Because screaming "PLEASE BUY A TICKET" hasn't worked well the last 10 times
By Joanna Syiek (Director/Producer/Blogger)
In a town sporting an oversaturated theatre market, plenty of good shows will be vying for your attention. But what makes you choose one over another on a free Saturday night? Here are a few hints as to how to get butts in seats.
1. Tell us why it's different. If you're doing a production of a show that's been out for 50 years, tell us why this iteration is unmissable. I'm not saying you have to do 'Shakespeare in Space!" but find the gems in your production, polish them up and put them on display for all to see.
2. Put thought into how you want to promote your show. Maybe you choose an internet blitz, maybe physical cards and flyers, maybe you opt for entirely word-of-mouth, but choose a method that accurately reflects the show. I cannot tell you how many promotional materials I've seen lately featuring clip-art from MS Word. You do not need to be a graphic designer to know that you can offer better than that. Even if you do not have a program like Photoshop, hop onto one of the many fantastic free photo editing online sites (picmonkey.com is a great option for even the biggest technophobe) and choose colors, themes, and typography that ties in with your show. Very often, creatively-packaging your show is just as important as the show itself.
3. Find those that will vouch for you. Studies indicate that we are more likely to see a movie if we see a friend or acquantaince raves about the film. This applies to your event as well. Make the rehearsal/preparation/pre-show process so engaging that those involved cannot help but to tell others what they are working on and how exciting the prep has been. Once the show is up and running, gather testimonials. And they need not all be serious. For example, if someone says "If Godzilla and Jesus had a love child and taught it to play an electric guitar, that would be this show," I would knock people over on the street racing to see it.
4. Practice your "elevator pitch". If someone asks what your show is about, you should be able to describe it in two action-packed sentences or less. Try out a few versions and see which one gets the most response. Ryan recently did a fantastic job of effectively describing his show in a concise, fun, and relatable way. Using known commodities to describe an unknown show (ex. "this show is like Follies meets Sanford and Son plus belting") can also be very helpful when talking up your show to help give a potential audience member a taste for what to expect.
5. Do good work. At the end of the day, the show itself should also be a testament to the fact that you cared enough about the production to put your time into it. Don't get lazy at the end and put out a mediocre product. Effort, passion and a keen eye for detail will get you far.
JOANNA SYIEK is a Los Angeles-based music junkie with a penchant for long road trips, original theatre work, clean graphic design, and really good Indian food. She directs around the City of Angels and writes about nourishing creativity, Broadway favorites, and talent obsessions over on her blogging home. www.thoughtsontheatre.wordpress.com
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