Monday, 28 July 2008

Flyers Flyers Flyers.....

This one goes out to all the stars of the shows....

When I'm not taking time off to swan about Edinburgh taking advantage of desperate Fringe performers, I work in sales and marketing (and also have a marketing degree), so it's quite interesting for me to observe the various tactics used by performers in order to attract as much attention to their shows as possible. (I say performers because with the exception of Jimmy Carr no-one can afford to employ PR companies to hand our flyers so you'll generally find it's the actors, writers and producers who are handing out flyers and harassing people on the Royal Mile).

So here are my tips to help make your show a success:

1. Take advantage of new technology. What do you mean your Fringe show doesn't have a facebook page? Please try and keep up. Bebo, Myspace.... they're all free. If you haven't done it already, you're already miles behind. Keep reading.....

2. Don't just hand out flyers. You have to engage with people.

If you wait until I have almost walked past you then you thrust a flyer right out in front of me, blocking my path, you'll get my "F*** Off I live here" stare, and I won't be coming to your show.

If you hold your flyer out just a little bit and give me a look that says "I hope you don't mind but I want to give you this flyer, but I really don't want to impose on you, I dooooo hope you'll come over to me and take one..." If you do that I'll avoid eye contact and keep walking. I don't want to be the one doing the approaching.

If you make eye contact early, smile, compliment me on my choice of T-Shirt and say. "We're doing this show, it's brilliant and I'm in it, so you'll want to come. Are you free at 3 o'clock?" You might just get me to stop and take a flyer (especially if you're a hot chick - I'll admit it - I'm a pushover if you're a confident hot little drama queen).

Say hello and aim to make a friend with every approach you make.

3. Be different. here are some of the things I've seen that have made people stand out on the Royal Mile:

People standing on pillars/on each others shoulders/lying on the ground/pretending to be dead whilst giving out flyers.

A double act where one guys gives out flyers and the other one tries to stop him shouting "Don't take one of them, their poisonous, I saw them last year, they were s***, don't trust him madam he's after your handbag" and grabbing him and wrestling him to the ground.

People wearing nothing but flyers (don't give out too many as you are liable to get arrested).

People giving out sweets with flyers - "Want a cola bottle? Well you can have one as soon as you take a flyer for our show at the C venue starting at 3.40 in theatre number two. I'm it it, it's great!"

One group sang "We're handing out flyers, we're handing out flyers" occasionally changing the lyrics to mention the venue, time and that the show was unsuitable for children, before going back to the chorus ad nauseum. Annoying but effective - like a daytime TV ad for cheaper car insurance!

You're actors. Improvise. The bolder the better.

4. Get noticed by the press.

One double act almost had to cancel their act when they were involved in a serious car accident on the way to Edinburgh, but they managed to get the show on and it was a complete sell out because the papers picked up on it.

I'm not suggesting you drive your car off the Forth Road Bridge, but you get my point.

I remember reading about a show in an inflatable swimming pool last year that was almost cancelled because the swimming pool got a puncture. Again, an unfortunate but ultimately happy co-incidence that helped them boost sales once they got it fixed because the press liked the story and ran with it (and before you ask, no, I didn't see the show so I can;t give any more details).

The above examples were genuine as far as I know, but things can be engineered. There's nothing wrong with a wee hoax to get your name in the paper - as long as you don't pretend the director is dying of cancer you should get away with it, and you might even get double exposure when the hoax is revealed. The wittier the better. As long as your confident the people being fooled see the funny side.

Also, try and pose for photographs when you;re out and about. If you can get your picture in The Scotsman, it'll help raise awareness of you and your show.

5. Hard work.

I've never put on a theatre show. Other than looking after the props for our school performance of Bugsy Malone 15 years ago, I have had no involvement at all. I realise it must be tiring, and you're probably sitting cross legged with excitement just thinking about the night life in Edinburgh during the Festival... but how hard you work will determine your success.

There will a direct correlation between your ticket sales and the amount of time you spend on the street promoting your show (unless you get really lucky and you get a five start review in The Scotsman in week one). If you are hungover and can't be bothered, then your show will not be a success and you are going to be no nearer to achieving your goals (i.e. getting a decent gig on Channel 4) than you were at the start of the summer. You'd have been as well spending your August working at Butlins.

6. Use your initiative.

The edfringe website is neutral (unless you pay to advertise) but it also lets people post reviews about shows they have seen. If you have a friend who has seen your show, get them to rate it, or write a review. Let's face it, everyone else is going to be doing it.

A few years ago a friend of mine was running a show. I gave it a stunning review after night one (which was empty) and by night three it had almost sold out because it was the top rated show in the "Dance and Physical Theatre" section on the website. It one five start rating (mine) and a cracking written review, compared with all the other shows' no ratings and no reviews....

7. Bribery

The Scotsman published a list of things that they had been sent by performers to try and entice them to come and review their show. The list included cake, alcohol, novelty toys, etc etc.... I wouldn't recommend cash bribes.

So, good luck promoting your show. I hope it's a success.

See you on the Royal Mile!!!


Poster said...

I'm taking your advice:

During the Edinburgh Fringe 2007, the Poster Menace struck in several sites and in numerous venues with bogus posters and announcements. Their chagrin was never more, er, chagrined. The product of this carnage is an exhibition at the Teviot Public Bar, Gilded Balloon, open any time, except the Triassic, entry FREE!

A booklet is also available of all the photographs and can be purchased from the Gilded Balloon ticket office or ‘Beyond Words’ located just off the Royal Mile on Cockburn Street. All the proceeds from this go to Charity – every single penny. Individual prints can be purchased from here:

The Poster Menace will return to reek as he has never reeked before a terrible havoc upon the denizens (that’s people who live and work there) of Edinburgh.


P.S. Not a bad idea for a blog.

Tommy Mackay said...

Make sure you check out the local and FREE talent too e.g. Tartan Special:

Aw ra best!