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Cost effective ways to promote amateur theatre productions

As with all amateur theatre groups, survival is down to how well a production sells. Many groups simply stand by during the run up to the production trusting that friends and family filling the audience will be enough but this simply isn’t the case. Promotional materials are key to the success of pulling in an audience so I’m going to feature several different types of promotional materials, how you can save money on them and their pros and cons.

There are several main ways that you can promote your production with physical production promotional materials. These include:

  • Leafletting can be a great way of showing your face in the community and having conversations with potential audience members. Talking to people in busy public places like high streets and shopping centres gives you the opportunity to really sell your show and how excited you are about performing it. Enthusiasm is infectious! Why not draw up a leafletting rota for cast, crew and production team and an hour or two every weekend?
  • Poster distribution is another way to spread the word locally about your amateur theatre production.Make sure that all of the independently owned shops in your local area have been asked if they would be willing to put a poster up; especially cafes and places where people might be waiting around. Don’t forget doctors surgeries, dentists, tourist information centres and community groups. These can all be sources of new audience members.
  • Community Events are not only fun for the members that take part but are also a great way to invite new people to find out about the group and your productions. Themed quizzes and evenings are great ways to invite friends and family and are easy to put together. Just hire a local hall, a DJ/Quizmaster and get the atmosphere going. (Don’t forget to charge an entry fee to cover your costs and/or fundraise). For an extra special evening why not think outside the box and organise an unusual event like a barn dance. Most of all, don’t forget to have lots of promotional material visible on the night!
  • Larger signage is great to have up at busy traffic routes and regularly visited local landmarks (like a supermarket for example. Don’t forget  to ask the landowners permission to put up the sign but if you explain it’s for a community cause then it’s often just fine.
  • Presence at local events such as carnivals and festivals is a really great way to reach a lot of people with the marketing materials for your production. Walking signs and leaflets can often cover large areas quickly at events like these which have lots of local people at them.
  • Social media and online promotion is now an essential part of any marketing campaign, especially within the arts. Often the promotion you can get from local events listings and online groups is free and lets you reach your target audience really quickly. You can also do paid advertising on sites such as Facebook where you can specify the audience you want to attract and see measurable results from your advert campaigns.

Of course, many of the methods of advertising cost money so it’s always a good idea to measure what seems to work best for you and ask other local groups what works well for them too. There are some sources of promotional material which I have always found to be very cost effective and with good customer service to match:

  • Solopress is an online print company who offer really good customer service via phone and online chat as well as a cheap turnaround time with low cost printing. The printing is typically digital rather than ‘litho’ (for those in the know) which is what makes it so cheap but on throw-away promotional materials the difference is not noticeable to the every day person.
  • Instant Print is another online print company who also offer fast turnaround and good price for materials. They also offer a small range of outdoor signage and printing which can be useful if you can’t afford to print it with a local provider.
  • Correx Boards are traditionally used by estate agents to advertise a property is ‘for sale’ but they are also highly weatherproof and strong so good for taking leafletting and leaving outside in the wind and rain that the winter Pantomime months bring. You can print these from various retailers online as well as locally from a signage company.
  • Roller Banners are getting cheaper and cheaper every year and can be a great way to advertise your show and local events though they are only useful inside as they often get broken or blown away in an outside environment.

Getting fuller audiences is a great sign both for the publicity (and resulting ticket sales) for that show and every other that you produce. You might say every show is only as good as your last. Just make sure that everyone in the local area knows that the show is happening. That way chances are all those who are interested will attend.

If you have any questions about anything mentioned in this blog, get in touch. I’m always happy to help.

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