After a remarkable final weekend, the production of Geek! has been put to bed – the books closed and put away, the set pieces tucked into their resting places, and the cast and crew given one last drink.
I couldn’t be happier with how this show turned out. For one thing, it was nearly drama-free (at least, the off-stage variety). The director and I commented afterward that it was almost relaxing, or at least as relaxing as a production could be. I kept waiting for something to blow up, but the worst that happened was a projector that overheated, requiring us to adjust the room temperature. Maybe the universe finally realized it owed us a little quiet.
We also had a great turnout. The best numbers we’ve had, consistently, for something that wasn’t Shakespeare. Our audiences had great enthusiasm, too, and we were absolutely loving listening to the reactions from the booth.
We’ve been debating whether to attribute this success to the play’s content, the new location in an area that is very supportive of the arts, or new marketing strategies. In the end, I think, we’ve decided that it was just a killer combination.
This does mean that some of our new marketing will have to stay. We had several major new strategies, and all of them seem to have helped.
The use of the Huntsville Comic & Pop Culture Expo as an advertising platform was perfect for this play. We were given both a table in the fan hall for the event and a time slot to perform scenes on the main stage. The organizer also volunteered to share our marketing information to the event’s social media pages, which reach a much larger audience than ours. Unfortunately, this venue may not work for future performances that don’t have comic book themes. It is, though, a great lesson in finding related businesses and events. We’re all about cross-promotion.
Our second strategy was also about cross-promotion. We spoke with the chef at a popular local restaurant about having table cards on display for the two weeks of the shows. In return, we offered a discounted ticket price for anyone who brought in a receipt from the restaurant from the week of the show, and we also put an ad for the restaurant in the program. According to people who worked there, the ads did get some attention. Unfortunately, the ticketing system wasn’t programmed to differentiate between the discount for a restaurant receipt or the discount for coming in cosplay, so we don’t really have the individual numbers. Next time, we’ll talk to the theater manager about the possibility of making those distinctions. Especially since we are talking with other restaurants about similar cross-promotions.
Amping up our social media also seemed to work. We’ve already experimented with paying for Facebook ads. This time, I cut together a video of actor interviews and some related scenes from rehearsals. Comparing the video ad to the ad we ran when we were using a Hollywood actor and playwright’s presence as a selling point, it turns out that the video did just as well. Better for organic views, in fact. It’s not a great direct comparison based on the timeframes that we ran the two ads, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.
The downside, of course, is that now my job includes going to related events, pitching marketing proposals to local business owners, creating and distributing table cards and other materials, and creating a promotional video. The director is much more well-connected than I am, so he deals with talking to event coordinators, for the most part. And knows most of the restaurant owners. So more work for him, too.
But the results we’ve seen really seem to be worth the extra work. The audience’s enthusiasm left us eager continue to grow and try new things. It’s awe-inspiring to see the community we’re building.