A great marketing strategy can take your theatre program from good to great or great to downright spectacular. But sometimes, with a small budget and little bandwidth within your team, marketing efforts can seem overwhelming for community theatre leaders. If you’re feeling a bit lost on where to start your marketing journey, or if you just want some additional ideas, On The Stage offers a handful of insider tips.

Theatre Marketing 101

So we’ve establishing that great marketing is integral to a successful theatre – but why? Marketing helps theatres achieve the following objectives: 

  • Expanding reach and audience: Steady marketing efforts mean your theatre and its work will be seen by more people over time. A larger audience opens the doors to more funding and better opportunities down the line.
  • Creating space for partnerships: When marketing efforts reach your community, you have the potential to be spotted by businesses, or like-minded creatives who believe in your vision. Partnering up with these people and companies reap major rewards. 
  • Building a strong brand identity: Securing a well-known brand identity is crucial to the success of any business, and consistent marketing strategies help cement this identity. 
  • Creating and fostering relationships with clients: When done organically, marketing efforts target your ideal demographic and plant a seed of loyalty when these patrons connect with your content. From there, maintaining that loyalty can also be achieved through strategic, curated campaigns. 
  • Boosting sales: Like a domino effect, marketing attracts more people while engaging your established audience. With that extra engagement comes more ticket and merchandising sales to keep you on the path to success. 
  • Maintaining relevance: If one thing’s certain, it’s that people lose interest in things quicker and quicker these days. A consistent marketing strategy keeps your audience members engaged and excited about what’s next. 

Insider Theatre Marketing Tips

Now that we’ve covered the many ways marketing can help you achieve your goals, here are a few insider tips to deploy. 

  1. Utilize the power of social media
    A no brainer? Maybe, but social media is the best tool you can utilize when it comes to marketing. If you’re green to the social media sector, start by creating an engaging handle with graphics that will interest your target demographic. Don’t forget to follow relevant community leaders, theatres, and other creatives as you get started. If you’re a veteran of social media, harness the power of your followers by engaging them through polls and questions. Post behind-the-scenes content that will leave your followers excited for more while simultaneously establishing a strong brand identity.
  2. Partner up
    You can’t discount the power of community partners, influencers, and strong relationships with press outlines when it comes to marketing. Scout out potential partners by doing research on social media. Which businesses in your community are passionate about supporting the arts, and how can you approach them? Are there any influencers in your area that specialize in performance or theatre? What local magazines, press outlets, and news stations are open to submissions? Find the right contacts and form strong working relationships to ensure your works are covered by partners in the community. 
  3. Invest in merchandising
    We’d said it a million times – merchandise is a free walking billboard! Whether you’re creating hats, show shirts, socks, and bags with your theatre’s name on it, or are plastering posters of your newest show around town, make sure your merchandising game is strong. This is an ideal way to raise capital while also marketing your theatre with little overhead. 
  4. Offer previews or teasers
    Think of your favorite movie trailers – they always leave you wanting more, right? Harness that same concept when it comes to previews and teasers of your work. Whether you’re posting behind-the-scenes content on your social media, streaming short scenes on your Youtube page before a show, or hosting previews for loyal patrons, it’s always good to provide your audience with an appetizer of the showcase to come. 
  5. Get creative with ticketing
    Ticket sales can often be the life blood of theatres – so make sure you’re nurturing that component of your company. Host ticket sales contests with your actors and crew to keep spirits high and motivations up. Offer tiered pricing to ensure your theatre stays accessible to people in your community. Present early bird specials and discounts to loyal patrons to reward them for their consistency. 
  6. Deploy strategic email communications
    Like many, you’ve probably gotten annoyed at a company for spamming your inbox with emails every day, leading you to unsubscribe. Instead of sending an avalanche of marketing emails to your patrons, focus on tailoring your email content to relevant times – like when you’re announcing your season; hosting an event; advertising a new show; or running a sale. This will ensure you retain subscribers while keeping their interest.
  7. Keep an eye on your competitors
    As theatremakers, we’re all in this together – but that doesn’t mean you can’t observe other community theatres and similar business models to see what’s working. Take a look at the showcases that sold out, the events that have been hits and what made them so, and the way they curate their marketing presences. 
  8. Look at the data
    Theatremakers need strong data analysis for a variety of reasons, but honing in on the perfect marketing strategy is a top reason. Studying data about your audience, their preferences, and their demographics means tailoring a marketing strategy that will reach the most people and in more meaningful ways. 

On The Stage can help strategize on the ideal marketing campaign, and offers a variety of resources and tools to help you reach your goals. Schedule a personalized demo today to get started.