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JSUCamel
06-05-2009, 11:26 AM
I mentioned in another thread about the real estate market and how my boss at my freelance job works closely with a bunch of real estate CEOs and such. One of the things that we're doing with his company is trying to position ourselves as the leading edge of marketing consultants in the real estate industry in Chicago.

In addition, marketing and advertising is a conundrum that plagues the theatre industry as well -- namely, how do you advertise and market your theatre when you don't have any money?

As a result of these situations, there has been a lot of discussion among us theatre types in recent weeks regarding marketing best practices. It's pretty clear that the old ways of marketing are slowly losing effectiveness. It's no longer good enough to just throw your brand name out there over and over and expect people to buy your product or purchase your services.

To make things worse, we've got this new "social media" advertising and marketing strategy. Many, many companies are jumping on the bandwagon and giving "social media marketing" seminars and "tips" and "tricks" about how to use social media. I put the quotes around them because, by and large, they're all bullshit.

For instance, many people (including most of you) don't "get" Twitter. You've heard over and over that Twitter is a great marketing tool, but gosh darnit, what the hell is it FOR? How do you USE it?

These social media seminars keep focusing on using social media as a marketing strategy. "Use Twitter to promote your product and you'll sell more!" "Use Myspace to promote your band's music and you'll get a record deal!" "Use Facebook to sell your services as a plumber, and you'll get more toilets than you can shake a plunger at!"

But they're wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

The entire point of social media is to be -- wait for it -- social!

To put it another way: what's the best advertisement? I'll give you a hint: it's not Google ads or even a newspaper ad or commercial spot during the Super Bowl. What is it?

Give up?

Word of mouth.

Now imagine if every time you talked to a friend, all she talks about is how great her Avon products were and how you should buy them, and when you go out to eat and you mention that her skin looks really clear, she gets excited and pulls out an entire line of Avon products from her purse and tries to sell them to you.

How would you feel about that person? Short answer: you'd probably stop hanging out with her.

Social media is the same way, you can't approach Twitter or Facebook thinking of it as a way to make sales or as a marketing tool. They're tools for facilitating conversation, and by facilitating conversation, increasing relationships in a more personal way. You're much more likely to buy an Avon product from your friend Meagan than you are to buy one from some random stranger on the street.

Now, if you're still following me, I'll stop ranting an explaining my marketing ideas and start asking some questions.

First off, what kind of marketing do you think is most effective? What makes you stop and pay attention? Do emails work, or do you tend to ignore them?

In a theatre perspective, how often would you want to be told that a theatre production is occurring? There would have to be the initial "Hey, this show opens on the 24th" notification, but what about after that?

How often is too often?

I'm not concerned too much with established customers -- those who might dub themselves theatre aficionados -- but rather with Joe Schmoe who would rather watch a football game.

What would make you give up your Friday or Saturday night to spend $15-25 and three hours to see a play by someone you don't personally know, but have probably heard of somehow or some way (ads, etc)?

I'm probably being too vague here, but I figured I'd give it a shot. Any thoughts, be they answers to my question or just general thoughts regarding marketing, are welcome.

Gilshalos Sedai
06-05-2009, 11:40 AM
Actually, (and I can only speak for the writing field) word of mouth is a publisher's wet dream. All that Twitter/Facebook/Myspace crap is generated ONLY to promote word of mouth. A publisher really loves word of mouth because it's the cheapest and best form of advertising.

Ishara
06-05-2009, 11:41 AM
FYI, I'm having a similar problem with my esty store. I have business cards, and will give them out at request, but I'm not just leaving them lying around because a) they're expensive and I don't like being wasteful, and b) I never, ever pick up business cards unless I'm at a stall or store. I donate jewellery to fundraisers for auctions, and that's brought a bit of interest (via page views), but no real sales increases to date. So, I think I think I'm taking the jump to craft fairs. Am freaking out over the amount of time and pure guts this will take.

Anywho...
First off, what kind of marketing do you think is most effective? I think you're TOTALLY right, word of mouth. But remember, it takes TEN good experiences to even begin to counteract ONE bad one. What makes you stop and pay attention? Um, in what context? Good pictures, good descriptions - write as if your client is blind, good quality products - no poster paper please. Do emails work, or do you tend to ignore them? Ignore. In a big way. I'm a nazi about email. No more than 20 in my inbox, ever, and I get 200+ a day.

In a theatre perspective, how often would you want to be told that a theatre production is occurring? There would have to be the initial "Hey, this show opens on the 24th" notification, but what about after that? At least once after that, as a reminder.

How often is too often? In terms of theatre? More than twice after the initial announcement, imo.

I'm not concerned too much with established customers -- those who might dub themselves theatre aficionados -- but rather with Joe Schmoe who would rather watch a football game.

What would make you give up your Friday or Saturday night to spend $15-25 and three hours to see a play by someone you don't personally know, but have probably heard of somehow or some way (ads, etc)? Well, positive reviews are a good start, but word of mouth, cheaper tickets, deals with other establishments (i.e. dinner and a show), are all things that would draw me in.

Crispin's Crispian
06-05-2009, 12:16 PM
Honestly, theater is damn hard to market to a wide audience. In college and grad school, there were tons of advertisements (flyers, college paper announcements, radio spots, etc.) for various theater projects, plays, and musicals. In my town, I see a lot of flyers posted for plays at local high schools or rep theaters.

But none of it matters unless it's something I think would be interesting to watch. And the biggest problem I've seen for theater advertising is that it never tells you what to expect. Is it a comedy? Is it a one-man show? Is it something I should recognize or an adaptation? Most ads seem to rely on prior knowledge, as if I should simply know that it's a good play and should therefore be obligated to see it.

If you want to market to the occasional or uncommon theater-goer, you need to make it more clear what they should expect. That's hard to do on a flyer, but it should at least be interesting enough for me to ask around. At which point, you're back to word-of-mouth.

JSUCamel
06-05-2009, 12:37 PM
Good stuff, good stuff. I agree, Ishara, about business cards and emails, btw. I think they're largely useless unless you specifically ask for them.

I think as far as emails go, there has to be a ton of immediately actionable and relevant information for it to be useful. For instance, I subscribe to an email blast from groupon.thepoint.com which offers daily deals in Chicago. Really nice deals, too. And the title of the email contains what the deal is -- I don't have to read any more if I don't want to. Also, I subscribe to hottix.com's e-blast, which lets me know each week what shows are on sale that week.

And then I get about two dozen random unsolicited emails from various theatres that are irrelevant, uninformative, or just plain annoying. For instance, I got one the other day that said (and this goes into what Crispin just said) "The Factory Theatre presents '411: The Call'. Previews begin June 19th" And that's it. I don't know what it's about (other than some sort of information hotline), and I don't know what genre it is, what time, where, how much tickets are, etc. It's useless information that's cluttering up my inbox.

I agree with you, Crispin, about the prior knowledge thing. It's easy, as a marketer, to know what these things are. When I worked at my last company with Tam, the marketing guys would up things like "up-sell" and "cross-sell" and all these marketing words that I didn't know (or rather, I thought I knew them, but I wasn't sure if my definition was the correct one), and I asked more than once if we should rephrase them in more common terms for those who, like me, don't know anything about that kind of stuff.

Interesting stuff. One of the problems, I think, with advertising is finding that balance between short & sweet and informative & interesting. Most people look at an advertisement for just a few seconds -- so how do I tell you what the show is about if I've got 5 seconds to catch your attention?

Hmm.

Crispin's Crispian
06-05-2009, 01:32 PM
Interesting stuff. One of the problems, I think, with advertising is finding that balance between short & sweet and informative & interesting. Most people look at an advertisement for just a few seconds -- so how do I tell you what the show is about if I've got 5 seconds to catch your attention?

Hmm.
I think this is probably THE problem with advertising. I know it plagues my company all the time. Our success hinges on our reputation and the experience of our employees (as with most consultancies), but how do we communicate that quickly and in a way that is engaging.

"We have a combined 450 years of experience in small parcel shipping and freight negotiations."

Sounds nice, but that's also what every other company says.

"We guarantee that we can lower your costs. If you don't save money, you owe us nothing."

Big deal. The whole process of negotiating freight rates is time-consuming and difficult.

Only two things have really worked for well for us: word of mouth/references, and getting in front of people at tradeshows and events. You have to explain it in person.

Ozymandias
06-05-2009, 02:22 PM
write as if your client is blind

Haha did no one else laugh at this bit?