There’s a bittersweetness to the phrases “word of mouth” and “buzz”. They’re wildly important in marketing a show, but where do they come from? It had to come from somewhere: was it an ad someone saw and then mentioned to a friend, or? We always used to love getting audience surveys back: “How did you hear about us?” Word of mouth wa the favourite frustrating response because it’s incredibly hard to track it, followed closely by “ad in right-wing newspaper” that we didn’t advertise in.
Good article here on generating word of mouth advertising.
The Toronto Fringe just closed this weekend, and it is an excellent example of an event tha relies heavily on word of mouth – “What are you seeing?” “What’s good?” “What do you recommend?”
These are questions asked of everyone – friends, colleagues, critics, strangers – and everyone has something to say. From the article: “It’s one of the most credible forms of advertising because a person puts their reputation on the line every time they make a recommendation and that person has nothing to gain but the appreciation of those who are listening.”
Aside: folks, this was a bad year for the flyer “fling and walk”. Drives me INSANE. I am sitting right here, don’t fling flyers in front of me on the table and walk away. They are now safely shuffled into the hundred other flyers already ON the table and now I don’t particularly care about you or your show and I have no interest in seeing it. You’ve managed to do the opposite of engage me. If you’ve hired someone to do the fling…tell them part of distribution is talking to people about the show.
So when you know you’ve got “word of mouth” happening and the “buzz” is insane, how do you maintain it?
Give people even more to talk about. Find out who is word of mouthing about your show and get onside with them. Find your influencers, the folks who saw the show and loved it, loved you, love love you can feel the love – and give them even more to love. People will talk for ages about a show they love – give them the tools to do so. I’m not saying fling a flyer at them, but telling them your advance tickets are nearly sold out gives them the impetus and a sense of urgency to tell other folks to get their tickets too.
Get a testimonial. Highlight their comment on the show Facebook page. Tweet that this is what folks are saying about your show – we all immediately post critical opinions, but when regular patrons are raving – share that with others.
Find the like-minded folks to your raving fans. Tell them about the show. Always ensure what you have for info is easily found – it’s one thing to hear the name of a show one evening, it’s another to remember it and where it’s playing when you’re looking it up the next day. Make sure your website, social media forums, you name it are up to date and ready to be found. Be your own Amazon, in a sense – “if so and so liked this show, then I bet such and such will too.”
I talked myself hoarse about shows I liked every night at the Fringe Club. I hope your friends, fans, family and folks will be doing the same for your future productions.