10 Simple Steps To Start Internet Marketing Your Show.

You’re probably smart enough to know that the internet is where you’re supposed to be if you’re trying to market your show.

But are you smart enough to have started?

If you are one of those Producers or Playwrights who always meant to get around to understanding the internet but haven’t quite got around to it, don’t worry, you’re not alone.  I know a bunch of players in the Broadway arena who still haven’t picked up the ball yet.  

To help you get into the game, I consulted with my web-guru, Jamie Lynn Ballard (who makes all of my sites so pretty), and we came up with the following 10 Simple Steps to Start Internet Marketing Your Show.  These tips work for Broadway shows, Off-Broadway show, Off-Off Broadway shows and everything in between.  In fact, this list is even more helpful for the smaller shows.  Apply the majority of these tips and you can make your show seem a lot bigger than it is.

Ready?  Here we go.


10 Simple Ways to Start Internet Marketing Your Show

1. Buy Your Domain Name

You’ve heard me say this before, but this is the most important thing you can do when you start plans for a show.  As soon as you have an idea, make sure you snatch up the domain, because if you don’t, someone else will.  Use a site like GoDaddy that sells domains and hosts websites, so you can buy and build in the same place.  And get a starter site for your show up as fast as you can.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have all the relevant info yet.  The sooner you can put up your site, the sooner it will show up in search engines, and that means free traffic.   

2.  Know SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is one of the most important things you can learn about internet marketing.  Do it right, and you’ll stand out like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput.  Ignore it, and you’ll fall to the bottom of the web sea.  What you should know is that as technical as it sounds (why are all acronyms scary?), there are basic strategies that are very simple, so don’t be scared.  Pick up a book and get started.  

3.  Build Your List

I’ve spoken on three internet marketing panels in the last six months and in the wrap up section one panelist always said, “The most important thing a web marketer can do is increase the quantity and the quality of his/her opt-in list.”  Email Marketing allows you to build relationships with fans, promote your show, sell tickets and more.  Put a sign-up box on your website to collect email addresses, and send occasional emails to your list with information and updates about your show to keep them engaged.  Use a company like Benchmark to make it easier for you (Constant Contact is so 2005).  It seems so old school, I know, because this is what internet marketers were telling everyone ten years ago, but let me tell you first hand, that an effective marketing email blast is one of the most important tools you have in your show’s marketing tool box.

4.  Invest in PPC

PPC, or Pay-Per-Click Advertising, is one of the most economical and low-risk ways for you to reach customers.  If you aren’t yet ranking high in Google organic search results (and even if you are), pay-per-click advertising gives you a way to appear alongside the sites that are.  Don’t have a lot of cash to spend?  Don’t worry, Google Adwords and other PPCers let you set a cap on how much you want to spend per day.  Tip:  PPC works best when you have a very specific target demographic (e.g. bachelorette parties for The Awesome 80s Prom).  PPC can get pretty involved when you start talking Quality Scores, etc., but it’s worth learning, because it can put butts in the seats and bucks in the box office fast.

5.  Be Social.

Create profiles for your show on social networking sites, like BroadwaySpace, Facebook, and Youtube (if you have video content). Your presence on social media sites may or may not help you sell tickets right away, but if that’s where your audience hangs out, your show should, too.  Make sure you keep these sites filled with content.  No one likes an outdated social networking page.  It’s like the guy on your block who never cuts his lawn.

6.  Tie Your Sites Together With Twitter.  

Twitter is the twine of social media.  By using this microblogging site you can quickly communicate with all your fans.  You can also find new ones by prowling the Twitterverse searching for keywords that fit your show (doing Romeo and Juliet? Look for people tweeting “Shakespeare”).  Once you have them in your world, use Twitter to point people to your website, social networking pages, or blog posts.

7. Blog

In addition to providing you with another channel to interact with your audience, blogs are search engine magnets.  Pick a topic, sign up to a blog site like Typepad, and start blogging.  Keep SEO strategies in mind as you go.  Oh, and remember one thing.  Before you start, eat your fiber.  Your blog doesn’t have to be updated hourly or daily, but it does have to be regular.  Think of it like a daytime talk show.  Every day, same time, same network . . . yours.

8.  Be Your Own Press Agent.

Write and publish articles and press releases about your own shows.  Publish your stuff with sites like GoArticles or EzineArticles, and take it to the next level with a site like PRWEB.  PRWEB allows you to submit your news releases to search engines, news sites, content syndicators, and RSS feeds.  This is one of the fastest ways to increase incoming links (or ‘link population’), which will improve your credibility with the search engines.

9.  Analyze This!

The #1 rule of marketing is to test and then test again.  Just like in grade school, you didn’t know how you were doing until you saw your report card, right?  Get your web report card by signing up for Google Analytics.  Analytics is a free service that allows you to track and analyze your web traffic so that you can judge the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives and understand how visitors found you, what they like about your site, what they don’t like about your site, and what you can do to keep them coming back.  If you’re not looking at your metrics, it’s like going through school without ever knowing if you passed or failed.  You can’t get better without someone telling you how you’re doing.  Let Google school you.

10.  Be Submissive.

Search engines can be old-fashioned, and sometimes they like a formal introduction. If you’ve got a new site, take the time to submit it to search engines.  Hit the major ones (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.), of course, but take the time to look for specialized link directories and niche sites to submit your website for indexing.


For specific tips on starting a theater blog, click here.

The Four Goals of Internet Marketing.

In a post last week, I referred to my second goal of internet marketing . . . and then I realized I’d never spelled out any of those goals to you before.  Whoops-a-daisy.

So, here’s the horse following the cart:

Ken’s Four Goals Of Internet Marketing
First, it should be stated that the finish line for all marketing/advertising, etc. is to get people to complete a purchase . . . and to get them to complete that purchase as quickly as possible.
You want conversions, and you want them fast.
The four simple goals that I’m going to describe below are the Internet/Website goals that help get you to that finish line.
In other words, here is what you should be doing on your website, or with your internet marketing, to help sell your stuff.
  1. Get people TO your website. Web traffic is the only kind of traffic that’s good.  I’m surprised it’s even called traffic.  It should be called teraffic!

Not surprisingly, the best way to drive traffic is from online sources, rather than offline. It is exceptionally hard to get someone to visit a website from seeing a billboard, print ad or sticker on a lamp post, unless there is some compelling call out to visit that site (“Free Gold on www.getfreegold.com!”).

Remember, while lots of traffic is good, it’s qualified traffic that you really want.  You want people visiting your website that have a genuine interest in your product/show and are inclined to make a purchase, not just surfers.

For example, one of my most heavily trafficked sites is MyFirstTimeThePlay.com, thanks to a link on MyFirstTime.com (the site which provided the source material for the show).  That site gets oodles of traffic thanks to its “sex appeal,” and it sends a lot of folks our way from all over the world – and I’m pretty positive not one of them has bought a ticket.  Think about it this way.  If you’re having a birthday party, the people most inclined to give you a present will be the ones that know you.  You don’t want random people showing up just because they heard you were throwing a “rager.”  They are the ones who will trash the place and get the cops to come.  Sure, the bigger the party the better, but spend your time inviting quality guests.


  • Get people to STAY on your website as long as possible.The longer the “time on site” per visitor, the longer your marketing messages seeps into the visitor’s soul, and the more likely that visitor is going to make a purchase.  It’s like shopping at a mall.  Staring at the home page is like walking by and looking in a store’s window.  Clicking on some links is like going inside.  You gotta get those peeps inside and give them enough to do and look at until they find something so compelling that they can’t leave without taking something with them.

  • Get people to come BACK to your website.

    If a visitor doesn’t make a purchase, you want to make sure you get them back to that site as often as possible.  New content, special offers, and making sure you’ve captured their information so you can communicate all this new stuff is all essential.Keep them coming back, and coming back often, and you can increase the frequency and the number of impressions for free until they buy.If they’ve made a purchase, they’ve become even more important to you, because now they’re a potential advocate.  Repeat customers are hard to get in our industry, thanks to the price point and the lack of “updates” to what we’re selling.  But, I’d argue that we have more repeaters at shows in The Internet Age than we did before . . . because websites can re-energize and re-excite faithful customers about a product.  Make sure your site does just that.  Recharge that customer like he or she is a drained cell phone!
  • Get people to SHARE your website. The web can spread a message faster than any other form of communication.  And for a marketer, that’s exactly what you want (if it’s a good message).  Give your visitors the tools to do just that and encourage them.  You want your potential and past customers to talk about you, don’t you?  They will . . . but it’s your job to give them a megaphone so they can reach as many people as possible.


Those are my four primary goals.  To summarize:  TO the site, STAY on the site, BACK to the site and SHARE the site.

TO, STAY, BACK, SHARE.  Say it with me:  TO, STAY, BACK, SHARE.  (I’ll let you all figure out your own mnemonic device to remember it.  Mine has to do with back hair.)

How do you figure out if you’re accomplishing your goals?  Anyone with a website should have Google Analytics installed, tracking every movement that visitors make as they crawl across your pages.  Watch those stats regularly and make changes until the stats move more and more in your favor.

Here’s a stat that depressed me from Google themselves:  only 57% of online advertisers have used site analytics to evaluate their campaigns . . . and only 38% have used the data to inform their next steps.


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Only 16 Days until the 1st Theater Bloggers Social!
Thursday, April 23rd.
6 PM
Planet Hollywood
For more info and to RSVP, click here.