How to tickle and tease your audience before they get to the theater.

We talk a lot about what to do with your customers after they see your show.

But what can you do with them before they see your show?

Although advance ticket sales have declined over the years, there’s still a huge amount of people who do buy their tickets days, weeks, and months in advance.

If you had access to your customers’ information (!!), you could do all sorts of fun (and profitable) stuff to build their excitement and anticipation for the event.  You could tickle and tease them with all sorts of stuff like:

  • important plot/story information so they are more inclined to understand and therefore enjoy what they are going to see (The Coast of Utopia trilogy could have benefited from this).
  • parking and dinner recommendations (and collect commissions or advertising revenues from those partners).
  • offers for additional tickets if that performance isn’t selling out (since you bought 4 tickets, you can get a 5th for only $XX more).
  • a chance to buy the CD in advance to get them more familiar with the music.
  • teasers countdowns to build excitement (e.g. For Wicked, an email every week that says:  “The Wizard will see you in 13 days . . . “
  • Insert your thousands of other ideas here.

Done right, this kind of campaign could build enough fervor and excitement to make the actual show even more of an event.  You could actually start your word of mouth before your curtain went up and tickle your way to more ticket sales.

But take heed . . . building excitement, also builds expectations.  Your show better be a winner once you get that customer in the theater.

Because teasing an audience and then failing to deliver will give you a word-of-mouth whiplash you won’t be able to withstand.

  • One thing we’re adding to our website this year is something we’ve put in programs before, a full playlist of the music we use before, during and after our shows. We started putting that in programs because audiences kept asking about the music.
    So what’s the benefit of putting that info up on our website? Or even doing it ahead of time?
    One, we’re now an iTunes affiliate, so all of the songs will be linked to iTunes, and to playlists in iTunes, so that people can try them and buy them, and we get a little cut of that.
    Two, people get to know the music ahead of time. We don’t pick music at random, and we don’t just play an album straight as pre-show music. All of the songs are picked to set the mood and tie in with the themes and events of the play. While that usually has a good effect on the spot, it’s magnified when people already know the songs and can see how they connect, which enhances the experience.
    Third, it lets people peek behind the curtain in a new and different way. We’ll include “liner notes” to the playlists, explaining why we picked these songs, etc.
    I don’t know if this is unique, but I know I’ve never been to a show that provided that information. I’ve had to rely on memorizing a lyric or (thank you, iPhone) the Shazam program when it comes to finding and buying an unusual song I heard at a theatre production.

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