In this new series, On Stage Northants Founder and Editor, Becki Cockcroft, talks you through some ideas for marketing your productions on a shoe string.
Marketing a show when your budget is whatever change you can scrape together (after the cost of hiring a venue, costume and props) can be a nightmare. This week, though, I’d like to talk to you about the importance of good first impressions, and why you don’t need to spend a lot to make a big difference.
It’s easy to think little of design and photography these days. After all, we all have phones capable of taking good quality images, and apps at our fingertips to throw together a poster you can print off at home.
But is that the impression you want your potential audience to have of you? First impressions are key to building an audience – how would you feel about a piece of hastily printed and badly cut A6 paper being handed to you when you’re out and about? Chances are, you wont even look at it, it’ll get unceremoniously dumped in the next bin, or screwed up in the bottom of your bag. But a professionally printed, glossy A5 flyer, with an eye catching image on it? THAT you’re going to look at.
As small companies have small budgets, things like flyers quickly get thrown into the “too expensive, can’t afford” pile. But it needn’t be that way. There are loads of internet based companies who can print hundreds, if not thousands, of the flyers you need for very little cost. Say 1000 A5 flyers sets you back £30. If you manage to sell 3 tickets at £10 each off the back of that swish advertising, you’ve broken even. If you sell more, then it has been a worthwhile investment. Head over to Google and order some sample packs to see what’s out there.
In terms of design, you don’t need expensive software like Photoshop or Illustrator to put together a great looking flyer, poster, or social media graphics. My personal favourite sites are Canva and Adobe Spark – both of which are totally free. Once you get used to using these sites, it’ll be a cinch to make stunning graphics to really help sell your production.
Budget Marketing | First Impressions
Of course, to make the most of your show, you need to look at your photography.
Everyone has a camera on them 24/7 these days. And yes, while phone cameras have improved exponentially in the last few years, they still can’t compare to a “proper” camera. Not everyone can stretch to the expense of professional photography, but I can almost guarantee that someone in your group knows a keen amateur who’s got a DSLR, and an eye for an image. I’m not saying go out there and find someone to do it for free – as creatives we all know the pain of being offered “exposure” as a form of payment – but perhaps you could find a student working on a portfolio who would do it for low cost? Or a keen hobbyist who’d love to have a few free tickets to the show.
Creating theatre is a collaborative event. There are so many people out there whose skills you could utilise, and not enough of us are making the most of that. So ask around. There will be someone out there you can work with for mutual benefit!
My first goals as Marketing Manager for Duston Players have been to overhaul the group’s presentation – our next show will have professionally printed flyers and posters, I’ve gutted the website and made leaps in terms of social media… but more on that next time!
Becki is a Mum of 1 and theatre lover originally from Birmingham. She’s a photographer and Mum Blogger and you can find her rambling on Twitter here: @beckicockcroft. As well as being the Founder and Managing Editor for On Stage Northants, she is also the Marketing Manager for Duston Players