You Can't Build Shows Off of Friends And Family

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As a producer, I can tell you that I have pretty much seen it all. Not only producing The Looking Glass Revue but other productions around the world that I have been blessed to be part of and have produced. Producing a show and putting “meat in the seats” as I like to call it, is tough. In today’s world, Live Entertainment isn’t what it use to be. You have to compete with Netflix and people not wanting to get out of their house.

I love seeing new shows and creative new ways to put Burlesque out there and on a stage for artists and performers to show their talents. But what I can tell you, I have seen so many shows fizzle because they start off with their first one or two shows sold out and they think they have made it. When you look into your audience and you see nothing but your friends and family you have a serious problem. They will grow tired of coming and supporting your shows. That’s a reality! I know, it’s shocking, they should come and support you all the time, but guess what, they have a life too.

If you’re depending on the “community” to come out to your shows to show support because “they get it”, think again. I can tell you that in all my years producing The Looking Glass Revue, we have never relied on performers or industry professionals to be our bread and butter. If they come out, wonderful, but they aren’t keeping the lights on for us. I never targeted them as my market. I want to rely solely on the merit of the show itself and the talent of performers I wanted to showcase and bring to my stage. I always had a different idea about marketing LGR and the show!

Understanding how to produce and market a successful show that will continue to bring people out consistently is a task. Not an easy one, I might add. Once producers understand that they need to talk with their audience and understand what they want they will be more successful. One thing I see a lot of are performers producing shows that are more worried about pleasing themselves or other performers rather than their audience, an audience that you expect to pay good money to come and see you. Producers need to be in touch and in tune with their audience.

Here are a few tips that I can give you:

  • Evaluate your show/talent and be honest with your audience. Yes I know that may be really hard to understand. From what I’ve heard, Burlesque is a platform for everyone. That’s fine, but make sure you’re honest with your audience about what they are getting. Make sure you are clear in your marketing efforts, from the Facebook Event, the flyer and even your website and ticket link. Don’t deceive your audience, there is never coming back from that in my opinion. Don’t show or steal photos from other shows that do not represent your show. That’s a big ole no no!

  • Have a plan. You can’t start without a plan. No matter what you’re marketing, you need a plan. Make sure you can organize your plan with what works best for you. We all work differently, find what works to keep your plan organized.

  • Know your target audience. You should know what they like, what they don’t like. You should know their demographic but more importantly, you should know how they behave. With the world of social media, behavior trumps everything!

  • Consistency. Your efforts to market your show should be consistent. Don’t post a month out and then we don’t see anything about your show until the day before. Pro Tip: Don’t be spammy though, consistency doesn’t mean be annoying.

  • Find new and clever ways to promote your show and hey, try out a new audience. Don’t just share the poster, share some tidbits about the show, why it’s different, why it’s great! Highlight something about it.

  • Leverage your team. Yep, those people in the show, those people helping, those true long-standing fans of yours. Leverage them. Don’t ask them to just share the flyer or poster on their social, ask them to elaborate on why they are excited about the show. Heck, I’ve even written content for someone that way they just have to copy and paste. Make it easy on your cast and production team. Pro Tip: Make sure when you ask them to share you’re also sharing with them the exact link for tickets. Use Bitly to shorten your URL for them!

  • Analytics. Now you’ve done the work, how does it look? Look at the numbers. That’s from everything, engagement, clicks, ticket sales, etc. You better be looking at numbers.

Bottom line, keep an eye on your audience producers! Learn to build a network that you will be able to grow through time and that will outlast just your friends and family. Produce a killer show and market the hell out of it!