Marketing at the Fringe
Once you're at the fringe, there are four key areas you'll want to concentrate on to maximize your marketing efforts and to improve your chances of being on the high end of your fringe ticket sales.
1) Fringe related events
1) Fringe related events
The fringe is a phenomena, not an event per say. When the fringe requests your presence at a fringe related event, say an opening night meet-and-greet or a performers show case a few days before your first show, it pays to attend. Other performers and fringe volunteers are key to the success of your show. When they talk you up, people listen.
Most fringes will let you attend other shows for free given that the show is not sold out. Ones that don't offer you a discount. If the shows aren't free, set aside a portion of your budget to see other shows.
Despite the fact that you may be exhausted during your fringe run and you'd rather retire to your hotel room or friends sofa, it pays to see as many shows as you can and to not only let the other performers know that you liked their show, but to give a shout out at the end of your show.
For instance, at the end of your show, after your bow, you might say, "Thank you! Thank you! If you want to see a really great show, make sure you check out Dennis Finklesteins Big Cobra Extravaganza in this theater tonight at 9:00. It's a really great show!" or you might say,"Thank you! Thank you! I see some other Fringe performers in the audience. I'd like to take this opportunity to allow them to tell you the name of their show!"
When you give...you get. That's the magic of gratitude.
During my first Fringe I had no idea that this was such a common ritual. In fact, I was blown away after seeing Jimmy Hogg's, "Curriculum Vitae," when he, after his sold out show, informed his audience members that he was staying to see my show directly following his. You can't pay for that kind of publicity.Take part in the Shout-out and you'll increase your ticket sales by as much as 45%.
Also, don't forget, at the end of your own show you should tell your audience when your next show will take place!
How will giving away tickets to your show help fill your venue? For one, a comp will usually bring a paying guest. Two, a comp will usually talk your show up, pending they like it, and have a much higher feeling of satisfaction about your show because they were able to come for free. Three, a comp can help spread the word into areas where you might not be able to reach.
For instance, I contact synagogues in every city I fringe in and let them now I have comps for my show available during the first few shows. I also will go into local media sources and ask the secretary to put comps with a little note in a few of the journalists mailboxes.
You need a good color postcard to advertise your show. If you want to be on the high end of fringe attendance, I would figure about 1,500 cards per fringe. For my fringe run this year, that meant I was traveling with 4,500 cards which took up a great deal of room in my suitcase - remember to factor that in. I always go with vistaprint.com, but there are a ton of on-line companies that'll do it fairly cheap.
On the back of the card should be info about the show itself: the venue name, address, dates, contact info, etc. This year I did three fringes in a row, so the back of my postcard listed this information in three columns for each fringe city where I performed.
On the front, I would recommend a decent close-up of you, like a head shot, but more revealing. You might want to go abstract or artsy, but the performers with the highest attendance rates always go with the close-up. People want to get a glimpse into your personality with the card and a decent close-up is the best way to do it.
You need to do 2 things with your cards. Visit all the venues and make sure there are small stacks of them around. Although this will account for only a small percentage of your ticket sales, it's basically free advertising. (If the fringe takes place in the theater district of a town, give postcards to nearby hotels and hotel shuttle drivers, so they can pass them to their patrons. Visitors to a city are always looking for things to do).
To get people in the seats though, you need to personally hand you postcards out to fringe goers after other fringe shows. Stand outside a show that's just let out and give them out. The bulk of them should be used in this way, after all, this is your target audience....an easy sell.
Once you find a show that is popular and consistently selling out, make sure you are outside that venue when it lets out. You can do this during times and during days when your show doesn't run and even on days when your show does run.
I recommend, handing out at least 1/2 - 3/4's of your cards during the first 2-3 days of the fringe. Get the strong buzz about your show going early on and it'll carry you through the rest of the week.