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Hello Wednesday nerds! Today we're doing A Practical Guide to Getting Butts in Seats - for when you've made a great show, and now you need to tell people about it and get them to buy tickets!
First things first - Who even ARE the people you want to come to this? Identify your audience! This will make things MUCH easier when it comes to marketing. Here's some questions to ask yourself and your team to ID your target audience:
-What's their age range?
-What other events do they go to?
-What TV shows do they watch?
-What podcasts do they listen to?
-What kind of work do they do? What kind of schedule do they have?
-Where do they live?
-What's their income level? What do they spend on?
-How much do other shows they go to cost?
-How do they find out about events they want to go to, or movements they get involved with?
-What brands or platforms are already reaching this audience?
-What social media platforms does this audience use?
When you have a good idea of who your audience is (sometimes it's even fun to make up an imaginary person who embodies these facts, makes it easier), you can create a title for your event that will hook that audience!
Some Caveat examples: Why Your Train is F*cked (a comedy show about the history of NYC's subway), Yeah She Did (awesome women telling the stories of awesome women from history who never got credit for their work), Ride or Die: Oregon Trail Live (exactly what it sounds like)
Ideally, you want your title to immediately give people some information about WHAT this show is, along with the tone of the show. For example, if you're making a goofy comedy show about chemistry, probably don't call it "Covalent Bonds: An Overview".
Make it simple - when people are browsing for events, they don't read much. A title and a short tagline is all you have to catch their attention!
Next is your copy - if people are interested enough to click on it, what are the 3-5 sentences that will tell them more about it and get their clicker going for the "buy tickets" button?
Now, the image for your event. Something bright, eye-catching and not too complicated. If you can get human faces on there, that's helpful - our brains love to look at human faces.
Once you've published your event on a ticket platform like Eventbrite (thats what we use, but there's lots of other great ones, Brown Paper Tickets is especially good for non-profit or smaller-scale events).
Now comes the real marketing work! You've gotta get that event in front of as many interested eyeballs as possible.
Email first! It's the most effective, generally.
-Ask each person involved in the show to send an email to their friends and family inviting them to the show.
-Do you have connections to any institutional support? Newsletters to staff or members that can promote the show?
-If you're planning to do the show multiple times/year, make sure you keep folk's email addresses after they buy tickets (all the ticketing platforms let you do this), so you can email them when there's another show, and build your audience organically.
Event listings:
-Your city likely has many different places where events are listed by day, week, or type of event.
-Start by asking yourself and others "where do YOU find out about events?" and submit your event to those listings
-Google "event listings {my city}", to find more
Do the same with Facebook Groups and Meetups - depending on your location, there will likely be some groups you can join for free and post events.
Keep asking yourself "how do members of my audience demographic end up at events?", ask EVERYBODY, and follow up!
Press:
-Google "special event press release" for a general template. A press release is just a one-sheet document with all the information about the show.
-Send this, along with a personalized note, to members of the press from local papers and blogs.
Try to do this 4-6 weeks before the event! It seems like a crazy amount of time in advance, but sometimes reporters need to get stories approved, and you want to make sure there's time
Check Facebook and Linkedin to see if you can get anyone to make personal introductions to someone at a media outlet. Warm intros do WONDERS.
-Reach out to journalists who have covered topics similar to the one being focused on in your show.
-Press Releases work best when there’s a holiday or special occasion attached to the event.
Old fashioned paper flyers:
-Get them made way in advance, two months is a good window
Drop flyers - be strategic. Is your show based on a 90s computer game? Drop your flyers in places that millennials and computer nerds hang out, aka trendy coffee shops and video game cafes.
-Ask permission to drop the flyers and be nice! The barista or bartender might talk up the show if you tell them about it.
-Have everyone working on the show distribute flyers! To their workplaces, coffeeshops, etc.
Ok here we go - SOCIAL MEDIA!
We'll start with FACEBOOK - Your Aunt Trish is on it but it’s still good for marketing
-Make a FB event for your show. Eventbrite and other platforms can integrate directly in, so ppl can buy tickets w/o leaving FB.
Set a goal of getting 500 invites on the event (you, your show team and others!). Do this at least 2-3 weeks before your event - FB’s algorithm will have time to show it to more people.
-Post in the event twice a week. You can schedule posts ahead of time to make this easier, also enlist your hosts. Don’t do too much more than that, or people get annoyed.
-Post the event in FB groups that align with your show mission/topic
INSTAGRAM:
-Create an account for your show and post biweekly at minimum. (Only do this if your show is going to be a series - don't bother for one-offs)
-Create insta stories for your account, tag your team so it’s easy for them to repost. Do this every other day.
-Be shameless about tagging groups in your photos who you think would be into the show. It’s how influencers get $$ and you can steal the technique to get audience!
-Use cava.com (kinda a free, simpler photoshop) to make fun images!
TWITTER: A bottomless pit of despair or the saving grace of the internet depending on who you ask- great for making people talk about your shows.
- Stalk hashtags and use them
- Find the scicomm conversations that relate to your show!
- Utilize the communities you already have
-Create fun content for your account to share - little vids, gifs, or cool photos,
-Landscape shows up better than portrait
-Don’t be afraid to tweet at someone.
-If you can get an influencer in the field/topic to post about the show, do it! Think -who do you have a connection to? Does anyone in your show team have connections?
- Do a ticket giveaway contest, or give tickets to a popular account and let them give them away!
REDDIT: It's a strange place, but it lets you find specific audiences!
-Tell people you’re the producer, Reddit HATES anything spammy-sounding
-Go on Reddit and like stuff relevant to the show so you don’t get tagged as a bot.
-Find those weird, specific subreddits!
Lastly (and best for institutions!) leverage relationships with other organizations and institutions - ask to be included on their website, newsletter, social media, etc. A good way to GUARANTEE this placement is to invite them to be part of your show!
I'll leave you with this - It's crucial that at LEAST one person on the show team, but ideally everyone, is personally EXCITED about the show, and communicates this enthusiasm. Nobody wants to see a faceless, branded show - it's all about the human element.
That's it! Marketing is a big job, and is usually vastly underestimated. In an ideal world, your show gains momentum naturally, and people tell their friends about it, and you don't have to use all these strategies! But this gives you LOTS of ways to jumpstart that.
Happy to talk about any specific questions!
OH and HUGE UPS to @HollowayKylieE for organizing all these tips into our Caveat Marketing Guide, which we share with all our shows!
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