Marketing is a part of all our lives. Every day we’re bombarded with thousands of messages and ideas from the instant we wake up, turn the radio on and scroll through our social media channels to the moment our eyes shut at bedtime. So how do you begin to grab attention for your theatre, your show or event?
1. Know the work - read the play, talk to the director or producer if you can; understand as much as you can about their vision. Your job as a marketer is to translate that into a compelling story for the audience.
2. Know your audience - not just who they are but who they could be. There’s a host of tools out there including Audience Agency’s Audience Spectrum, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre’s Culture Segments or create your own audience personas.
3. Walk around in the shoes of your audience - don’t just think about all the great features of the work - the writer, the director, the actors - think about what the benefit might be for your target audience to attend.
4. Think about the experience - Tassos Stevens of Coney said “The experience of an event begins for its audience when they first hear about it and only finishes when they stop thinking about it”. It’s not just about the moment someone is sat in your theatre seat, but everything before and after - from selling tickets on your website to the service at the bar, they’re all important experience touch points.
5. Learn the art of persuasion - we operate in a crowded market place. We’re not just competing with other theatres in our neighbourhood but the restaurants and bars too, with staying at home and binging on the latest box set. You need to learn to persuade people off the sofa.
6. Remember the power of telling a good story - we’re story-tellers, whether that’s in words or images. We need to weave creative, memorable and engaging content for all the channels we use to connect with our audiences and potential audiences.
7. Look outside the arts and theatre world - there’s so much we can learn from how other brands tell their stories, so keep your eyes and ears open.
8. Take time to plan and set objectives - what do you want to achieve and how are you going to get there are key questions to think about before you even start on imagining what the show poster is going to look like, so sit down and write a plan.
9. Learn to love the numbers - data is king and will help you understand your audiences and potential audiences and help you evaluate how you’re doing. Excel is your friend.
10. Keep learning - from listening to your audiences and evaluating your campaigns to talking with your peers and looking beyond the arts, it’s vital to continually develop your knowledge. Learn from your mistakes, try new things and re-invent and re-purpose things that work. A great free tool for learning with a heap of case studies and toolkits is Culture Hive.
With a passion for theatre and sharing that with others, Sarah began her career at the Everyman and has previously worked at Manchester Royal Exchange, Blackpool Grand and Birmingham Rep. In 2002 she returned to her home city of Liverpool where she has helped rejuvenate the two theatres’ audiences and reputation, including the rebuilding of the award winning new Everyman. A guest lecturer at Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), Sarah is Course Director for UK Theatre’s Essentials of Marketing Course. She is currently on the board of the Arts Marketing Association and of Tmesis Theatre Company.