7 Tips for Selling PantoPaul Lewis
Sell Tickets For Your Panto With These Seven Tips
Oh Yes It Is!
Very few things are certain in the world of show business but one is the profit to be made on panto. Even so, you still need a good product and you need to market it well. As someone who has sold some of the most profitable and best attended pantomimes in the last few decades, I can help you sell more tickets for your panto.
Since the first wave of individual ticket buyers comes quite early, I recommend a major media launch before it goes quiet for the summer. Then a series of individual visits by the stars through the autumn. If you have no stars, you can still feed stories about the director planning unbelievable theatrical magic, the writer researching the true story behind the fairy tale or an actor overcoming a fear of heights to climb a beanstalk.
Get the news out as early as possible. Party bookers are the foundation of a successful panto and they start thinking about their Christmas outing in January. Remember, yours won’t be the only show in town, or if not your town certainly somewhere within reach of a 55 seater. You want the others to be behind you so email or write to them in January. And write to them again. And phone them. And invite them to the press launch.
More important than ever because traditional print or broadcast advertising is far less cost effective than it used to be but the online alternatives like social media have yet to deliver the numbers you need. Make sure you have masses of photos, interviews and short videos freely and easily available for download to the huge number of websites, social networks, magazines and newspapers that want to cover your panto.
You will need to advertise but do it sparingly and with a bang. Don’t throw your limited budget in every direction. Don’t even start until October, when the main booking period begins. Do use only the paid for papers that cover your town- free and fringe media won’t deliver the numbers. Take only a few ads but make them big so that they can’t be missed and because they say to the reader this is a major show worth seeing.
Use your strongest supporters to spread the word. Get the word out to supporters on Facebook and Twitter but also get everyone else involved in the show- cast, creatives, producers and your own staff- to do the same. Facebook advertising is giving a good return on investment at the moment because you can target in fine detail.
Your website has a key role to play so make sure you’re pushing that panto as hard as possible on the home page from the moment it goes on sale. Keep updating your entry with new photos (cast in costume, set designs) and, if at all possible, upload short video interviews.
There are many people who still get their information from a season brochure or a flier. Get your panto in the spring brochure, even if you don’t have much information. By the time of the autumn brochure you’ll need a double page spread. Get those fliers everywhere- bulk distributed, included in mailings of tickets, handed out at shows.
Pricing is covered on another page but note that if you price too high, no-one will buy a ticket, too low and you don’t make the margin you need. Pantomime is about numbers so it is better to keep the price down as low as is profitable and concentrate on selling high volume. As always, offer at least five prices (three if you have a small venue) to appeal to all pockets and attitudes. Plan discounts for early birds, last minute buyers, groups and less popular performances. As always, try to learn from what you do. The Panto Villain just spends money without knowing what works. The Principal Boy constantly experiments and monitors to find out what’s most cost effective.
If your panto isn’t selling as well as you hoped or if you’re selling panto for the first time, get in touch for a chat. I’m happy to offer some free advice. Just call 07946 981733 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written by Paul Lewis, owner of the marketing consultancy Seven Experience and former Head of Marketing and Operations at The Mayflower Theatre and former Marketing Manager at Theatre Royal Winchester. You can connect with him on Google+ and LinkedIn.