A marketing strategy is simply a road map of specific ways and methods you will use to promote your show and/or organization. Just as a blueprint is used by architects to illustrate their building plans, a good marketing strategy will allow you to illustrate how you will effectively communicate with audiences that will come out to see and benefit from your performance. Let’s take a look at creating a basic strategy.
State your Goals & Objectives
A good place to start is to list the goals and objectives you wish to accomplish with your production/organization. This will give you targets to aim for as well as have a good idea of your progress towards it.
Examples of specific goals and objectives:
- Sell 80% of seats each night
- Double our newsletter subscribers
- Increase online ticket purchases via our website
PRO TIP: When listing your goals, keep sentences short and in an active voice. Instead of writing ‘get people to my show’, try ‘sell 80% of seats each night’. The former is a broad statement that doesn’t inspire specific ways of going about it, while the latter allows you to ask questions such as: how many seats does my venue hold? Will 80% of seats sold every night be enough to break even? Am I in a position to set a lower target?
Define your Target Market
The term ‘target market’ simply refers to what segmented portion of the population you will use your energy and resources to communicate with. Typically, markets are segmented geographically, demographically, psychographically and/or behaviourally. You might not need to use all of these categories in your segmentation. If your show is in Toronto (and is not touring elsewhere) for example, you wouldn’t use your resources to try and communicate with audiences in Barrie when using geographical segmentation in targeted ads.
Here are some questions to ask when developing your target market:
- Is there a specific age-group that my show speaks to?
- What are some themes in my show? Do they have to do with specific issues that are present to a certain type of people?
- Is my show touring? Do I need to focus on different locations?
- Is my venue accessible or inaccessible to certain people? Check out detailed Accessibility questions here.
PRO TIP: Be as objective as you can. The more you can profile your market, the better chances you have of being able to reach them. Inferences will no doubt be a part of this phase, but it’s best not to infer too much. Performing a Marketing Analysis (an assessment of your market, such as volume, location, socio-economic factors, mobility, interest and engagement, comparable productions/projects, and other important factors) might be a good idea at this stage. The more research and facts you can use to support your chosen target market, the better. Remember, there isn’t always just one ‘target market’ that your show will speak to. You are choosing to reach out to them based on your resources as well as other factors based on your situation, any audience member outside of this targeted market is a happy bonus!
Profile your Target Market
Now that we defined who we would like to target, let’s think about figuring out what communication channels they use and how they typically receive information. Things to consider:
- What does my target group have an interest in?
- Where do these people access their information? (Social media, discussions with friends, Newspaper, TV, Radio, etc..)
- Where do these people spend their time?
- Who do they spend their time with? (This will give you people to model after when developing the voice and tone of your campaign)
- Do they speak in a specific vernacular?
- What is a day in their life like?
PRO TIP: It can be very hard to list these characteristics without already wanting to think about how and what you will do to access these people, but try your best to refrain from doing so. You are still in the information gathering stages, so it’s best to stay away from drawing conclusions about these people.
Perform a S.W.O.T Analysis
A S.W.O.T (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis is an effective way to look at your current situation and evaluate the resources you have. The first two categories are internal factors, meaning that you should be looking within your organization when listing items. The latter two are external factors, meaning you should be observed outside of your organization/team/project. Let’s look at a breakdown:
Strengths: What things do you have going for you that gives you a leg up on this project?
It could be anything from having a large budget to having a dedicated team of volunteers, to having an all teenage cast.
Weaknesses: What factors do you not have going for you?
Small budget? Working alone? Don’t have a strong digital footprint? New to the city with few connections?
Opportunities: What outside factors can you take advantage of for this project?
Is the venue offering you cheap/free rental? Did someone offer to partner up with your project and cross-promote? Are there any festivals your show can be a part of?
Threats: What outside factors are threatening your production/project?
Is there another show/event that is going on at the same time as yours? Did your venue become suddenly unavailable?
Once you establish a few points in each category, the goal is to try and find ways to maximize your strengths and use them to reduce weaknesses. You also want to take advantage of your opportunities to avoid and/or minimize threats.
Prepare your Tactics
By now you have a good sense of what your goals are, who you choose to target and where they access and receive information. You have also analyzed your strengths and weaknesses, saw what opportunities you can take advantage of, and listed possible threats that can endanger your project. Here is where you can decide what tactics you will use to fill up the house during the run. These tactics are specific actionable items that you can implement as a way to meet the goals defined above. This is where you would typically list your strategy for advertising, promotions, publicity and public relations.
- Actionable: You want specific tactics that you can act upon
- Measurable: Although not always possible, it is best to try and keep your tactics measurable so that you can track your progress in regards to how close you are to achieving the goals you have set out
- Simple: Each Individual tactic should be simple and have one specific function
PRO TIP: At this point, you should have actionable items that you can implement. During the implementation of your strategy, keep an eye out for what is working, and what isn’t and don’t be afraid to adjust accordingly. The purpose of a marketing strategy is to give you a clear path ahead. It is meant to be flexible, and should be regularly reviewed and adjusted to make sure it is meeting your needs.
One way to think about Marketing is as a tree with the following branches:
While each branch has its own set of things to focus on, all of them tie in together to make a cohesive and complete marketing plan.
Now that you have your strategy, it's time to start Marketing! You'll have to put together a promotional kit, update your website, start advertising, and working on a social media campaign.
"Top 3 tips for promoting a culturally diverse show" by Natasha Adiyana Morris offers great tips for promoting and producing culturally diverse work.