Ever wondered how to sell out your fringe show?
How to build an army of supporters who will promote your play for free?
How to guarantee to break even before opening night?
Here’s ten tips tip make your fringe show a hit.
1. Make a splash
Learning from the Michael Grandage Company, we kept our entire project secret until the venue, posters and trailer were ready to go. Rather than leak out details, this created a big splash and reached nearly 3000 people in 24 hours.
Our Crowdfunding campaign had two purposes; to raise money for the production, and also to create a grassroots army of advocates who would promote the show. We crunched the data on other campaigns to work out which rewards to offer and empowered our backers with marketing assets so that they could promote the show amongst their networks. We raised £1300 towards the show and brought 60 advocates on board.
We knew that our Facebook fans and Kickstarter supporters were our biggest advocates, and so we used our communication to take them on the journey with us. Rather than customers or bookers, we see our audience as ambassadors and advocates for the production — each promoting the show to their networks. Facebook statuses were signed-off by members of the cast so that fans felt connected, and we created regular video blogs reaching 3.4K people. Blogs were connected to the play and encouraged fans to feel like they were a part of the team bringing Caught to the stage and were an honest reflection of how the process was going, rather than a glossy marketing video.
4. Get Social
Drawing inspiration from the poster portraits, we created a photobooth at the venue where patrons could have their ‘mugshot photo’ taken. These spread virally online, as it taps into people’s natural urges to show off the trendy events they’ve been to in a fun shareable photo format. It brought our brand to dozens of new networks, raising awareness and ticket sales.
5. The battle is won before it’s begun
We did as much work as possible on marketing and budgeting months ahead, so that we could concentrate on details much more when we were pushed for time in production week.
6. Invest in marketing
Caught is by a new writer with no track record, and we knew that we had to convince venues and audiences that it was a worthwhile show. So we commissioned a top photographer, Mihaela Bodlovic, to create stunning posters, three months before opening night. We knew that reviews would come out too late for us to capitalise on, so these photos and trailer were the core of our marketing strategy. Without these images, we likely wouldn’t have attracted the venue, director, and audience that we did.
7. Smart Marketing
Print marketing is expensive, and so we created powerful social media campaigns targeted to our audience base. Using Facebook’s hyper-targeting features, we were able to only display ads to individuals who we felt were likely to book.
The production only seats 50 and lasted an hour long so it would have been easy to only do the minimum tech required. However any quality production takes time, and so we invested three days in the theatre to build a quality set and give the creative team the time and space they needed to fully realise their vision. This investment meant we had to do more fundraising, but was worthwhile in the feedback which the production received.
9. Make it personal
There were a number of influential industry figures and critics who we wanted to invite but, with no track record, knew we would struggle. So we created eye catching ‘case files’ as invitations, which provoked a great reaction from the people we needed, and at very little cost. Case files reflected the theme of the production, whilst also being personal to the individual. Think about what aspects of your production you could use for invitations.
10. Maximising revenue
To attract a diverse audience, Caught offered accessible tickets at £10 and discounts to £8. To offset this, we promoted Premium Tickets, which hadn’t been used at the venue previously. These offered bookers the best seats in the house, as well as a free programme. We sold more than 20 of these tickets, which brought in over £100 extra revenue which we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. Some customers are always willing to pay more to get the best experience, so offer it if you can.
Let me know your own ideas in the comments below.
Originally published on September 15, 2015.