The New Chichester Theatre Brochure Analysed

Chichester Festival Theatre Brochure

There’s a debate on LinkedIn about the value of printed brochures. The new Chichester Festival Theatre brochure which came through my letterbox this week shows exactly what a good brochure can do.

It’s not that the CFT doesn’t use other media. ‘Friends’ who pay for priority booking and others, like me, on the theatre’s email list have already received information and may have booked. There’s also been the now familiar activity on the social media. Having done all this, some theatres are clearly thinking, ‘Do we need a brochure? Why not save some money?’

I’m guessing CFT knows that people are 30 times more likely to buy from a brochure than an email. Of course, CFT may only have a postal address for them. Whatever the reason, sales are sure to follow since these are previous ticket buyers, especially when the customer receives a brochure as good as this. CFT’s marketing team obviously realise that there’s no point making a decision to do a mailing, then skimping on it.

Chichester Festival Theatre brochure cover Chichester Festival Theatre Brochure

As always, it’s oversize and on excellent quality paper. Other venues might decide that something smaller and lighter might be bettervalue but the advantage of the CFT brochure is that it conveys the quality of the theatre and it gives space for dramatic layouts and clear type. On this latter point, it never fails to astonish me that arts organisations allow designers to downgrade the importance of the copy by allocating it a tiny font size and using difficult to read colours, as if text is just another block on the design layout. They also make sure we read it by putting the text on the right and the images on the left, because they know we only look at the right unless something pulls our attention to the left.

Chichester acknowledges the importance of words and that most people, but particularly its older audience, appreciate clarity. With the occasional exception (Neville’s Island is white out of rippling waves) all their text is a readable size and has a good contrast. Many pages are actually black out of white- it’s the only fully comprehensible combination and yet one that seems to be an anathema to designers.

The brochure is also written in an engaging way, describing the drama of the play and the other selling points such as cast, author and director in an active way. The only improvement I would only suggest is it should address the reader more by the use of ‘you’.

As is always the case, the marketing people are hampered by lack of production shots but they make up for this with eye-catching images. One innovation is pages that fold out to produce big impact spreads. I would have hesitated to spend the extra on these for the likely return but there’s no denying they make you take notice.

I don’t think the CFT’s 2013 season brochure is perfect. The cover scores by having the theatre name and date right at the top but misses an opportunity to entice the less committed customers people inside because it doesn’t list the contents. And the back page- the second most important page in any brochure- is wasted by being devoted to a list of sponsors.

So, overall 9/10 for an excellent brochure from Chichester Festival Theatre. I’ve booked my tickets for The Pajama Game.

For more tips on how to produce a brochure that sells, click here. If you would like a freecritique of your brochure (no strings attached- I’m not touting for business- I simply like to support the arts), send a copy to Paul Lewis, The Lewis Experience, Southgate Chambers, 37 Southgate Street, Winchester SO23 9EH.

Author: Paul Lewis

After a short stint as a journalist, I have spent most of my working life in marketing and retailing. I love theatre and have been lucky enough to work in theatre marketing for many years. I provide small businesses and arts organisations with holistic marketing at an economic price through my company Seven Experience Ltd

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