82 More Ways

Don't get overwhelmed. But here are 82(!) more ideas for marketing your theatre productions to get your creative ideas flowing. Some of them might not work for your venue (like drinks and popcorn in the theater).

  1. patronize other theatres regularly to see which of their shows are selling well – then look at how they marketed those

  2. most links to online ticket sales are unwieldy and ugly, create a redirect using a link shortening service like Bit.ly – or better yet have yourdomain.com/tickets redirect to your online ticket sales service

  3. leave (appropriate) comments on the online articles of your local arts journalists so they get to know who you are in a context where you’re not asking them for anything

  4. host/sponsor a playwright festival

  5. offer a complimentary popcorn or soda on the night you know is going to have the weakest attendance

  6. offer an early bird discount for the first 100 tickets purchased when your tickets go on sale

  7. partner with an organization that accepts donations of food, clothes, or toys and have a night where people get free admission with their donation (use photos, videos, and press releases from this event to drive sales for all your other performances)

  8. strap a GoPro camera to an actor during rehearsal for an intricate dance, fight, or flying scene and share on social media

  9. create a video showing publicity or production stills with the actors doing voice over of their best lines

  10. put a sandwich board out on the sidewalk with rotating taglines that say things like, “free cupholder with every seat” (assuming, of course, your seats have cup holders)

  11. send an email or postcard to everyone who came to see one of your previous, similar shows and tell them why if they liked that one, they’re going to love what you have coming up next

  12. create a magazine ad – even if you never run it – because it will help you get clear on how to quickly, concisely convey your marketing message

  13. have a night where your subscribers or best patrons can bring a friend for free and give them the royal treatment so they look like rock stars in front of their friends

  14. hold a press junket with all the other local theatres where the press and arts bloggers can come get the scoop on all the upcoming shows at once

  15. create a Foursquare special for a free drink and advertise it to your regulars

  16. write down what you would do if you had an extra $10k to spend on marketing, once that’s done – and only after it’s done – look at how you can do a leaner version of those tactics with your current budget

  17. specialty printers online will create professional style trading cards for little league baseball teams – use these services to instead print trading cards of your cast

  18. work with a nearby restaurant to create a special that’s themed after the show and cross promote for each other

  19. send an invite to social influencers and bloggers to have lunch with the director and talk about the show

  20. write a letter to the editor of the local paper about why an issue that your show deals with matters to your community

  21. create a ticket package with another theatre or arts organization where someone can buy tickets to an event at both places at a discount

  22. call repeat visitors just to thank them for their patronage, and if the opportunity presents itself ask them what they’d like to see you do more of

  23. offer free seat upgrades to regular patrons when available

  24. create a short podcast series talking to cast members and the production team about the show

  25. hold an open Google Hangout where the general public can meet the leads and ask them questions

  26. instead of (or in addition to) postcards and flyers, print business cards to promote your show

  27. print custom decks of cards with your show’s art on the back and distribute to influencers

  28. take out a classified ad: audience wanted

  29. posters are great for store windows, but in residential areas create yard signs like the ones used in local political campaigns (at least, they are here in the U.S.)

  30. do a 1-3 minute preview of your show right before the performances of whatever show is being produced at your venue right before you – just like a movie trailer

  31. get a custom domain name for your show (i.e. www.nameofshow.com)

  32. keep a production blog going for your show in the weeks leading up to opening

  33. create a custom audience in Facebook based on your email list and run highly targeted ads to a lookalike audience

  34. take your local arts journalist to lunch when you don’t have a show in production just to get to know him/her

  35. create a media contact list of all the writers, radio producers, bloggers, and social media aficionados who talk about theatre in your market

  36. assemble a digital media kit with show art, contact information, publicity stills, pre-packaged quotes, the press releases, and anything else you think someone covering the show would need

  37. offer tickets to the show to other local arts groups along with an explicit personal invitation to come see the show

  38. create video postcards from the cast thanking donors and VIPs

  39. record a video tour backstage showing how any dramatic scene changes, costume changes, or other technical elements of the show are pulled off

  40. create a short exit survey you can email to audience members the day after they come to the show

  41. grab a video camera and ask people in the lobby during intermission or right after the show what they like about it

  42. prepare a 2-minute excerpt of the show (heavy on movement, not just talking) that you could pitch to local television shows

  43. prepare talking points about your production and submit those to local radio show producers

  44. pick a hashtag for your production and make sure the cast, production team, and everyone involved knows to use that hashtag when they post on social media to build momentum

  45. if there’s a technical element of the show that you could add with a little extra money (like a rotating stage or more advanced flight rigging) create a Kickstarter campaign to fund that specific addon and use the campaign as a promotional tool

  46. start a local Meetup group that acts as a book club for plays (make sure you give some love to other theatres around town, not just yours)

  47. take your production team to the park, turn off all your phones, and spend 30 minutes talking about what makes this show cool

  48. create a mastermind group to share marketing ideas with other similarly-sized theatres in faraway cities

  49. join Toastmasters and become amazing at talking in front of people

  50. if one of your performance dates falls on the birthday of a regular patron, offer them complimentary tickets for that date

  51. create a door prize related to your show and present it during the curtain speech

  52. if you have a cool poster, publicity still, or some other marketing piece that you’re particularly proud of, create a behind-the-scenes video of how it was created

  53. have some or all of your cast make public appearances in a basketball tournament, quiz show, open mic night, or anywhere they have a chance to introduce themselves and show off their skills

  54. send a secret shopper to your box office to ask questions about your show and the venue

  55. set up Google Alerts with the name of your show, the theatre, and your leads to monitor any new online buzz about them you might want to piggyback on

  56. create a video contest where people can submit a YouTube video talking about the show

  57. use social media to plug all of the live theatre going on this weekend, and be specific about who would really like each show (i.e. if you love over-the-top slapstick comedy don’t miss… )

  58. take pictures or video of the first table read when you get everyone together in the same room – who knows when you might use those on social media or as part of a larger marketing collateral piece

  59. buy a domain to redirect to your best marketing piece (i.e. if I have a great promo video about a production of Hamlet here in Indy, I might buy the domain indyhamlet.com that points directly to the video and use that in all my marketing)

  60. send text messages to SMS subscribers with immediate, short-term specials

  61. selectively invite some folks to be a focus group for your show – which is a lot like a preview, but you’ll get feedback and if you end up taking the feedback, those people feel a small sense of affiliate with your production

  62. give people a free drink when they tweet a picture of themselves from the lobby during the show

  63. set up an affiliate program for ticket sales where people earn a commission for bringing you paying customers

  64. take the marketing director of another theatre out to lunch and ask what made last year’s best attended show so successful

  65. have an honorary press campaign where you invite a handful of people with no press affiliation to receive the media kit, receive comps, and have access to ask you questions about the show on the condition that they take a stab at writing a review (which you will then take care of promoting)

  66. during your curtain speech, invite patrons to post an update about seeing the show (perhaps with your custom hashtag) before silencing their devices

  67. write the ideal review that you’d like to see in the paper the day after opening, then work backward to figure out what needs to happen to get the right person to write that review

  68. keep a “morgue file” of great marketing ideas that for whatever reason didn’t work out this time that you can quickly refer back to for future productions

  69. create a marketing budget – you don’t have to spend it all, but know what you could spend if you had enough brilliant marketing ideas

  70. offer some tickets to local organizations that do raffles or charity auctions

  71. provide an optional gift-wrapping service for your tickets at no charge so that if someone wants to purchase them as a gift you provide them in an attractive display that is immediately ready to hand to the recipient

  72. find a mentor that does professional marketing in something other than the arts

  73. record your director talking about the strength of each of your leads and then edit together a video with the director’s words over b-roll of rehearsal

  74. pick up the latest issue of a magazine that appeals to your target audience and flip through the ads, looking for a image, message, or concept you can use in your own marketing

  75. call a local business with a fair amount of employees and speak to the HR department, then invite them to buy a block of tickets for employees or VIP clients at a group discount

  76. hide free tickets or other cool swag at local retail locations and restaurants (with their approval) and provide clues over social media to help your most adventurous patrons track them down

  77. put a fish bowl in the lobby for business cards, and choose one randomly each month or production to get free tickets, a subscription, or an upgrade – then put the contacts from all the business cards on your mailing list

  78. pick a paid tactic you were considering using and scrap it – use that money instead to get the best photographer you can afford

  79. invite your social media followers to create captions for funny/shocking rehearsal photos

  80. segment previous customers who have bought more than 4 tickets at once, and send them an invitation to use a special group rate

  81. have a performers night on your slowest day of the week where local performers can bring in a recent program of a show they’ve been in for a discounted ticket

  82. do a Google image search for posters people have used in other productions of your show for crazy, random inspiration

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Lake Washington High School Performing Art Center,
12033 NE 80th Street, Kirkland, WA 98033.   (425) 936-1700

Ms. Morgan Heetbrink, Drama Adviser/Drama Educator, mheetbrink@lwsd.org          Mr. Mark Staiff, Tech Director/Theater Manager, mstaiff@lwsd.org

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