The internet is a very effective marketing tool, but you have to make sure to utilize it properly to get the best response. By creating an appealing website that attracts both fans and possible attendees you will see a large increase in the viewers at your productions. With these 4 basic steps to promoting your theater online you will be on your way to a much bigger audience and satisfied cast.
- Find theater bloggers and other promoters in your area. Offer them free tickets to productions to get them in the theater and reviewing the performances online. When they write reviews, create a link to their blogs so other people can see from an outside source how great your theater is.
- As soon as you get a list of bloggers in your area, start commenting on their blogs. Even if they are not writing about your theater, this will help you get your name out there. Always provide a link with each comment that leads readers back to your website. But remember, no one likes to hear unproductive information, so make sure your comments are useful.
- Sell merchandise on your website! This is a great way to let the fans of performances promote the theater for you. Creating t-shirts and other merchandise is one of the most profitable ways to market your theater.
- Link your theater’s home page to its MySpace page (or other networking page) and vice versa. This cross promotion will allow an easy flow of traffic between all sites and allows viewers to quickly find more information. Mention your website in your blogs and press releases.
- Market your website off-line too! Have your website listed on programs at performances, playbills, and announce it at shows during the curtain speech. Tell the audience what you have to offer (discounts, merchandise, behind the scenes action) and they will want to check it out.
II. Show Character!
- Literally, make a section for the characters in upcoming events! This allows fans a smidgen of information leading up to the show, sort of like a preview to a movie.
- Also, have a segment explicitly for the performers. This should be a biography including age, where they’re from, and their ideal roll. Even ask some bizarre questions, like “If you had to be any flavor of ice cream, what one would it be”. This allows them to show their personality and can make for some good laughs.
- The best way to provide an inside look on current and upcoming performers is to take pictures and videos of everything! Post all intriguing material on the website. Include rehearsals and cast parties along with the actual performances. This lets fans get the inside scoop of what theater is really like. Creating this bond between the performer and the viewer will make the audience feel more connected to the show, and will keep them coming back for future performances.
- Be creative! Make the website entertaining and interactive. The Altar Boyz have a website which includes a specialized video game along with an “Audience Confessions” section where fans can post any statement onto the site. Some other ideas may be individualized quizzes, blogs, and audio clips (especially if you are promoting a musical).
III. Create a Community
- To make it easy for fans to know about the updates on your website, have them sign up for email newsletters or an RSS feed. These will inform the subscriber of any new content that was added to the site, so they don’t have to manually check back for updates. The subscription or sign-up process should be as easy as possible, making it only one or two clicks away!
- Creating a chat room or forum page on your site is a must. Forums allow fans to have a common place to discuss various theater productions. Be sure to have these pages focused around the audience rather than the theater itself. This will make the fans come back regularly. To get some conversations going, add an “After Performance Thoughts” forum. This way, audience members who have just seen the show can tell others their thoughts and recommend it to others. A good forum will promote itself and in turn, promote the theater.
- Let fans become part of the theater community. Make it a club, where they can receive emails, newsletters, discounts on tickets, and special deals just for being members. Allow people to enter to win prizes (maybe an autograph from their favorite performer, or free tickets). Remember to make the sign-up process as simple as possible.
- Allow people to buy tickets from your site, or at least reserve tickets. This makes the buying processes easier for the viewers, and increases the traffic to your site. It also can allow you to get email addresses that you can utilize for your email newsletters.
- Let people contact you! Set up an email address solely for the theater in highly visible areas on your website. List the address in so that people can read but it spamming software cannot, such as theater(at)website(dot)com. Make sure to respond to any inquiries in a timely manner.
- Record traffic, discussions, and sales on your site. This will help gauge what performances were most appealing to customers and can give you ideas for future shows, blog discussions and promotions.
With these four tips and tricks for online promotion, your theater should be showing at full capacity in no time. For more ideas and expanding thoughts of these basic steps, visit other theater sites to see how they put them into action.