“What?”, I hear you cry…”Are you insane? We’re in Edinburgh! We have to go out onto the Royal Mile! We have to come up with a gimmick which will make people notice our show! We have to come up with something crazy, which will make people stop and look at our amazing creativity, and thus entice them into taking a flyer, and therefore immediately and directly book our show!”
Stop. Please, stop. Or I may have to gouge out my own eyes with blunt spoons.
Before I had the privilege of getting involved in this industry, I spent a lot of my working life in both soft and hard sales environments – from training upselling to servers in well known chain restaurants to working cold call telesales.
Last night, I delivered an hour’s training which I’d devised to our cast on how not to flyer, and how to sell your show instead. There is a world of difference.
At the festival, there are a number of flyering people. I’m going to assume here that if you’re reading this, then you don’t have the budget to hire people to flyer for you. This is a good thing. Those who are paid to flyer work a tough job for a tough wage, on their feet for hours at a time until they have distributed their allocation of flyers. It’s the marketing equivalent of taking a blunderbuss and trying to aim it at a duck ten miles away. Sure, you might get the odd pellet to land, but it’s not cost effective unless you’re a large organisation with deep pockets.
So, what are the rest of us to do? If we can’t have blunderbuss flyering keeping our show in the public mind, and we can’t sit on the Royal Mile on a toilet in the vain hope that someone might think we’ve come up with something new and revolutionary in theatre and it’s worth getting up at 10am to see our new show, how should we move forward?
Easy. Flyering is, quite simply, putting flyers in people’s hands and then watching them walk down the Royal Mile and file them into one of the bins conveniently provided by the Council (I had a lovely conversation with their officers on the Mile about what was legal and illegal about throwing flyers on the floor – they were genuinely helpful, and I learned a lot about how not to get a fine!). It rarely generates sales. That’s right, sales. Ick. Horrible word.
Ultimately, though, that’s what we’re here for – to sell tickets, to fill our spaces, and to make back the money our investors have put into the show (and just for the record, I’ve got two grand of my own cash which is needed elsewhere right now in this show, so it’s important for me to make sure we sell seats – believe me, I’ve got my money where my mouth is here).
Having trained our lovely cast last night on how to sell a show and not just flyer it, I spent this morning wandering the Mile, checking out the sales competition. Frankly, I was amazed. I was approached by one person (and I’m sorry if this was you) who actually said to me (and I wrote this down after) “I’m sorry, you’re probably not really interested in comedy, but would you like a flyer anyway?”. I kid you not. I was sold out of the show before I’d even seen the flyer. And I was out looking for people to flyer me!
So, why am I blathering on about this today? Two reasons –
Reason the First: Please don’t just randomly put flyers in people’s hands, especially apologetically. They won’t come to your show.
Reason the Second: I just realised that my previous skill sets in sales are applicable to my show, and therefore are of benefit to my cast, the Pleasance, our investors, and myself (as both investor and director).
Reason the second opens an interesting possibility. I bumped into some East 15 Graduates today who have different shows here (I’m privileged enough to teach there sometimes), and offered to help them to sort out their flyering strategy and implementation for a few pints down the pub over the coming few days.
Once our show is settled I’ll be leaving for London (returning to deliver a free session on Open Book Management at Fringe Central on the 12th August at 1pm). That session is free. Yes, you heard me right. Free.
However, if you want the inside sales techniques that will work, just contact our producer, Kelly, on firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m sure we can work something out….
Remember – you’re not flyering. You’re selling seats. And I sincerely wish each and every one of you every success in doing so.