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2007-08 Marketing Plan Introduction & Goals ................................................................................................................................ 2 Competitive Overview & Recommendations ........................................................................................... 3 Sales .......................................................................................................................................................... 5 Season passes........................................................................................................................................ 5 Group marketing .................................................................................................................................. 9 Individual production tickets ............................................................................................................. 14 Building your database ........................................................................................................................15 Website goals ...................................................................................................................................... 16 Build community through a blog ....................................................................................................... 19 Email marketing ................................................................................................................................. 22 Fundraising ............................................................................................................................................ 23 Selling corporate sponsors ................................................................................................................. 23 Renewal process ................................................................................................................................. 25 Grants ................................................................................................................................................. 25 Publicity .................................................................................................................................................. 26 Building relationships with the media ............................................................................................... 26 Story ideas .......................................................................................................................................... 27 Tips for writing press releases ............................................................................................................ 28 Distributing releases on the web ........................................................................................................ 28 Branding ................................................................................................................................................. 29 Brand promise & personality traits .................................................................................................... 29 Your productions and your brand ...................................................................................................... 29 Visual branding recommendations .................................................................................................... 29 Operational branding recommendations ........................................................................................... 30 Resources needed & budget ................................................................................................................... 31 Budget ................................................................................................................................................. 31 Sales resources needed ....................................................................................................................... 31 Fundraising resources needed ........................................................................................................... 32 Publicity resources needed ................................................................................................................. 32 Branding resources ............................................................................................................................. 33 General office resources ..................................................................................................................... 33 Week-by-week promotional timeline .................................................................................................... 34 This plan is long and detailed because it offers instructions that can help you since you have such limited resources. But don’t these details scare you or allow you to lose focus on the big picture. Focus on the action plan we created in your strategic plan – the 3 key to-dos in each strategic area. Then use this document as a reference tool when you’re ready to execute!

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Introduction & Goals This marketing plan supports the long-term strategic plan we’ve developed for the Studio. In that plan we used the following critical numbers the Studio must absolutely hit: ! ! !

Revenue goal: $400,000 Ticket sales goal: 6,480 tickets Capital campaign goal: $70,000

We also agreed on the following key strategic initiatives on which the Studio needs to focus over the next three seasons: 1. Sales to sell packaged tickets (groups, ‘season’ passes) for this season and next 2. Fundraising to generate corporate donations & grants and nurture/renew those donors each year 3. Publicity: Generate substantial press coverage and buzz in the community 4. Resources: Get volunteers, members, employees to execute our plans 5. Branding: Maximize our impact by developing a brand strategy and executing it consistently 6. Programming: Ensure that we continually produce engaging, stimulating projects 7. Partnerships: Seek innovative ways to build patron & donor base through partnerships with arts / educational organizations The plan went on to list specific action items for the 2006-07 season (and ’07-08 will involve more of the same activities). This document provides specific ‘how-tos’ for each strategic area except programming and partnerships. It will touch on specific goals, tips & resources needed for each type of activity. It also includes a detailed week-by-week marketing timeline to promote specific productions.

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Competitive Overview & Recommendations Phoenix is a very difficult theatre market. An October 2006 article in the Arizona Republic listed over 60 local theatre companies, most of them struggling. The Studio’s goal is to provide a “workout facility” to local artists. It’s a membership organization designed to help artists hone their skills and produce intimate, high-quality plays to share their love of theatre with the community. However, the fact that the Studio is a membership organization isn’t important to audience members. In a November 2006 board meeting, the board acknowledged that the Studio competes with all of these organizations for patron and sponsor dollars: Phoenix Theatre Scottsdale Center for the Arts Actors Theatre AZ Theatre Company Mesa Performing Arts Center Stray Cat Theatre Theatre Works Fountain Hills Community Theatre

Lunchtime Theatre AZ Jewish Theatre Desert Foothills Nearly Naked Theatre ASU arts (many) Phoenix Symphony Ballet Opera Chamber music Professional sports – Suns, Cardinals, etc.

Movies Restaurants Bowling Concerts Golf College sports Family outings Staying home

The Studio faces substantial challenges in these areas: 1.

Funding: As a fledgling organization, the Studio has to have a track record to qualify for grant money, and sponsor dollars are difficult to attain without at least a season or two of growing attendance and community acceptance

2. Ticket sales: The theatre seats only about 90 patrons, and to hit the Studio’s ticket revenue goal, you’ll need to sell 6,480 tickets during the 2006-07 season – and with no advertising budget and no sales staff. To reach this goal, you’ll need a substantial commitment from your board & members to pound the pavement and sell tickets – a major challenge. Gaining significant press coverage and building an online community can help substantially, but those activities also take repeated effort that can be difficult if not impossible without at least one or two full time dedicated personnel. 3. Programming: To gain substantial press coverage, your programming needs to be newsworthy. The “Voices Over 50” series has strong potential, but since the rest of the

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planned programs are smaller in scope, it will take persistence and creativity to gain media coverage strong enough to help you nearly sell out your theatre. 4. Resources: Without a single full-time staff, a $400,000 revenue goal is extremely ambitious. A rule of thumb in business is that a company needs a full-time staff member for every $200,000 in annual revenue. The Studio currently has no budget for full time staff, and the organization needs to generate about $350,000 to cover its fixed costs. 5. Focus: The 2006-07 schedule started with several serious productions that appealed primarily to the 45+ demographic. The second half of the year includes the “Voices Over 50” program, a “Weekend with Will,” and several children’s programs. The organization’s BHAG is to become known as a Valley cultural institution, but it’s extraordinarily difficult and expensive to “be all things to all people.” I believe your programming needs either far more or far less variety to help you gain traction in the market. You’ll be focused on providing an inviting, accessible experience (traits you’ve defined in your brand strategy), but patrons also need to get excited about your programming. There are quite a few theatres doing more cutting edge, trendy material that can attract the average 18-45 year old patron. And when you include a children’s show every once in a while, you have to reach out to busy parents who are just less likely to attend your theatre on a regular basis. I think your organization has a far stronger competitive advantage in focusing on productions that appeal to serious theatre-goers of 45+. You have an outstanding location, easy parking, a wonderful facility, and a tremendous group of caring performers that will appeal to that market. These patrons spend more money and time promoting the arts; they’ll be far more likely to purchase season passes and organize groups of their friends to attend your shows.

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Sales Here are specific sales goals for the 2006-07 season: ! ! !

Generate $115,200 in revenue from 6,480 tickets Sell 200 ‘season’ (5 shows) tickets and 60 groups (12 people avg) Build a “ticket marketing engine” with regular communications & campaigns

The “detailed sales goals” workbook (and section of this binder) includes worksheets with detailed breakouts and goal-tracking capabilities.

Season passes The best way to hit a lofty sales goal is pre-sell the tickets to your productions instead of leaving your attendance to chance (walkups). While it will be difficult to create these passes when your schedule is constantly evolving, you absolutely need to generate the cash flow and commitment from your patrons with this type of package. Make it work!

Benefits to pre-selling 1. Cash flow: Get ticket $$ upfront! 2. Lower your marketing investment: It’s more expensive to market single tickets to a large audience than it is to focus on selling higher-dollar packages to a smaller group. 3. Improve the experience: Focus on selling out the most important events & nights so that people will enjoy the experience and spread the word 4. Invest your energy more wisely: When you know which nights already have high attendance, you can focus your energy on other events. 5. Build more loyal patron base: Get them used to coming to your productions, not your competitions’!

Goals • • • •

Sell 1,000 total tickets via a ‘season’ pass, which represents 15.4% of your total ticket goal. Create a package with at least 5 productions @ $20 per ticket. Sell 200 of these packages – and most people will buy 2 seats, so that’s 100 individual buyers. I recommend asking each of your members to sell 3 passes. 50 member * 3 = 150 passes, which would beat your goal.

How to create these packages

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List all of the remaining major events and allow them to choose 5 for their pass. (Normally you’d choose the events for them, but since your season has already started, you don’t want to have to reduce the package size from 5 to 4 to 3 as your chosen productions come and go. Next season, you’d have several different ticket plans with more productions in them – for now, you need at least 5.) •

• •

Offer the packages by night – they get the same night for each of the shows (Wed opening nights, Thu, Fri, Sat or Sun of the first week. Stack the nights at the beginning of the runs so that they can tell their friends to buy walkup tickets later in the run.) If they need to, they can swap nights. Keep the tickets full price! The incentive to buy season passes isn’t to save $$ -- it’s to reserve seats, to commit to something they will enjoy. When you discount a pass you leave substantial $$ on the table. Deny yourself the urge to discount. You have such a small theatre that you can’t afford to sell the seats for any less than $20.

Add value by allowing them to attend lectures free, inviting these patrons to special events, providing preferred parking, or reserving their actual seats. (Lecture idea is easy to implement this year; save the reserved seating/parking ideas for next.)

How to sell these packages Invest your energy in marketing these tickets! Change your thinking from promoting individual tickets to “season” tickets.

Promote them heavily on your website. Include a prominent graphic on every page with a link to a detail page. The detail page should have a strong call to action (CALL NOW! Limited availability!). It would also include a list of all the shows you can select, dates, explanations, etc. The page would also include a PDF brochure and a PDF order form that they can print and fax or mail in if they prefer to order that way.

Promote them heavily in the theatre. When people walk in and buy single tickets, ask them if they’d like to consider a season pass. Give them a brochure, explain how it works, and be ready to take those orders right away. (Swipe their credit cards!) Put signs in the restrooms and in prominent spots throughout the theatre – “Join us all season long! Pick up a season pass brochure at the front entrance.”

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Include the season pass message in your pre- and post-performance speeches.

Promote them to call-in orders. Think “upsell” – every time someone calls for a single event, suggest that they buy a package.

Promote them whenever you send a Studio email. Your email signatures should have a call-to-action (“Join us all season long – purchase a season pass today!”), your box office phone number and a link to the detail page on your website.

Make sure you add every purchaser to your database/Excel spreadsheet. Document exactly what they buy and how much they spend. You’ll need this info next season – these are the first people you’ll contact to “renew” and potentially add a donation on top of their ticket purchase.

How to service your “season ticket holders” 1.

2.

3. 4. 5.

This is a great role for a member who really wants to be involved with the community and your patrons – designate that person as your “VIP manager” with responsibility for ensuring that these patrons are happy and that you’re executing the programs effectively. Send a letter or email thanking them for their purchase. Let them know other ways to get involved and how much their involvement means to you. (They’re your most valuable patrons!) Recognize them in whatever ways you can. Reach out to them periodically through email, a letter, even a personal phone call. Make sure you add value to their package – for example, if the package includes preferred parking, make sure you execute! You don’t want to disappoint these patrons.

Materials you’ll need A print brochure. This is the brochure you hand out in the theatre. It can be as simple as an 8.5 x 11 tri-fold in black on white paper (so they can fax the form alone if needed); print on both sides and fold. It needs to list all of the events they can choose (with a paragraph about each); a checkbox so

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they can choose which ones they want; a date option (Wed-Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun). The order form should be included; capture their name, address, day/eve phone, email address (with a checkbox to sign up for email newsletters), and an extra line so they can add a donation. Print these brochures in small batches so that as productions come and go, you can remove them from the piece.

A PDF version of the brochure. You would include this version on the website. It just needs to be set up to view as a document (ie the tri-fold orientation doesn’t work in this format); include the same info and order form. (You can create it in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint and use a free PDF tool like www.pdf995.com)

A graphic you can use to promote the ticket packages on your website. It will link to a detail page on the site.

Detail page on the website. It would have all of the same info as the brochure but in the body copy of the page. Display a VERY strong call-to-action (CALL NOW!) at the top of the page. Include the PDF brochure so they can download it and send in an order later. It’s important to remove productions after they’ve concluded – try to keep this detail page and the brochure current.

Signage for the theatre. “Join us all season long! Pick up a season pass brochure at the front entrance.” Hang in restrooms and hallways.

A “script” for box office volunteers to upsell single-ticket patrons. It’s easy to forget when you’re taking a credit card order by phone. Make sure there’s a reminder hanging near the phone. If the patron isn’t ready to buy a package, ask them if you can email them the PDF brochure, then send it out.

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A letter or email thanking them for their purchase Other tools & resources you’ll need Someone to design the brochure. It needs to use the fonts, colors and visual style you choose to enforce your brand personality traits.

Someone watching over & updating the brochure & website pages Someone sending thank-you emails and corresponding with these VIPS.

Group marketing A successful group marketing program takes a strong, consistent sales effort: building a list of prospects, sending a personalized email or calling them; pitching the program, sending information, following up (much work here!) and collecting their funds. But there are many benefits: 1.

Many “groups” like companies & social clubs are always looking for new things to do – and they spend money on those events. 2. When a group enjoys an activity, they’ll come back every year. 3. When there are natural fits between a group’s interest and a production, it’s more costeffective to sell tickets to targeted groups than to promote the event to the public at large. 4. You can capture the names of individual attendees and market to them directly.

Goals •

Sell at least 720 group tickets for the rest of the season. o 60 groups * 12 members = 720 tickets, or 11% of your total ticket sales goal for the year. o If you ask each board member to bring in 3 groups, you’ll have 45 right off the bat (15 * 3 = 45.)

How to develop your group program

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Identify “value add” benefits for groups. Talk to local restaurants – they may be willing to offer a discount to your group attendees if they eat before or after the show. Include this info in your group brochure and on your website. In return, ask for counter space to display brochures with your schedule in them. Some groups may have regular non-social meetings. Offer to send a Studio member out to talk to their group and kick off the event or gauge their interest in coming to a show together. You can also invite them to come early or stay afterward for a private Q&A with the director, actors, etc.

Decide on pricing structure. If you decide to discount group tickets, you’ll need to sell that many more of them. Groups don’t necessarily decide whether to attend an event based on the individual ticket price … and your tickets are already very reasonable. However, if you offer a ‘kickback’ to a group, they may be more interested in making the effort to market to their members. For example, student clubs could sell tickets to their families and neighbors and earn $5 per ticket sold. The more ‘value add’ benefits you’re able to come up with, the less important the ticket price will be.

Seating You’ll need to reserve seats so the group can sit together. (Put their group name on slips on their chairs?)

Payment process Suggestion: Have them reserve a block of tickets with a credit card. If they need more tickets than they’ve reserved, they’ll need to let you know ASAP so you can block out those seats and add those tickets to their order; if they need to reduce the # of seats, allow them to do so up until 7 days before the show. (If they waffle at any of these things, just explain that your theatre is tiny so you have to be really careful to make sure you have the right tally so you can accommodate everyone. When they realize you’re a small nonprofit with 90 seats, they’ll soften.)

Ticket distribution

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I suggest asking the group leader to list the names and email addresses of everyone who is attending so you can hold their seats under their individual names. More importantly, you’ll have their names and email addresses!

Group marketing process 1. 2. 3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Identify potential groups in each category (see “prospect list” under the “materials” section below). Find the right contact person. If you reach out to the wrong person, you’ll lose a ton of valuable time. Call the group and find out who makes the decisions on group activities. It’s always better to introduce the Studio in a personal phone call rather than an email. Then the group leader can tell how exactly how they choose events, what to send, and when to follow up. a. If the group doesn’t really plan activities or isn’t interested in a group outing this year, ask if they would be willing to send out an email to publicize the Studio to their members. They may be very happy to promote a new nonprofit arts organization. i. Always ask them if you can contact them next season and find out exactly when you should get in touch. b. If they’re interested, send a followup email with the group PDF attached and a link to the group page on your site. If you can’t find a phone number or get ahold of the group leader, send a personalized email. Address it to the group leader and include the group’s name in the message. The subject line should be shorter than 50 characters; use something like ‘Theater night for ABC Group Name”. Send all of the emails from individual members’ accounts, not a generic email address. Include the address, phone number and URL of the group ticket page as well as the home page. The toughest part of the process is FOLLOWUP. Group leaders are busy and they don’t always have the time or motivation to set up another event. Be kind and be persistent … you may need to contact them a number of times before they agree to set up a group night. As soon as they choose a night, add them to your group tracking board (see “tracking system” under “materials”.) Keep it current so you don’t oversell the evening.

Materials you’ll need A prospect list. Divide up research responsibilities among a small group of volunteers/members. Use Google, phone books, online listings and personal knowledge to build your prospect lists. Good categories: University alumni clubs; sorority alumnae clubs; social societies/clubs;

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church activity groups; active senior groups; companies. Information to capture: Organization name, website, address, contact person name, contact email, contact phone, and a priority field to indicate whether this looks like a large, very active group. You’ll be adding data to this list all the time. You may want to break up the categories and let the volunteer own their own spreadsheet. Next season you could move everything to an online tracking system (called “Customer relationship management”) so everyone can easily access their records, send emails directly from the system, send reminders to themselves, etc. (Small business CRM can start for as little as $39 per month per user.)

A group ticket brochure (PDF and printed version) You’ll email this brochure to your prospects, include it on your website, and hand it out in the theatre. It should include: •

• • • •

A list of all the ‘group-worthy’ productions for the rest of the season. You want to focus on the major productions that will generate the most interest; don’t distract them with everything. Include a description of the production – really sell it! Include all of the dates so they can easily compare your schedule to what they’re already doing. Add information about any “value-add” things you’ll offer – discounts at a restaurant, pre-event talk with the director, etc. Include a group ticket order form where you capture the name of the group, the number of seats, the total amount due and the payment method. It would also help to ask for a list of the individuals who are attending along with their email addresses – you’ll collect more valuable names and they’ll be able to pick up their tickets individually.

Print these brochures in small batches so that as productions come and go, you can remove them from the piece. You can create the brochure in Word and use a free PDF software (www.pdf995.com) to convert to a PDF that you can send via email.

An introductory letter / email to the group leader. If you don’t have a contact name, call and find out who schedules the events. It’s best to start with a phone discussion, then follow up and send the letter and flier.

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A group page on your website. This page would contain the same info as the brochure but presented in the body copy of the page. It would also have a strong “CALL NOW FOR DETAILS” call to action and a prominent link to download the brochure. This page is your “landing page” – when you send out emails to groups, this is the link you’ll send. You’ll also attach the PDF brochure.

A graphic to promote group tickets on the site Same concept as the season pass graphic – create an image that links to the detail page, then add it throughout the site.

An email they can send to members just to promote the Studio. If they don’t want to plan an event but are willing to send out a message to everyone, you’ll want to craft that message so they can just forward it. Include your 3 biggest upcoming events, a link to your site, and a strong message to encourage them to join you.

“Reserved” signs for seats. Put the name of the group on the signs.

A flier in restrooms and hallways. Let your patrons know that they can bring a group to a future show – tell them to pick up the group ticket brochure at the front.

A tracking system – bulletin board, Excel spreadsheet, etc. You’ll need to let everyone know how many groups are attending different shows and how many people they will bring. If a large group is attending one night, you may not have room for another large group.

Resources you’ll need A group marketing team Group marketing takes a great deal of time, but you absolutely need to be doing it. They will need to commit to: •

Researching groups, including finding the right individual contact person

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• • • •

Initial contact with group leader Continued followup Capturing $$ Fulfillment – make sure their group seats are reserved, that any value-add items are fulfilled, greet them, follow up to make sure their experience was terrific

If you ask each board member to bring in 3 groups, you’ll have 45 right off the bat (15 * 3 = 45.)

Designer to create the brochure & order forms* They don’t have to be elaborate, but they do need to convey your brand personality traits and use the same visual style that you’ll use on your site and other printed materials (same fonts, colors, imagery). The designer can also create a graphic to promote group sales on your website. Note that these materials will need to be revised periodically – you’ll need to remove productions that have passed, then create a new PDF to load onto the site. * Could be a BVA volunteer who agrees to create everything with a consistent look & feel.

Webmaster will need to update the web page As with the brochure, it will be important to remove productions that have ended.

Individual production tickets As I’ve outlined, when you pre-sell your tickets to season ticket holders and groups, you lower your reliance on walk-up tickets for each production. You’ll still want to promote new productions through the media, website, newsletter, etc., but you won’t need to spend as many valuable resources getting the word out about a short individual show. The 2006-07 budget does not allocate any funds to advertising. In the years to come, you’ll be able to invest in print and maybe radio spots to promote your larger shows & events. For now, you need to rely on publicity, search engine marketing, email campaigns, newsletters and other grassroots efforts – what we refer to in your 2006-07 goals as your “ticket marketing engine.” I’ve also provided a week-by-week timeline for promoting individual shows in a later section of this marketing plan.

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Building your database It’s important to try and collect the following information from as many of your patrons as possible: • • • • • • • • • •

Name Email address Home phone number Address Age Age of any children Checkbox: Yes, add me to your email and print newsletter lists Checkbox: Yes, I’m interested in season passes – please contact me. Checkbox: Yes, I’m interested in bringing a group to a show – please contact me. Checkbox: Yes, I’m interested in adult or children’s acting classes

Pass out a form like this with EVERY PROGRAM. It needs to be in your patrons’ hands for them to feel compelled to fill it out and hand it in; if you just ask them to pick one up at the front, most people won’t. Encourage them to fill it out in your pre- and post-show speeches, and make a sign for your basket so they know exactly where to put their completed forms. You’ll need to keep this information in a central location. Since you’ll also be storing your season pass patrons and your group ticket contacts, you’ll need to cross-reference and make sure you don’t have duplicate entries. You also need to be able to easily update their contact info. I recommend requesting a BVA volunteer to help you set up a tracking system for all of the information you’ll be capturing. It should be simple and easy to use; there are inexpensive software products that a volunteer can help you set up and train you to use. (I highly recommend Filemaker Pro – it offers a great deal of pre-formatted database templates that a volunteer can easily modify, and the software is very easy to use.)

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Website goals Your website can be an extremely powerful marketing tool – if it sells! As you continue developing the site and using it to reach your community, here are the keys to your long-term success: 1. Generate ‘organic’ traffic – people who find your site when looking for things to do 2. Convert visitors into community members. When people come to your site, you want them to keep coming back or at least give you their contact info so you can reach out to them with info about your events. 3. Stand out from your competitors. Provide enough content so that the press, donors and patrons will believe that you’ll provide a great experience and will want to attend, donate and write about you. 4. Generate $$! Make sure it’s easy for people to buy any type of ticket or to donate/volunteer.

How to stand out from your competitors The Arizona Republic recently reported that there are 60 theatre organizations in the Phoenix area. That’s a lot of competition. In addition, your competitors include concerts, movie theatres, Blockbuster, dining out, and a myriad of other entertainment options. Your site can help a great deal in differentiating you from this competition. 1.

Include as much content as you can. More content says that you have more going on, and that’s appealing for patrons. (It also helps you generate more traffic from search engines.) 2. Offer an intimate look behind the scenes. 3. Create a community 4. Include photos of productions, people having fun, the theatre, the key people … humanize yourselves as much as possible.

Site look and feel Your site needs to convey your brand personality traits: • • • • •

Stimulating Engaging Inviting Authentic Accessible

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The new site is evolving nicely but does need the attention of a professional web designer to inject it with a consistent, professional design that fulfills these traits. It should use the same color palette and graphic style as all of your printed materials. I recommend asking a board member or for a BVA volunteer to help you define your visual branding requirements and create some graphics that you can use on the site and in all of your printed materials. (See the “Branding” section for more info.) Also, since your patrons will typically be 45+, it’s important to make sure the page design is very clean and highly readable when using the larger text sizes in their browser. The site should be compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0+, Firefox, and Apple’s Safari browser. Find a volunteer that uses each browser and ask them to thoroughly test the site each time you update it.

How to generate organic traffic A recent nationwide poll showed that 70-80% of people use search engines when looking for entertainment options. While your target market is older and more prone to using traditional media (i.e. the entertainment listings in the newspaper or favorite local magazines), search engine usage will continue to grow in the season and years ahead and is a viable low-cost marketing option for you. However, it’s a long and hard effort to rank highly in search engine results, and a full-time marketing manager could spend 50% or more of his/her time on these types of programs. For this season, I recommend using a few popular “Search Engine Optimization” tactics. Mary Lutz or another web-savvy member can tackle these for you. Next season, you can devote more energy to these types of programs; they’re considerably less valuable to you at this time than getting members on the phones to sell season and group tickets.

Search Engine Optimization (“SEO”) To rank highly in search engine result, you’ll need to focus in two areas: 1. Generate high-quality inbound links to the site. 2. Optimize your site so search engine spiders love it. How to generate high-quality inbound links to the site Search engines think that sites with plenty of quality links MUST be more valuable than those that don’t. If you put up a great site but nobody links to it, search engines won’t think it’s valuable. Linkbuilding is a long-term effort and includes activities like

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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

*Registering with the most important search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) *Registering with free directories and wikis *Getting your link added to local sites *Distributing your press releases via the online news wires *Creating a blog and getting listed in blog directories *Getting other members of the arts community to link to you (including members, other theatres, directors, producers, etc – everyone who has some type of involvement with you) 7. Creating new content that is worth linking to, then going out and asking for those links This season, I recommend doing a few things in each of the asterisked categories. I will provide you with a login to the product my company has created (www.MarketingMO.com) and you can download our “how-to” materials to help you through each of these items. 1. Make sure Google, Yahoo and MSN have indexed your site. 2. Submit your site to DMOZ (http://dmoz.org) once it’s finished and has a number of productions listed in it. Also submit to some of the new “yellow pages” wikis under the Phoenix > Arts organizations category (or similar). 3. Make sure you’re listed on all of the local theatre, arts, and general entertainment directories. 4. Add all of your press releases to the press area of your site (see the “publicity” section for details) and send them out via Prweb (see publicity as well). 5. Create a blog and have the producer of each show make sure that there are new posts added when you announce a show, cast it, start rehearsals, etc. It will operate as more of a newsletter than a journal, and you can use it instead of a traditional email newsletter. See “blog” later in this section. 6. Get all of your members and industry colleagues to link to your site. You can include outgoing links to their sites as well, but search engines care about inbound links, not outbound links. In fact, “reciprocal” links negate each other to most search engines. Links are valuable to your site visitors who want to learn about your performers, but if your primary goal is to rank more highly in search engine results, try to get inbound links without giving out a lot of outbound links.

How to optimize your site itself so search engine spiders love it. Search engine spiders (like the “Googlebot”) are programs that crawl the web and read the code for each web page they find. (They can usually crawl the entire web in a month.) They visit your site, read the content and decide what your site is about. It’s important to build and manage your site so you get the most bang out of every spider’s visit. 1.

Spiders love blogs because they’re updated so frequently. If your site has a blog, the spiders will visit more often and “read” your new content more frequently. Then when you add a new production, you have a chance for spiders to read it more quickly.

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2. Your home page is the most important page on your site. It needs at least a few paragraphs of text and keywords, not graphics, which spiders can’t read. (They can read the title of the graphic but nothing in the graphic itself.) 3. Identify and use targeted keywords in the URLs, page titles, headlines and links in your site – those are the most valuable words the spider reads. 4. Include a press section and add text versions of all of your press releases – the added content is valuable and keeps the spiders coming back. (Spiders don’t read PDFs – they need each release to be set up as an individual page with the body copy typed right in.) Again, when you’re ready to tackle these issues, I’ll provide you with a Marketing M.O. login so you can learn how to identify keywords, use them in the site, etc.

Resources you’ll need A Studio volunteer like Mary Lutz could tackle the basic tasks I’ve outlined in about 20 hours. If you wanted to do more than the minimum, you could ask the BVA for a search engine marketing volunteer or offer an internship to the ASU business school – it’s a great opportunity for someone who is learning about internet marketing. A volunteer or intern could spend a few hours a week, but an intern will need instruction and guidance that you just can’t provide this year. I’d stick with the minimum requirements and/or request a BVA volunteer who can work independently and help you tackle the most important items on your list; remember, your team should really be focusing on selling packaged tickets versus devoting a lot of time to search engine marketing.

Build community through a blog When people come to your site, you want them to KEEP coming back – a tall order for a small local (and new) theatre organization. By doing so, you can turn a single-event patron into a season ticket holder or a group coordinator. While you may not make significant inroads in this area during your first season, your site can play a major effort in selling these types of packages in the years to come; creating a community is the first step. Your key to success: Offer something really intriguing that spikes their interest and is constantly evolving. There are really two ways to do so: 1.

Encourage them to sign up for an email newsletter. The newsletter would keep them posted about upcoming productions, classes, lectures, etc.

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2. Get them to subscribe to updates on a blog you publish on your site. “Blog” means different things to different people. Think of it as a publishing platform that lets you post news, promotional info, commentary, ideas, funny stories, etc. about what’s going on with each of your productions and your organization as a whole. If executed consistently, a blog would set you apart from other local arts organizations and give your community members a chance to ask questions and get the “behind the curtain” look at your operation. And since your goal is to build a bridge between the community and your theatre, a blog is an excellent way to do so. The week-by-week promotional plan (at the end of this marketing plan) includes tips for using the blog to post articles about upcoming productions and events, which gives you lots of content that’s updated frequently – a good draw for repeat visitors. Better yet, a blog can double as your email newsletter program – they become one and the same. It’s very time-consuming to publish an email newsletter – you need 1.

An email service provider/platform to send the messages (you can’t just send them from Outlook – they’ll end up in your recipients’ spam boxes) and manage your email lists (subscribes, unsubscribes, address updates, etc.) 2. An HTML template for your newsletter 3. Someone to write all of the content and send out the newsletter every other week or every month For a small organization like yours, I recommend using the blog instead of an email newsletter. To do so, you can use a service like Feedblitz (www.Feedblitz.com), which automatically sends out blog posts via email to your subscribers – and it’s free. All you do is post the blog article and Feedblitz does the rest.

Setting up the blog Mary Lutz or another web-savvy member can easily set up your blog as well as your Feedblitz email delivery service. 1.

There are many free or low-cost blog software tools you can use to add a blog to your site. You’ll need one that works with your current site configuration – here’s a quick list of options: http://weblogs.about.com/od/weblogsoftwareandhosts/a/topfreeblogs.htm. It should be hosted on your site with a URL such as www.theatreartistsstudio.org/blog. Most blog platforms have most or all the functionality you’ll need: • Page customization: You should be able to make the page look reasonably similar to your own site. • Simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor with the ability to upload photos, add bullets, and see exactly what the post will look like before publishing. It

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• • •

• • •

should also give you an HTML editing option so you can modify the code if needed. (It’s really easy to learn.) RSS feed (RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”): This is an XML (language) file that contains all of your content. People often use feed readers like Bloglines (www.bloglines.com) to pick up the RSS feed from blogs they like; Bloglines aggregates the feeds much like Outlook aggregates your email. Save to del.icio.us, Furl, Digg – These links appear below a post and allow a user to add the post to their favorite social bookmarking site. Some platforms include this code, but it’s easy for your programmer to add them – the code is available on the site for each service. Permalinks: Each blog post needs a permanent URL so that people can link to a single post Trackback: This is a feature that pings (sends a message to) another server to say that you’ve quoted another post. (We don’t have this feature and I wish we did.) Automatic pinging: Another one we don’t have, but our programmer added it. Every time you add a post, the software will automatically notify a variety of blog news services and tell them that your blog has been updated. Commenting: You want to be able to allow people to comment on a post. This feature should also use a spam filtering feature like an image that contains letters and numbers; otherwise, you may get hundreds of spam comments each day. Email notification: When someone enters a comment, you’ll want to know so you can approve it and respond. Multiple categories: This is helpful when you add a post that really belongs in more than one category. Archive: Articles should automatically move into a monthly archive once they’re pushed off the bottom of the page.

2. Sign up for a free Feedburner account (www.Feedburner.com) and then the Feedblitz account (www.Feedblitz.com). Feedburner gives you traffic reports and Feedblitz is a service that lets visitors sign up to get your articles via email. (75% of our readers choose the Feedblitz option over traditional blog readers like Bloglines). Both services have very good demos and I can answer questions for you when the time comes! 3. Ask your designer to add “social bookmarking chicklets” to the blog navigation area. People can click these icons to save your RSS feed to their favorite feed reader or favorite social bookmarking service. You’ll see them on my blog (www.marketingmo.com/blog) on the left side navigation bar. You can easily generate the code from a site like http://www.twistermc.com/shake/RSS-index.php -- you just checkmark the chicklets you want, enter the URL of the page, and the site will give you the code. 4. Add a few posts before you publish the blog on your site. That way it will have some content when it goes live.

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Marketing your blog Many bloggers hope to generate a living from ad revenue on their blogs, so they spend a ton of time reaching out to other bloggers, building their traffic, and figuring out how to generate even more traffic. When we launched our blog, I just followed the tips I read in all of their articles. Here are two good ones to get you started: 1. http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/04/the_120_day_won.html 2. http://weblogs.about.com/cs/blogpromotions/a/promoteblog.htm If you have a volunteer who is willing to do these types of things, then they can be extremely valuable. But it’s more important to use your volunteers to sell packaged tickets and try to generate local publicity, so don’t give up those resources to promote your blog. You can start promoting it next season when you have more resources.

Email marketing As I explained in the blog section, I recommend using your blog instead of a traditional email newsletter or email campaigns. With a blog plus an email delivery service like Feedblitz, you simply post an article or announcement on the blog and it will appear on your site AND go out via email to your subscriber list. You don’t have to worry about setting up a separate email service platform, HTML newsletter templates, and writing a series of article for an email newsletter; the blog gives you these capabilities and requires fewer resources.

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Fundraising Goals for this year: ! ! !

Get 5 new board members who are well-connected, love theatre and will be able to generate $30,000 in corporate and $40,000 in private donations Nurture donors so they will increase their donations next season Find a grant writer who can land $10,000 plus enough to cover his/her fee

Selling corporate sponsors Your board members will take on the task of landing new corporate sponsors. Here are some items to keep in mind as they do so.

Exposure Ultimately, sponsors care about exposure. It’s important to treat sponsor dollars not as a grant, but as an advertising opportunity. Your theatre is intimate and in early seasons, they’re not gaining a lot of eyeballs, but if you focus on making sure you give a sponsor as much exposure as you can and they will be more likely to support you. Here are a few ways to provide exposure for a corporate sponsor: ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Go after “season” sponsors instead of individual production sponsors. Shoot for 3 sponsors at $10,000 apiece. Print their logo and slogan on a high-quality banner (say 3x5 feet) and hang them on a prominent wall for an entire season. Include your sponsors on the front cover of every program. Include a personal “thank you” to the person who approved the sponsorship in the program notes area. Thank them in the opening speech for every show. Include them in the body text of every press release you send out, and include a footer about them as well. (They’ll be in the online versions on your website as well.) On your website, include their logos and links to their websites on each page that promotes a production. Include a “Sponsor” section on your website. Write a paragraph about each sponsor with a quote from the person who approved the sponsorship. Include that person’s picture if s/he allows – you want to promote these people and really make them feel like a part of the organization.

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! !

Ask the sponsor if s/he would like to share any thoughts about your productions in your blog. Add a ‘thank you’ to the sponsors every time you add a blog post about a new production.

Deal structure As a new organization, you won’t be able to provide sponsors with critical numbers such as attendance statistics or audience demographics. A sponsor is going to agree to sponsor you because 1) they have a relationship with the board member who is going after the sponsor, or 2) because they strongly believe in what you’re doing and want to support you. Make it as easy as possible for them to say yes to a sponsorship. In your early years, you’ll need to sweeten the deal as much as possible. So in addition to providing as much exposure as you possibly can, include as many tickets as you can get them to purchase. ! ! !

!

Find out how many employees, clients, VIPs, etc. the company has locally. Suggest that they reserve the entire theatre for a night, or give them a large block of tickets to several successive nights. Create a very special experience for these groups. Add extra signage to welcome them to the theatre. Welcome them at the beginning of the show. Then invite them to stay for a dessert reception afterward with a Q&A with the director, producer, and performers. You could also include some passes to acting classes that they can use as “thank yous” to people in their organization who would appreciate that type of gift.

The idea is to build a package that includes: ! ! !

As many tickets as possible to your productions Tickets to other events during the season Typical sponsor benefits

To price the sponsorship, add up the cost of the tickets that you’ve included (at full price), then add the “sponsorship fee” to the top. (Your 2006-07 goal is $30,000 total.) Show this total to the sponsor along with a detailed list of everything they gain, but don’t put a subtotal against each line item. You want them to think in terms of the entire package and everything they gain.

Materials & resources you’ll need ! ! ! ! ! !

New board members to go after sponsors! Sponsorship contract A proposal that includes: An introduction to your purpose A brief history Your 2006-07 calendar

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! !

An explanation of what you will provide for their sponsorship and the cost Photos, member lists, and any other materials that can help get a sponsor excited about your organization and what you’re doing for the community

Renewal process Don’t think about sponsors and donors in terms of a single transaction. Once you’ve obtained that first check, it’s just the beginning of what you hope will be a long and beautiful relationship! Your second fundraising goal for the year is to define a “nurturing” process to help you retain donors and sponsors. Here are a few ideas to get you started: ! ! ! ! !

!

!

Make sure you’ve designated someone to handle donor & sponsor nurturing. It needs continued commitment and someone needs to own it! If it’s a sponsor, make sure they see and approve all of the materials that have their information on it. Don’t let a typo or incorrect graphic mar your relationship. Genuinely thank these people as much as you can. Place a personal phone call the day after the event or donation comes in. Talk with them about what their $$ will help you do. Keep up the relationship by keeping them posted about how you’re using their money. People donate to feel good about the impact those dollars are making. Keep showing them the impact and they’ll be more likely to keep sending the checks. Keep track of their attendance at your functions. If they haven’t been to a show in 6-8 weeks, call them and let them know you’ve set aside a few tickets. Do the same for corporate sponsors; you want them to feel as if they’re personally invited into your community. Do something special for all of your donors and sponsors every few months. Invite them to a post-show dessert party at a restaurant nearby.

Grants It’s common for nonprofits to retain grant-writers to apply for grants and include their fees in the grant request. However, it’s also common to “get what you pay for” when you use this tactic. I recommend requesting help from the BVA (Business Volunteers for the Arts) – they may be able to help you 1) identify a qualified grant-writer or 2) give you template materials, grant lists, etc. to help a board member or other volunteer to tackle this activity.

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Publicity Your goals for the 2006-07 season: ! ! !

Build relationships with 5 key media contacts Execute a consistent media relations campaign for each show Reach out directly to potential patrons to generate buzz

Building relationships with the media Your goal for the year is to build a relationship with five (5) media folks who will write about you and promote you regularly. To get started, identify 15 potential targets from a variety of media outlets – magazines, newspapers, TV and radio. Call them, introduce yourself and the Studio, and ask them for their help. Instead of asking them to write about you, ask them for an hour of their time to share their expertise with you. Ask them to lunch or breakfast to talk about the local arts scene; ask them to give you ideas and feedback to help you build interest in your organization and your productions. If they politely decline, ask them if they can give you any advice for crafting stories that will interest them as a journalist. Then ask them if you can send them press releases and call them from time to time to let them know what you’re up to. Finally, ask them how they prefer to receive press releases (i.e. email or fax) and make sure you have all of their correct information. Follow up with these people regularly. If you come across another organization or something you think will interest them as a writer, send them an email; if you help them do their jobs, they’ll be more interested in what you’re doing.

Media list Build your media contact list to include all of the writers and editors from every publication you can find in the Phoenix metro. Include all of the small neighborhood newspapers and magazines, particularly in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, the 51 corridor and North Phoenix. Here is a partial list: Newspapers • Arizona Republic • Ahwatukee Foothills News • Northeast Phoenix Times

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Magazines • Outlook Arizona • North Valley Magazine • Phoenix Echo (lifestyle: gay

Radio Stations • KFYI AM 550 (FOX / CBS) • KJZZ FM 91.5 (NPR) • KTAR AM 620

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• • • •

Arizona Business Gazette Business Journal of Phoenix Phoenix New Times Scottsdale Airpark News

Websites • AZCentral.com • AZReporter.com

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

& lesbian) Jewish News of Greater Phoenix Phoenix magazine Scottsdale magazine Phoenix Home & Garden Desert Living AZ Food and Lifestyles 944 Scottsdale 101 Arizona Woman Echo Magazine ITEM Raising Arizona Kids Scottsdale Magazine SLAM (Support Local Arts & Music) Today's Arizona Woman Scottsdale Airpark News

• • •

KTAR FM 92.3 KFNN AM 1510 KBAQ FM 89.5

TV Stations • KNXV TV 15 (ABC) • KPHO TV 5 (CBS) • KPNX TV 12 (NBC) • KSAZ TV 10 (FOX) • KTVK TV 3 (IND) • KUTP TV 45 (MYTV)

Story ideas I’ve provided production-focused story ideas in the “week by week timeline” list at the end of this marketing plan. You should also generate a list of newsworthy stories about your organization itself. Here are a few to get you started: 1.

“Call for producers” story. So many successful businesspeople dream of producing a play and getting involved in the arts. At the Studio, they can make those dreams happen. They can produce a play that’s already on your slate or even start from scratch to find and package their own material. Talk about what skills & experience are most important for a successful producer and what a person needs to do to get the process rolling with you. (Pitch this one directly to journalists; if none of them bite immediately, send out a press release with the key story points to everyone on your media list.) 2. The “workout space” concept: Flesh out a story that talks about how the Studio helps its members improve their skills. Good story for a feature writer. 3. Trials of a new arts organization: Feature writers may also be interested in exploring the first year in the life of a new nonprofit arts organization – the challenges they face, how they try to reach out to potential patrons, etc. 4. Season pass program: Send out a release announcing that you’ve created a season pass; outline the productions that are in it and the cost.

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5. Group program: Same idea as above – send out two weeks later. You never know when a publication may include a blurb. Include the fact that it’s a great experience for small to midsize companies / client groups – a business publication may run a blurb about you.

Tips for writing press releases Use the “Press Release Worksheet” and “Studio Press Release Template” we created in October 2006. We also created a “Press Event Checklist” and an “Event Listing” template in September. (There are print copies in this binder as well.)

Distributing releases on the web Use the “Press Release Worksheet – Web Version” we created in October 2006. (There’s a print copy in this binder.)

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Branding Goals for 2006-07: ! ! !

Define our brand Bing our brand to life in all visual materials we produce Bring our brand to life in all of our connections with our community

Brand promise & personality traits In our November 2006 branding session, the board decided that the Studio should represent these five personality traits: • • • • •

Stimulating Engaging Inviting Authentic Accessible

The board didn’t define a single “brand promise” that captures all of these traits. However, all of these traits seem to evoke the idea of a brilliant dinner party host – a person who creates a stimulating, engaging, warm atmosphere in which all guests feel welcome and walk away saying “wow, what an interesting experience.”

Your productions and your brand The first step in bringing your brand to life is through your productions. As you review plays and events for your schedule, consider whether they fulfill your five personality traits.

Visual branding recommendations You also carry out your brand promise visually in the theatre, on your website and in every piece of printed material.

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The first step is to select a single color that best conveys these traits. You can add a color or two to your palette, but keep in mind that using a broader palette dilutes the psychological impact of your primary color. The board didn’t discuss specific color choices but does agree on the psychological power that color conveys. They all received a list of color meanings (there’s a copy in the back pocket of this binder), and I recommend revisiting that list and deciding on a single color with one or two accents. You can then begin to apply the colors to all of your materials moving forward. I also recommend hiring a graphic designer (or using a BVA volunteer) to create a consistent visual design theme for all of your materials: • • • • • •

Your website (color scheme, web-safe fonts and graphics) Season ticket and group ticket brochures Programs used for your productions Other fliers you produce Press releases Emails and newsletters

Operational branding recommendations You’ll also want to make sure you convey your brand in every touch you have with patrons, the media, sponsors, donors, and other members of the community. Think about other ways you can make the entire experience more inviting, engaging and accessible for your patrons. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: •

• • •

Have members welcome patrons as they enter the theatre. Members can ask patrons if they’ve been to the Studio before and walk them into the seating area, point out the restrooms, etc. Outdoor signage can help the facility become more inviting & accessible. You can also add a “welcome” message to the front door. Play music in the theatre before and after your productions. If you have a post-show discussion, make sure patrons feel comfortable leaving beforehand if they don’t want to participate.

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Resources needed & budget 2006-07 goals: ! ! !

Build volunteer and internship programs to help with sales & marketing Give members the tools to promote our productions Find volunteer(s) to assist with accounting & general office duties

As I mentioned at the beginning of this marketing plan, you have an extraordinarily ambitious revenue goal for an organization with no full-time staff ($400,000 in revenue equates to at least 2 full time staff members) and a very small marketing budget ($18,000). However, here are a few suggestions for adding resources to your team in each area.

Budget This marketing plan doesn’t include any media advertising; it focuses on grassroots, low-cost marketing and assumes that funds will be used for sales literature, email delivery and other direct expenses. You have designated $18,000 for “marketing outreach.” I recommend using the bulk of those funds to compensate one or more independent contractors (could be members) who can help you with ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and/or publicity, depending on which areas you can cover with board members and other volunteers. Eventually these are activities that full-time staff members should handle; right now, use those funds to compensate people within your community for offering enough hours to help execute these programs. Here’s what you should reserve for items in this marketing plan: Printing & copying (fliers, signage, etc.) Website platform Feedblitz email delivery service Database software (Filemaker Pro) Total

$2,000 $600 $60 $200 $2,860

($50/month) ($4.95/month to include your logo)

The rest ($15,140) can be allocated to Studio members and referrals who are willing to help on a part-time basis instead of working on a 100% volunteer basis.

Sales resources needed 1.

Season tickets

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a. Ask every member to sell 3 season passes. 50 members * 3 passes = 150 passes; your goal is just 200. b. Make sure everyone who takes $$ at the door is trained to upsell a single attendee to a season pass. Do the same with every phone order. c. Someone will need to create & update the sales materials. (They should use template materials created by a professional designer – see “branding” below.) 2. Group tickets a. Ask board members to commit to finding 3 groups each. 15 board members * 3 groups = 45 groups, just 15 shy of your goal. b. It takes an ongoing effort to sell and service a group. Use your most committed board members and volunteers for this program. c. Someone will need to create & update the sales materials. 3. Individual production marketing a. The producer will be responsible for developing and distributing the materials, press releases, fliers, blog posts, etc. to market an individual production. b. Studio volunteers will need to handle: i. Website updates (adding new productions, adding press releases, making sure the blog is updated regularly, etc.) ii. Setting up the blog and Feedblitz publishing platforms iii. Setting up your patron database (good BVA project)

Fundraising resources needed 1.

Corporate sponsors a. You’ve indicated that you need to find 5 board members to take on this responsibility. 2. Nurturing donors and sponsors a. Make sure you identify one person to own this responsibility. 3. Grants a. Ask BVA for help in securing a grant-writer.

Publicity resources needed 1.

You’ll need a persistent, ongoing effort to generate publicity. I recommend using one great board member (i.e. Dan) to take on this task. 2. Your board members will know PR people in town; ask them to ask for a volunteer to help you strategize on story ideas, put you in touch with their contacts, and put in phone calls for you when you really need it. 3. I’ve provided tips for writing press releases, and it would help for you to find a volunteer with good creative writing skills to develop all of your releases – the traditional version and the web-optimized version.

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4. Your web content manager will need to post press releases on the site; she can also distribute them via Prweb.

Branding resources 1.

Ask for a volunteer (possibly BVA) graphic designer to help you define your visual branding requirements (colors, fonts, etc.) and create templates for fliers, graphics for brochures, etc.

General office resources You definitely need help with general office responsibilities and accounting; a BVA volunteer may be able to help.

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Week-by-week promotional timeline Note: We finished this section of the plan and delivered it to Dan, Charlotte & Carol as a standalone document called “Production Marketing Timeline” in November 2006 – this is the same content from that original document. This section offers a week-by-week list of key marketing activities for individual productions. You can refer to earlier sections of this marketing plan for detailed tips on activities like publicity, group ticket sales, etc.

Production dates & goals

Production name Run date(s) & times Date to start marketing (14 weeks out) Ticket price Goal: # of tickets* Goal: Revenue*

*For goals, please see the main budget

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Marketing Timeline 14 weeks out

[enter date]

Who?

Status

Group tickets: Identify the types of groups (clubs, churches, associations, organizations, companies, schools, etc.) who are natural fits for this production. If these new categories aren’t already in the master group marketing campaign list, research their contact information (group name, activities director name, phone number, personal email address, physical address, website). Group marketing materials: If you’re promoting this event alone, you’ll need a flier, signup and order form that you can send via email (PDF) and regular mail. (Normally you’ll promote all upcoming events so a group can choose.) Publicity: Brainstorm about creative stories the media could tell about this production, the people in it, the story itself, etc. What are some great stories you can promote the show and the people to journalists and the public? Sponsors: Identify potential corporate sponsors Sponsors: Brainstorm about other local media, education, arts or business community members who could be interested in copromoting the event

Other / notes:

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13 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group tickets: Call groups to let them know about the production and invite them to reserve a block of seats. Send information via email or mail; set a followup call. Publicity: Craft a press release to convince journalists that your upcoming production is worth writing about. Website: Add the production to your upcoming events area. Also add it to the group tickets page and the season pass page if relevant. Fliers: Check your season and group ticket fliers; add the production if needed. Sponsors: Contact potential sponsors and partners you’ve identified.

Other / notes:

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12 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group tickets: Ongoing marketing to groups. Publicity: Call media contacts to say hello and pitch any unique story ideas. Follow up with release and relevant materials. Publicity: Fill out an Event Listing form with as many details as possible; send to every calendar listing in all newspapers and local magazines. Publicity: Write a web-optimized version of your release and add to your website. Distribute via PRWeb as well. *Blog: Create a blog category for the production. Write a short post announcing that you’re doing the show and get your community excited about it. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts.

*When launched! Other / notes:

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11 weeks before

Who?

Status

Blog: Add a post from the producer, writer, director or even Carol with some more fun facts about the show. For example, tell everyone when auditions will be held and why the roles are terrific. Fliers: Make sure that the production is included in any fliers or other sales materials you’re distributing. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts.

Other / notes:

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As soon as any of these events take place: Who?

Status

Director hired: Add a blog post when a director is chosen (post it under the director’s name). Director can talk about vision, goals, excitement, etc. Also links to director’s bio. Ask the director to include a link to the Studio’s website on his/her own site, MySpace, etc. Casting completed: Send out a traditional & web-optimized press release when the show is cast. Post the release on the website along with headshots and photos; let the media know that they can download those materials on your site. (Include a link to the page that has those materials.) Casting completed: Ask each of the cast members to write 2 blog posts about their thoughts & experiences on the show. Spread them out so there are 1-2 new posts each week. Cast promotion: Ask cast members to include links to the show on any of their own websites.

Other / notes:

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10 weeks before

Who?

Status

Publicity: Brainstorm to see if you can come up with any new angles or publicity ideas. For any big ideas, do the following: 1. Put together a normal release 2. Gather any supporting materials (photos, headshots, music etc.) that journalists may need 3. Call key media contacts to pitch 4. Send out the normal release 5. Create a web-optimized version and add to website 6. Send out web-optimized version via PRWeb Group marketing: Keep going! All initial contacts should have been made; now you’re following up with groups, helping them decide what day to come, etc. Newsletter: Highlight the production in your email / print newsletter if you have one. Encourage people to reserve seats NOW. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts.

Other / notes:

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9 weeks before

Who?

Status

Guerilla tactics: Is there anything you can do to drum up more interest from the community, groups, etc.? Be creative ‌ think about ways you can get members out in the community to reach members of the audience for this production. Group marketing: Keep going! Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts.

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8 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Keep going!!! Blog: Add a few longer posts this week. It takes a while for search engines to pick up these posts. Ask readers to comment, ask questions of cast members/director, etc. Publicity: Send out releases for any key events (casting, etc.) Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts.

Other / notes:

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6 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Keep going!!! Blog: Add more posts this week – at least two. Really encourage readers to share their thoughts. Publicity: Update your Event Listing and re-send to all of the calendar listings in newspapers, magazines, etc. Member marketing: Create an email (no attachments, just links to the detail pages on your website) and ask all of your members to forward it to all of their family, friends, supporters. Send that email to your newsletter database as well. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts. Local businesses: Create fliers for local businesses to distribute for this production. Promote those businesses on your site as well (for example, a restaurant partnership).

Other / notes:

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4 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Keep going!!! 4 weeks left… Blog: Add more posts this week – at least two. Key constituents: Reach out via phone to important members of your community or people you’d like to be in your community. Ask them if they’d like to purchase tickets to the show. Get them to commit and give you a credit card #. Publicity: Call the media. Get another release out. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts. In your theatre: Start promoting this show at any events you hold from this point forward. Ask people to reserve their seats TODAY.

Other / notes:

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3 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Keep going!!! 3 weeks left… Blog: Add more posts this week – at least two. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts. In your theatre: Start promoting this show at any events you hold from this point forward. Ask people to reserve their seats TODAY. Paid search: If you’ll be using paid search for this show, set up a landing page with a strong call to action to get people to buy tickets immediately.

Other / notes:

Theatre Artists Studio Marketing Plan

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2 weeks before

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Keep going!!! 2 weeks left… Blog: Add more posts this week – at least two. Sponsors: Keep going on sponsor efforts. Prepare any materials you’ll need to fulfill their sponsorship. Publicity: Last big publicity push! Put out a great press release with rich detail about the show. Call and personally invite each member of the press to attend; ask them to RSVP and save them a great seat. Publicity: Write a web-optimized version of the press release; add to website and distribute via PRWeb. Paid search: If relevant, launch paid search campaign; monitor daily. Playbill: Create playbill. Make sure it matches the look & feel of the rest of your materials. Group & season fliers: Update these fliers and prepare to distribute them during the show.

Other / notes:

Theatre Artists Studio Marketing Plan

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FINAL WEEK

Who?

Status

Group marketing: Make all reserved signs for groups who will attend. Blog: Add several posts this week, even after the show has started. Sponsors: Final prep for the show. Publicity: Last big publicity push! Put out a great press release with rich detail about the show. Write a web-optimized version; add to website and distribute via PRWeb. Paid search: If relevant, launch paid search campaign; monitor daily.

Other / notes:

Theatre Artists Studio Marketing Plan

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After show

Who?

Status

Brochures: Remove the show from the season & group brochures Website: Move the production to the archive. Remove the show from the season & group pages. Paid search: Stop the campaign! Measure final results and document any learnings for the next campaign. Publicity: Call members of the press who promoted the show and personally thank them. Ask for their feedback and how you can improve. Groups: Call group leaders and thank them for coming. Ask for feedback and how you can improve. Fliers at businesses: Pick them up and replace them with new ones! Thank business owners.

Theatre Artists Studio Marketing Plan

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Marketing Plan for a New Nonprofit Theater