I want people to go see the shows I am producing. Traditionally that means advertising to let people know that a) the show is playing somehwere, b) it is a show people must go see, and c) how to get tickets. As you may have seen from the All My Sons quote ad, letting people know what critics think is and has been a way to persuade people to believe your show is worth seeing. But in today's world, who do consumers trust? In a survey by the Broadway League (producers and theater owners) the number one influencer of ticket purchases was word of mouth. The major influences people responded to in television advertising were, clips from the show, and testimonials from other theater goers. It has always been my belief that people don't believe you when you tell them how great your show is or how much other people have enjoyed it. They believe it when they hear it from someone they trust. Print advertising, while seemingly necessary, is really only a reminder that the show exists, radio the same, TV has more potency. But with DVR's and fast forwarding through commercials, even TV advertising has lost its luster.
On the other side of the coin is creating perception. By that I mean, putting out into the ether, the idea that your show is a must see, a once in a lifetime event, a smash hit, whatever you want to project. This can be achieved through advertising and marketing initiatives, but can be very expensive. Of course, if it's true, then it won't cost as much. In a recent meeting about advertising for a currently running show, the subject of advertising on TV was brought up. The budget for advertising had some unspent money and the question was wether to spend it on TV or not. With sales strong, the thinking is to save the money for if and when we may need it to boost ticket sales. However, another point was brought to the table. That is, when strong, why not project and reinforce that strength by perpetuating the perception through further marketing and advertising. You may recall how Jersey Boys started off with good reviews and strong sales, but instead of just sitting on their hands and reveling in success, they bought print, TV, radio and outdoor advertising constantly reinforcing the idea that they were the hit show on Broadway. It worked for them as they won the Tony Award for Best Musical and have been sold out week after week ever since. The one problem with advertising is that you cannot quantify the results. There is no way to track the success of a print ad, radio, or TV campaign.
I leave you with a quote from a friend who reached out to me yesterday.
"Advertising used to be able to persuade. Now viral and social networking influences." Christopher Ryan