I market, therefore I am

One of the big takeaways I had from doing the Hamilton Fringe Festival last summer was that marketing is important. Really important.

How do you get people to go see your show when there are 30 other shows they can see? And a thousand other reasons for them NOT to see it?

And how do you reach those people?

I was putting in an average of an hour a day coming up with tweets or Facebook posts to promote our show The Lost Years. That included making sure pictures were enhanced in Photoshop, replying to comments, and scheduling posts and tweets with Hootsuite to ensure maximum impact.

The thing that struck me while I was crafting those tweets and posts was: I should have started this sooner!

Were the tweets and posts effective? I don’t know.

People came to see the show. We were at a small venue and sold out more than half of our performances. But what brought people to the show?

There were people that knew us and/or were familiar with our work. (Thank you family and friends!!) We were lucky enough to get some good reviews. I thought our poster was awesome. And there was probably some word of mouth. It was a good show.

People came for a variety of reasons. But how do you get the people you don’t know to come and see your show? What’s the best way to reach them? I really should have taken a survey on what brought people out to see our show!

But is “market research” the way to go? The danger with doing market research is that you might be tempted to tailor your work to the “market”. I don’t want to write plays that I “think” people will like. I want to write plays that I like and find an audience for it.

One of the lessons I learned from putting on my play Mommy’s Mask is that you should focus on who the audience for your show is. (As opposed to who it isn’t for, which was the big mistake I made when trying to market that play. Crazy, I know. Don’t get me started…)

I think the best marketing is a kind of conversation. Often a one-sided conversation. But it comes from an empathetic place. It’s someone saying, “I think I know what you need for “x” and it’s probably “y” which I happen to have right here… In my case, “y” would be the play that I’ve written.

To convince you that my work is what you need, I have to “understand” what you need. Hence, the empathy requirement. It’s an easier way to look at marketing, instead of feeling like a second hand car salesman trying to part you from your money, I feel like a friend trying to understand what you need and help you find the solution.

So. Let’s start a conversation…

© 2018 Peter Gruner

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