Rehearsal Report: Marketing Your Show (and Yourself)
Zach Kaufer discusses the importance of knowing your target audience.
Last night, after rehearsal, I opened my Gmail inbox to find a JPEG of the Speech and Debate poster. All of a sudden, there's the advertisement right in front of my face. How is it possible that we've already been rehearsing long enough that we would have a show to advertise? When did this all happen? Well, that's a little off-topic and a discussion for a far lengthier post. Now my job, in addition to creating the show in rehearsal, becomes about getting butts in the seats to see the work we've been doing. Oh jeez...
I'll start by saying that I would be wonderfully happy if we were in a rehearsal hall and then, come opening, there were people lined up to see the show. Isn't there a way for people to just... know? Why do we have to publicize things?
Unfortunately, that's not how things work and, as a director, marketing is something that needs to be at the forefront of my consciousness at all times. How are we selling our "product"? For all intents and purposes, it's almost like backwards capitalism. Instead of seeing a need in the market for a new service or product and then inventing something to fill the void, we've created something from nothing and now we need to figure out how to interest an audience in what we've spent our time working on. In terms of marketing my shows, there's one key element that I keep in mind when "marketing" a show (I say "marketing" because I am in no way, shape, or form a business-minded person and I am flying by the seat of my pants here):
Target Audience. Who is your target audience? Who would be interested in seeing your production and which group would get the most out of it? With Speech and Debate, I've considered the target audience as theater majors (for obvious reasons), communication majors (because of the emphasis on social media and the online world), and the LGBTQ community (the play directly deals with issues of sexuality and sexual identity).
With these specific groups targeted, I can begin to create the lens through which we can pitch the event to different audiences. Find innovative ways of engaging your target audience. Maybe you have a talk-back after the performance with a professor from the Annenberg School for Communication about the influence of social media on teenage development. Find ways to engage beyond the performance and you will create networks who will come back to see your work again.