Or more accurately, a plea for help.
A typical Creation Theatre show costs £100,000. That includes a director, actors, lighting, sound, costumes, fight directors, venues, festoons, chairs, battered suitcases, designers, tiny metal houses, puppets, and everything else that you witness on stage. As a regional company who receives no core funding, we aim to break-even at the end of each run; to do that, we need to make sure that as many people see the shows as possible.
Marketing is a costly and frequently ineffective business. On average, we spend around £8,000 on the creation and distribution of printed media per show – posters, leaflets, postcards, corex boards and banners come into our office and out into Oxfordshire constantly. Although a small number of these leaflets reach our audience directly, we spend both time and money covering up coffee shop walls with posters and posting leaflets through doors across the county, in the hope that it might land on the doormat of someone who will then book the show. The decline of print media in general doesn’t help – paying for a leaflet insert in a newspaper just doesn’t have the same impact nowadays.
We don’t want to spend our time and money making things that we know will, eventually, land in someone’s recycling bin having not been looked at. Frequently we’re guilty of recycling boxes of print that have been left unused during the course of a show’s run (after using them as doorstops and small tables for a while).
We’re fed up of the waste of paper, the waste of time, and the waste of money.
So, how do we combat this? Well, social media is the answer. You, dear reader (or Twitterer/Facebooker/blogger etc), are the answer.
- Boosting the trailer for our 2016 production of Hamlet on Facebook for the grand sum of £30 meant that the video reached 49,044 people. That £30 accounts for 0.375% of our leaflet budget.
- A tweeted photograph during our 1984 run reached 13,340 people, almost double our emailing list.
- When we ask fans of our Facebook page to share a video, we can reach over 4,000 people in less than 24 hours.
The more we do by social media, the less we need to spend on our marketing budgets. We can channel that money into our shows, creating bigger and better theatre.
Social media campaigns allow us to understand our audiences. We can see the reach of any online campaign by just clicking on Analytics; this information allows us to build more efficient campaigns and fine-tune our marketing, making sure that our resources are used effectively. Leafleting houses sadly is less informative…
How can you help? Let’s get connected – follow us on Twitter and Instagram, like us on Facebook, and if you’re feeling formal, find us on LinkedIn. Retweet us, share us, comment on our posts, use those little emoji reactions on Facebook that I sometimes click on accidentally. And please, don’t be passive – do ask us questions, “@” us, tag us in posts. If you talk to us online, we’ll talk back.
If you’re not a social media type, but still want to help out, please spread the word the old-fashioned way – talk to people. Tell your family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues about us. Local arts organisations need people like you, people who are enthusiastic and passionate about theatre and storytelling – we know that word-of mouth can transform a show’s sales far more than a leaflet ever could.
So please, share this, and spread the word.