A marketing strategy is simply a road map of specific ways and methods you will use to promote your show and/or organization. Just as a blueprint is used by architects to illustrate their building plans, a good marketing strategy will allow you to illustrate how you will effectively communicate with audiences that will come out to see and benefit from your performance. Let’s take a look at creating a basic strategy.
A good place to start is to list the goals and objectives you wish to accomplish with your production/organization. This will give you targets to aim for as well as have a good idea of your progression towards it.
Examples of specific goals and objectives:
- Sell 80% of seats each night
- Double our newsletter subscribers
- Increase online ticket purchases via our website
PRO TIP: When listing your goals, keep sentences short and in an active voice. Instead of writing ‘Get people to my show’, try ‘Sell 80% of seats each night’. The former is a broad statement that doesn’t inspire specific ways of going about it, while the latter allows you to ask questions: ‘How many seats does my venue hold?’, ‘Will 80% of seats sold every night be enough to break even?’, ‘Am I in a position to set a lower target?’.
The term ‘target market’ simply refers to what segmented portion of the population you will use your energy and resources to communicate with. Typically, markets are segmented geographically, demographically, psychographically and/or behaviourally. You might not need to use all of these categories in your segmentation. If your show is in Toronto (and is not touring elsewhere) for example, you wouldn’t use your resources to try and communicate with audiences in Ottawa (geographical segmentation).
Here are some questions to ask when developing your target market:
- Is there a specific age-group that my show speaks to?
- What are some themes in my show? Do they have to do with specific issues that are present to a certain type of people?
- Is my show touring? Do I need to focus on different locations?
- Is my venue accessible or inaccessible to certain people? Check out detailed Accessibility questions here.
PRO TIP: Be as objective as you can. The more you can profile your market, the better chances you have of being able to reach them. Inferences will no doubt be a part of this phase, but it’s best not to infer too much. Performing a Marketing Analysis might be a good idea at this stage. The more research and facts you can use to support your chosen target market, the better. Remember, there isn’t always just one ‘target market’ that your show will speak to. You are choosing to reach out to them based on your resources as well as other factors based on your situation, any audience member outside of this targeted market is a happy bonus!
Now that we defined who we would like to target, let’s think about figuring out what communication channels they use and how they typically receive information. Things to consider:
- What does my target group have an interest in?
- Where do these people access their information? (Social media, discussions with friends, Newspaper, TV, Radio, etc..)
- Where do these people spend their time?
- Who do they spend their time with? (This will give you people to model after when developing the voice and tone of your campaign)
- Do they speak in a specific vernacular?
- What is a day in their life like?
PRO TIP: It can be very hard to list these characteristics without already wanting to think about how and what you will do to access these people, but try your best to refrain from doing so. You are still in the information gathering stages, so it’s best to stay away from drawing conclusions about these people.
This term sounds pretty cool, and can be as powerful as a S.W.A.T team is, when used correctly. A S.W.O.T (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) Analysis is an effective way to look at your current situation and evaluate the resources you have. The first two categories are internal factors, meaning that you should be looking within your organization when listing items. The latter two are external factors, meaning you should be observing outside of your organization/team/project. Let’s look at a breakdown:
It could be anything from having a large budget, to having a dedicated team of volunteers, to having a large following.
Small budget? Working alone? Don’t have a strong digital footprint? Did a key player in your team just quit?
Is the venue offering you cheap/free rental? Did someone offer to partner up with your project and cross-promote? Are there any festivals your show can be a part of?
Is there another show/event that is going on at the same time as yours? Did your venue become suddenly unavailable?
Once you establish a few points in each category, the goal is to try and find ways to maximize your strengths and use them to reduce weaknesses. You also want to take advantage of your opportunities to avoid and/or minimize threats.
By now you have a good sense of what your goals are, who you choose to target and where they access and receive information. You have also analyzed our strengths and weaknesses, saw what opportunities you can take advantage of and listed possible threats that can endanger your project. Here is where you can decide what tactics you will use to fill up the house during the run. These tactics are specific actionable items that you can implement as a way to meet the goals defined above. This is where you would typically list your strategy for advertising, promotions, publicity and public relations.
- Actionable: You want specific tactics that you can act upon
- Measurable: Although not always possible, it is best to try and keep your tactics measurable so that you can track your progress in regards to how close you are to achieving the goals you have set out
- Simple: Each Individual tactic should be simple and have one specific function
PRO TIP: At this point, you should have actionable items that you can implement. During the implementation of your strategy, keep an eye out for what is working, and what isn’t and don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly. The purpose of a marketing strategy is to give you a clear path ahead. It is meant to be flexible, and should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to make sure it is meeting your needs.
One way to think about Marketing is as a tree with the following branches:
While each branch has its own set of things to focus on, all of them tie in together to make a cohesive and complete marketing plan.
A promo kit (short for promotional kit) is essential for creating and driving buzz during the lead-up to your performance. Some people use the terms ‘press kit’ and ‘promo kit’ interchangeably; the main difference being that the former refers to content going out directly to media outlets for distribution, while the latter refers to all distribution channels (including, but not limited to media outlets). 'Media Kit' is another term often used to refer to the content going out to media outlets.
Whether it be print material, digital or a mix of both, here are some ideas of what you may want to include in your promo kits.
This release should be sent to all pertinent media outlets for distribution. In it, you should include:
- A brief description of the performance.
- Show Dates
- Cast list
- Short company blurb/info
- Any other information you would like the media to showcase
Refer here for more info on Press Releases and Media Kits.
PRO TIP: Make the press release easy for reporters to tell your story. If you have visuals, include them in your release, or link to where they can easily download them. Try to keep your release short and to the point. Media outlets usually receive a lot of releases and they will be much more likely to distribute your news if it can be quickly and easily digested.
In today’s world, people spend less and less time reading text to receive information. Capturing thought through images (or videos) continues to be the best way to engage people through
‘A picture speaks a thousand words.’ Having strong images that capture the essence of your production will resonate with a larger audience than text alone. Consider hiring a professional photographer to take pictures of your rehearsals and/or show.
Images and videos attract exponentially more attention than the written word. In creating these videos, you always want your audiences left with the feeling of wanting
more. You may decide to include excerpts of the show itself, or to simply have interviews and back-stage content that gives viewers a closer look into what goes on behind the scenes.
PRO TIP: When creating teaser videos, keep them to a maximum of 2 1/2 minutes. You want to have enough time to tease audiences with the themes surrounding your project, all the while leaving them with a sense of wanting more. It is important to always remember that you want them to feel satisfied at the end of your show, not before.
Having a recognizable poster with a captivating image is a great way to increase anticipation of your show. Consider including the following features:
- Captivating image/design
- Show dates
- Venue location
- Name of producing company
- Name of director
- Website URL (where they can find more information)
- Box office phone number
Much like your poster, your flyer will drive audience buzz in the lead up to your performances. Since this is usually a much smaller version of your poster, you might want to minimize the amount of information you include to:
- Show dates/times
- Venue location
- Website URL
- Phone Number
When designing your marketing materials, here are some things to keep in mind in terms of making the materials accessible for people with disabilities to read through. It will make all of your marketing materials easier for everyone in the long run.
- Fonts: ensure your fonts are legible and readable
- Page Layout: use wide margins and columns with sufficient space between them. Left-justified is easiest to read. White space guides the reader’s eye, so use it effectively. It is best to places images to the right of a text.
- Colour and Contrast: high contrast colours are great for text and background, it’s best to have your text in black for readability
- Images and Graphics: provide concise text alternatives for images and graphics and longer descriptions for charts and graphs
- Paper Selection: matte surfaces are better than glossy
Collect articles pertinent to your company or performance. These can either be ones that you create, or that have been written by someone else about your show. The idea here is to have
content that audiences can read, informing them of your show & organization.
- Reviews of a past show
- News about producing organization
- Article about specific theme that show will be exploring
- Blogs & articles you write about your exploration process.
PRO TIP: Try to collect a variety of articles. They do not all need to be specifically about your
project or organization, but they should all surround one theme that you are trying to promote with your marketing efforts. Publish articles that are relevant and will start a larger conversation. The more dialogue or ‘buzz’ you can create through these articles, the better your overall results will be.
Having bios of your cast, crew and artistic team is great to have. Posting them on a section of your website for example is a great way to inform the general public of who you are. People will
get a sense of why you are doing this work, and will probably be more likely to come and support you.
If you have people who signed up to receive e-blasts, use them. These people have an active interest in knowing what you are up to and receiving your updates. Some things to keep in
- Keep news relevant
- Don’t bombard your contacts with emails
- Link to other channels where they can receive more information
- Be mindful of anti-spam laws
If your show is being sponsored or endorsed by a company or public figure, be sure to include that information on your promotional material. Having their logo tied to your show is great exposure and will allow you to reach more potential audience members
Now that your promo kit is assembled, you should decide what information you want to publicize and when. You don’t want to start promoting your show too early because you might 1) run out of content, and 2) Become irrelevant to present day news/activities. Starting to advertise and promote between 6 and 3 months to your performance is ideal, though this timeline will depend heavily on the size of your performance. Some things to keep in mind when promoting your show:
- Start off slow. Don’t bombard people with information. Ease into your promotional campaign; the closer you get to the performance, the more information you can start distributing you will have, by this time, built up your buzz organically.
- Create A Conversation. Good promotional campaigns do not solely ask people to buy tickets to a show. They spark thought and intrigue by creating material surrounding the themes OF their show.
- Listen. This is probably the most important concept when promoting. Actively listen to how your material is being received, and adjust accordingly. Creating a dialogue with your audience is the best way to make people want to come out and see it.