Marketing Theatre and the Arts

It’s show time

Vast resources have been lavished on research, audience development and pseudo-cultural studies into the habits and desires of audiences yet UK theatres are still notoriously reliant on a handful of reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to put bums on seats. And, despite constant attempts to broaden the audience profile, at least one quarter of families have never visited a theatre, with figures even worse for attendance at classical music concerts or visits to art galleries. Your dedicated marketer sees the flip side of all the – that an impressive majority of the public are just waiting to be encouraged into making their next visit.

Top ten must-do’s for marketing theatres:

• Identify your mission – understand why your venue exists and for whom
• Develop an agreed brand identity and set measurable strategic objectives
• Demand senior marketing input into all theatre and arts planning and programming
• Identify your core audiences and determine what they want from your venue
• Agree a marketing budget and stick to it
• Produce and deliver a timed costed and measurable annual marketing plan
• Develop a loyalty scheme as part of a broader marketing and fundraising strategy
• Analyse purchasing patterns to optimise timing of communications to customers
• Commit to collaborative marketing and ticketing with other local and regional venues

Ten great tips for promoting theatre and the arts:

• Select your best available image for each production and use repeatedly to maximise impact and recall
• Offer mini-previews of forthcoming shows or exhibitions in high footfall local shopping centres
• Limit email newsletters to no more than 3-4 bullet points linked to further online content
• Prepare dedicated content and virtual ticketing for mobile devices and smart phones
• Enable online availability, instant booking and introduce dynamic airline-style ticketing for popular shows
• Immediately drop in to your marketing materials and site posters your best post-opening press and customer quotes
• Stimulate feedback via social media networks and do not censor entries (unless defamatory)
• Do not respond publicly to negative reviews except to challenge technical inaccuracies
• Encourage a post-show buzz keeping the bar/cafe areas open after a performance
• Ensure you and your staff provide an upbeat and friendly exit from the theatre or venue