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Let’s get into marketing – the many ways in which you can ensure people know your brand, see your content, and engage with your work. Like many theaters, you may be stretched thin when it comes to time and/or a marketing budget, but for all the teachers out there, why not utilize the best part of your theatre: your students! Yes, engaging them by creating a student marketing team creates a win-win-win scenario for all involved. Not sure where to start? On The Stage can help.
Getting your students involved in marketing will reap a variety of benefits for you, them, and your program at large. These include:
No Budget Strain: Tapping students to do your theatre marking puts less stress on your bottom line for a couple of reasons. The first is that you save money hiring a marketing specialist to come in and promote your theatre and work. Secondly, you’re increasing your own bandwidth to focus on your art, or to focus on new fundraiser ideas. Students can brainstorm in their free time or in your classes, making them feel integral and necessary to your program.
A Larger Audience: Many of your students are likely friends with others outside your theatre bubble – whether that’s through sports teams, art classes, social clubs, or leadership positions at school. Utilizing students in your marketing efforts means your advertising materials (and thus, your shows) will reach more eyes.
Youth Knowledge: Let’s be honest – we’re no longer the youngest people in the room. Letting students take the reins on your marketing efforts means tapping into a broader knowledge of current trends, the ever evolving (and very confusing) slew of social media apps, and the proper online terminology to ensure you’re not, shall we say, being “cringe.”
Personal Touch: No one knows how to market your theatre program better than those who love it. Bypassing an outsider’s marketing strategies and getting to the heart of your program will make your content seem more genuine, exciting, and authentic to outsiders.
Organic Marketing: One thing about kids? They love to talk! If you engage your students in marketing efforts, they’ll naturally advertise your work for you on social media and in one-on-one conversations. And sometimes, the best marketing is word of mouth.
Increased Engagement with Students: The last thing you want in a theatre program is students who feel underutilized or burnt out. Getting them involved in projects outside the classroom or the stage will increase excitement and buzz for your program, and keep students happy, healthy, and energized for the work to come.
Preparing Students for Future Careers: This one’s a little bit less about the theatre, sure, but students gaining hands-on experience in the realm of marketing before they graduate will result in major benefits for them down the line. This also offers opportunities to partner with other teachers and collaborate on the marketing or business curriculum if one exists at your school.
Once you’ve gotten your student team assembled, here are a variety of ways they can boost attendance at your shows, and participation in your programs all-around.
Hitting New Corners of Your School: Talk with your student marketing team about the extracurriculars they’re involved in, the classes they’re taking, and the friends they have outside the program. How can they tap into these groups? Not only can this increase interest within your school for your program, but these outside students could potentially be a big help before, during, and after shows! (Think – art students painting backdrops or helping with costumes, the football team working crew to haul the major set pieces, or journalists with the school newspaper covering your show.)
Naturally Advertising Your Work: As we mentioned before, word of mouth marketing is often the most effective when it comes to school ecosystems. Encourage your student marketing team to talk up your program and your shows around school. It will feel genuine coming from students as opposed to administration.
Taking Over Social Media Accounts: If you don’t have one already, consider opening social media accounts specifically for your theater program. If you already have accounts, turn them over to your student marketing team (with some ground rules, of course). That generation has spent the majority – if not all – of their lives on the internet, so their tech-savvy ways will come in handy. Encourage them to get creative, hop on trends, post behind-the-scenes content, run polls, and generally engage both your school and the community at large.
Running Giveaways: We’ve said it once, we’d said it a million times – people love free stuff! Work with your student marketing team to drum up giveaways for your school, your social media followers, or your community. For giveaways, consider merchandise promoting your show, tickets to an upcoming showcase, or other items related to your program that will help you in the long run. Not sure what prizes to give out? Community partners will come in handy here. (We can help you foster those partnerships too!)
Hosting Contests: Have your student marketing team brainstorm contest ideas in their free time, or in your classes. Consider offering low-stakes walk-on rolls through contests, or running ticket sales competitions with the other theatre students. The end result will be more eyes on your work and more enthusiasm from your kids.
Leading Fundraising Efforts: Bake sales, car washes, booths at local events, the options are endless for student-run fundraisers. By letting your students take the reins, you’re prepping them for the “real world” … and getting more time to work on your show.
Now that you’ve been armed with some ideas on how to get your student marketing team off the ground, we’ll send you away with three cheers to the fall season!