Promote Your Shows
Promote Your Show On A Shoestring
Putting up a show is a lot of hard work — and requires money. Once the costumes, lights and stage have been paid for, people often forget about the promotional aspect of the production and simply don’t know how to market on a shoestring budget.
There are A TON of ways to promote your production. You cannot do all of them, but use this list as a reference and to get your creative juices flowing. And many of these ideas depend on TEAMWORK. Make sure that your ENTIRE cast and crew participates.
Here are some ways you can advertise your next project with little to no money:
There is no better and FREE advertising than to be awesome. If your theater company is known for outstanding shows, it will attract audience from the community, not just friends and family of cast members. Of course this is not going to happen automatically, but is going to require a lot of hard work. But we love it, so it will be fun.
Cost: Your blood, sweat and tears.
Word of Mouth
Several studies have shown that more than anything else, audiences show up because they have heard about the show. So before starting out with any other form of promotion, make sure that each cast and crew member talks to everybody, all the time, everywhere about how great this show is and that everybody should come see it. Get them talking about your show.
YES, that is plural. A well written press release to local TV, Radio, Newspapers, Websites, Bloggers is highly effective. There are various on-line resources to help you create an effective press release. Don't forget to send them to Real Estate Companies, your community center, neighboring schools, senior citizen facilities, Chamber of Commerce.
Fliers and/or Posters
This may seem obvious, but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of a flier or poster with a great photo to promote a show. Plaster your town or city with them, and let their magic go to work. Look on this website for Promo Materials.
Cost: Roughly 10 cents a page for copies at Staples.
Postcards and/or business cards
Postcards and business cards are great for many reasons. First, you can mail postcards to important people you’d like in your audience. Second, you can put stacks of them in shops and cafes near the theatre to draw in audience members you don’t know. Don't underestimate the power of a mailed postcard. Many of your potential audience members do not use Email, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or any other electronic means to communicate.
Cost: Gotprint.com offers 500 postcards for under $25.
Have small stickers made up with your show’s logo, dates and links, and ask a local coffee shop whether it would be willing to stick them on their lids in exchange for a free ad in your show’s program. Each time patrons sip from their coffee cup, they’ll be face-to-face with your show’s cute and effective ad.
Cost: On Vistaprint.com, stickers are roughly 12 cents apiece. You can get 240 stickers for under $30.
Podcast/Newspaper/Radioshow/TV Interviews and Reviews
Find a local podcast that’s about the arts or the happenings in your town, and ask them to do a segment on your show in exchange for comps to the show.
Cost: The price of a couple tickets.
Using a local gathering place, organize a flashmob and perform a big song from the show, then hand-out business cards or postcards to the audience. Make sure you get permission from the location. Plazas, malls, train stations, town squares, farmers market are all good venues. The key is lots of people. And permission. Maybe they'll let you use their sound system...
The good news is, you can choose how much money you’ll put into an ad on social media, so you can spend a little or a lot depending on your budget.
Cost: Not free, but can be highly targeted.
Does someone you know blog about theatre or local events in your area? Get them to blog about the show by inviting them to a dress rehearsal.
Even if you don’t personally have a lot of followers, you’ll cover a lot of ground if you get everyone in your cast and crew to post about the show on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Remember to post pictures that will stir intrigue or make people laugh.
Post about your show on Twitter and turn it into a contest by asking people to retweet. One lucky RT will win a pair of tickets to the show. If you can swing it, throw in some swag, too! Who doesn’t love a free T-shirt?
A Bigger Cast
OK, so this isn’t always feasible, but the bigger the cast you have, the more people will be in your audience. That’s why sometimes it’s beneficial to have a Cast A and a Cast B for longer-running shows — not to mention understudies.
Guest Roles/Walk-on Role
Is there a part in your show that can be done by a special guest audience member? Give away a small part through social media contests or audience raffles to raise money for the theatre. You’ll get more buzz from patrons who come to see their friend play the butler in one random scene.
Use sites such as Wix.com to create a free website just for the show with all your show’s information. Include fun details about the cast and production process. You can also use the site to promote all your fun contests and ticket giveaways.
Cost: Free – $20
Have your cast volunteer to do some community work while getting the word out about your theatre and its production. One great way to do this is to offer a free acting class to kids in the area taught by members of the cast or the director. It always feels good to give back to the community — and adding some butts in the seats doesn’t feel bad, either.