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Solo Entrepreneur Articles > PR Articles > Public Relations Articles
For the last week I’ve been in Washington D.C., performing my one woman show, Dr. Serenity Hawkfire’s Beyond Being Workshop, at the Cap Fringe Festival. What I’ve learned performing at these festivals this summer has LOTS of lessons for platform builders, because ultimately it’s all about marketing.
At the end of the day promoting my one woman show successfully really IS no different form building and promoting any platform.
My venue here in DC is small and personal (40 seats), but I still have to hustle to fill those precious seats. And given that there are 19 other companies producing shows at the same time in the festival, I have a lot of competition for audience.
Compounding this is the fact that I’m one of a handful of non-local companies. No one really knows me here (save for a few loyal readers of this list) … I don’t have the word of mouth from the locals, or the friend network to rely on. Also, since I’m not local, I’m not around to do the preview performances weeks before the festival starts that are so critical to building early buzz among the media and other artists.
In addition there is the tantalizing pressure of the ‘Best Solo Performance’ award given to the show that receives the most audience votes from Theatermania.com.
I’m just competitive (and crazy) enough to think with the right marketing I might be able to win this baby – so strategy is key. If I can get an honor like that for my show along WITH a coveted Washington Post review … then the new booking kit I’m developing to send to theaters is going to be much more effective.
Here’s what I’m doing that seems to be working:
1. Begin with friends. OK, you’ve GOT to know someone, right? Or someone who knows someone? That network of yours is where you begin this thing – and I have to say it helped that I have you loyal readers. A few friends and readers have been in every audience for me.
2. Contact media in a hooky way. No brainer, right? Yes, but it must be done the right way. Fortunately, these festivals put together good comprehensive lists of all media contacts in the area for us. So I write up an email about how my show reflects my life to date – I really AM a self-help ‘guru’ who has now gotten to the point in my career that I’ve decided to parody myself … a sign of our times! (Note: the email is NOT about ‘I’m doing a show!’ but something more that’s actually got a story.) NOTE: You can access such lists yourself through various PR list services like Bacon’s.
3. Personalize that email. I make a point of sending each email to an actual person and put their first name in the subject and the Dear so-and-so line. Important!
4. Attach a fun graphic. I put a graphic at the end of each email – just so they get a little flavor of my show. If you have a ‘signature graphic’ in your business – something that says it all visually (this is one thing I help folks develop when they coach with me) … it helps media people ‘get’ what you do more quickly.
5. Follow up by phone one week before your event … OR if you’re just promoting a business in general, one week after you send the initial email. I found that I hit it right on the head when I lasered in on about ten of the most important contacts in the DC theater media one week before the festival started. That’s just when they were sitting at their desk contemplating which of the shows to see. (I used friends in the area and festival staff to determine these contacts.)
RESULT: I got a nice review from Peter Marks, the premier reviewer with the Washington Post. AND I exchanged several emails with Trey Graham, keeper of the influential ‘Fringe and Purge’ blog, who may or may not ultimately cover the show. At least I’m on his radar screen.
6. Be willing to be a fool for your cause – or at least sample what you do. One of the better ways to drive people to a show like mine is for me to hand out flyers in costume (and in character.) I set up camp outside the busiest metro stop in DC at rush hour (DuPont Circle) and handed out quick little flyers to my show while chatting in my character’s funny and mildly deranged way. For every ten people who ignored me or blew me off, two would stop, get engaged and consider coming to my show. When I actually showed them what I do they were intrigued. (I ‘read their mind' with my lobal connector tool … shown here.) I also did this at the festival’s opening party which got me some early buzz. Very noticeable!
By the way, this was REALLY hard to get myself to do – especially putting on my wig in the middle of the metro – BUT once I got rolling and got a few positive responses it was nothing less than joyful. Only the first few minutes were painful. Ultimately this kind of thing is a commitment to yourself, first and foremost. You’ll thank yourself for doing this, trust me.
NOTE: Again I got on the phone and called the festival director for a little chat about where I might do this flyering … use the people who know your market and their habits.
7. Use email to connect with participants. Every person who attends my show ‘registers’ for it by signing up when they arrive with name and email address on a clipboard. There are those who resist of course, and that’s fine. For those who are game, however, there are rewards! My strategy is to contact all of those who sign up after seeing my show with a link to vote for my show as Best Solo Performance of the festival … AND then to reward that by sending them a fun freebie. (That would be something like my PDF file of a paper cut out of Serenity’s Yurt which you can put together so it sits on your desk.)
8. Make it easy to create buzz. I put flyers for my show on every seat so participants can pass it along to a friend. Then I request they do that at the end after the curtain call. This could work great in a speech, presentation or even via links in an email after a teleclass sampler of what you do.
RESULTS: I’ve steadily built audience since I got here. Early audiences were at 25% but my latest houses are at 70% capacity which is great! I got my review … and I’m working on my votes.
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About the expert:
|Suzanne Falter-Barns, Founder of Get Known Now!. Suzanne is a platform building and branding expert who teaches her clients to establish that critical credibility necessary to become a known expert in their field. She's one of the best of the best in filling group programs. |
© Copyright 2008, Suzanne Falter-Barns