Bums on Seats – The Eternal Challenge!
These days it’s ALL about ticket sales and the headache of promoting and advertising a play or musical can be a complete nightmare. We all need to sell tickets to continue to put on our productions – so what are the options available to us all?
These days many people wait until the last minute to book tickets – are there any ways we can encourage them to do it sooner. How can you make the prospect of seeing your show so exciting they simply cannot wait?
The first thing I will say is, that unless groups and societies help each other then we are only able to promote to a tiny proportion of the potential audience out there. This for me, is the main reason for this website and blog, to encourage partnership between groups. After all, many of our societies membership belong to more than one group, so why shouldn’t our audiences?
The production itself can make the job easier or harder to sell. Some shows or plays can just make the job so much easier. But how can we make it still interesting and appealing to everyone else and sell tickets. My first message is to plan your marketing strategy from pre-auditions through to show week. A full and thorough plan. You need to engage with prospective audience members from the start and encourage them to follow the story through to the stage. Make it sound so exciting or fascinating they would be crazy to miss it.
Photos: Plan photo opportunities from the start – so you have lots of different images you can use – then you have lots of opportunities for social media and your website. Seeing a repeated image over and over again – for those already who have made the decision to see your play it reinforces the message but some may skim over because it’s the same image each time – so shake it up with different images – think about what would make a good impact – people rehearsing pre-auditions, the cast together when they are announced, any unusual requirements for the show, cast being measured for costumes, any charitable activities – the list goes on and on. Take photos constantly at rehearsals as funny photos could be used for a caption competition to win tickets etc. but you need lots of images. Get any publicity photos done as early as possible so you can drip feed them to raise interest. A picture paints a thousand words! So get snapping.
Your website: I cannot say how many society and group websites I have seen where the content is not up to date. Your website is possibly your main window to the world. USE IT! Make sure all the details and news items about the show can be found on the home page – don’t expect potential audiences to search for it – the average person will look at a home page and then if they can’t find what they want they will exit the site within minutes. Make it easy to see and keep it updated.
Social Media: This is often our main vein to the outside world. Is there a someone who would write a blog during rehearsals and through to technical rehearsal, dress and opening night about their experience and what is happening? Audiences love to know the backstage gossip and ins and outs of a production – don’t tell them everything but a few bits of interesting news is a sure fire hit. You should always have 2 or 3 people in a company with the ability to tweet and post on social media so it can always be updated whenever. Remember that the person who sees your post/tweet in the morning will not necessarily be the same person who is online at 6pm at night. So, make sure you vary and duplicate your posting times. You can use free software like Hootsuite (other software is available) to schedule posts over days, weeks or months – making sure that your production is regularly out there in front of people and encourage your cast and techs to re-tweet and re-post everything – the further afield it goes the better.
Also, share other local groups posts and tweets and then they will hopefully do the same back – create your own network and broaden your potential audience.
Videos: Many groups do promotional videos – my word of advice on these is make sure that several people see and review it before it goes live. One person’s idea of a good video may be lost in translation to a wider audience. What are the objectives of the video, can it be misinterpreted, what is the call to action? Plan, plan and plan again.
Competitions: These are great provided you are getting people to enter and get local media eg: newspapers or radio stations on board. The earlier you can set these up and run them the better. Again, add it into your long-term plan!
Could you offer a discount for early booking – or for booking more than one production at a time? What other incentives can you offer? You probably already do group bookings – remember these are the very people who do plan ahead rather than wait until show week – how can you work with them?
This is just a few of the ideas available and we will discuss more over time. If you have any questions about promoting your production, then do email us and if we can offer any help or advice we will, plus please keep sending up information about your productions and we will promote them too.