103 followers in the first week and have started a blog which I tell all the Twitter and FB followers about which has photos also and some blogs about what the charity we’re supporting do, but don’t know how to get other bloggers to see as I’m so new to this. Just wondered if I’m doing it all wrong here? I’m really keen to get more tips to see what I can do in our last month – please help!

    Lisa Whiting on Mon, Nov 9th, 2015 at 1:38am
    • Lisa, it sounds like you are doing a lot of things right. Depending on your market, having 10% of your tickets sold right now could mean your ahead or behind. There’s no standard for the timing of advanced sales.

      I’m very much on the outside looking in, but two things occurred to me as I was reading your comment.

      1. Don’t expect or demand too much from your cast. If they’re like most casts, they will do things if you make it easy for them. Sharing cool stuff that you put on Facebook is very reasonable to expect. In rare cases they may put up a poster or two, but more often than not those posters are just going to sit in the back of their cars. It’s not because they are lazy or don’t want the show well-attended, but promoting the show is not what they signed up for. I have also never heard of giving an incentive for someone else to promote the show for you giving much return. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but I’ve never heard of it. (If you do feel like you get some results from this tactic, I’d love to talk to you about it after your production.)

      2. What are you doing to contact people with existing audiences? It’s helpful to get in front of mainstream press like the local paper, but a lot of times that’s about who you know and your reputation. If you don’t already have that relationship, you probably won’t get it in the next month. So think about smaller markets can you get in front of. What’s the smallest radio station in your town? (Maybe college or even a good high school station.)

      Good luck!

      Clay Mabbitt on Mon, Nov 9th, 2015 at 12:01pm
  4. We are a 13 cast, Theater performing Tribute band, on our 3rd promoter and 4th Year of Theaters. Taking splits with box offices and slowly growing our brand and show. But the ever illusive bums on seats!! We have learned so much and also so little. But hopefully reading this site will help steer us the in the right direction.

    Justine on Wed, Nov 30th, 2016 at 9:24am

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