Below I list 5 ways fringes can take responsibility and boost their contacts into cash, turning the audience members in their seats into long time fringe fans.
1) At first year fringes, audience members tend to see their friends shows exclusively. They aren’t yet educated enough to know that other shows are going on. When fringe performers hand these types of audience members their postcards, advertising their own show, it’s like handing someone a strange reptile with a virus.
REMEDY: It’s a fringes responsibility to educate the audience before each show with a little Fringe 101 talk. This should also be reprinted in a fringe program. See my entry "Fringe 101" on what to include and what not to include.
2) In all the cities that get high reviews from fringe performers there is a sense of community. People like to belong to something. In these cities, fringe goers aren’t just fans, they tend to be fringe fanatics. How can you turn a ticket buyer into a fringe fanatic?
REMEDY: Create a way for fringe goers to participate.
~ Get acquainted with
~ Get acquainted with the San Fran Fringe’s on-line audience review system. Updated constantly, audience members can read about how fringe go-ers felt about different shows. It makes audience members feel involved. These aren't ego stroking reviews, these are down and dirty hoest reviews meant to help fringers get the most bang for their buck.
3) About ten years ago the post office started doing what Mc Donalds had been doing for years. Selling the add-on. Their “Do you want fries with that?” became “Would you like stamps, delivery confirmation, etc, etc. etc.?” Add-ons can increase business by nearly 25% - even more if you’re working with a specific demographic.
REMEDY: Although it shouldn’t be this way, cross pollination at the fringe is done completely by accident. A performer will announce at the end of his/her show other shows going on in the fringe. It’s called a “Shout Out!” If event organizers were smarter they’d push shout outs more (when appropriate with the show itself). It’s a great advertisement for more ticket sales. It's a guarantee that ticket sales will rise in one fringe season.
4) The Boulder Fringe has a killer nightly event that features fringe performers, a host and a very entertaining show.
REMEDY: At the very least a fringe should provide a free showcase for local performers a month before the event and another one for out of town performers right before the event. This can work wonders in spreading the fringe word to potential ticket buyers. Want to bump it up a notch? Then do the nightly thing.
5) The fringe itself is a golden product. A product with a lot of potential as far as bringing in revenue. The increase in fringes in the past three years shows that communities are hungry for the fringe. (To give you an example, The National Storytelling Conference now runs a fringe and they don’t even have a clue of what a fringe is) Yet, for most fringes, that product can be very incestuous. Usually run by artists rather than business people, most of these artists don’t realize that there are boundless opportunities for education and marketing that just don’t begin and end when the fringe begins and ends. As a result that golden product collects a lot of dust
REMEDY: Smart fringe organizers would do well to get emotional support and creative brainstorming ideas from their artist friends and leave the business to the experts. Go on Facbook and find some of your old pals that majored in business, bring ‘em onto your team. The Capital Fringe has done a great job at working outside the box, doing things like running artist business workshops throughout the year. Things like this ultimately help in spreading your fringe word and turn fringe fans into fringe fanatics.