This fall several of our clients hosted shows that did not sell as many tickets as anticipated. At the same time, several other shows did in fact sell well. It is pretty typical to have a mix. But, what did the shows that sold well have in common? The key is in the on sale.
Tickets sell tickets. Once you have a strong onsale, the word spreads quickly. Suddenly hundreds or even thousands of people have tickets “in their hands” and are excited to tell everyone they know. They tell their co-workers. They tell their families. They tell their friends (near and far) about it on social media. The difference between 10 people having a ticket in their hands and 100 people having a ticket in their hands could literally mean an additional several thousand people suddenly knowing about your event, regardless of what marketing plan you are executing between on sale and the show day.
How do you create a strong on sale? Get creative,make a plan, and get people excited about having a ticket. Your marketing plan shouldn’t suddenly start when your tickets go onsale. There should be at least one week between your announce date and your onsale date if at all possible. That gives you a week to create excitement about it, and emphasize your onsale date and time so it is fresh in everyone’s mind. Here are a few ways some of our clients with strong ticket sales have done this:
*One of our college clients created an
all-nighton sale party. Students camped out starting at 9pm the night before their 7am ticket onsale. The line started at the box office and weaved throughout the common areas of campus. Students participated in contests, won prizes, drank free hot chocolate, ate free donuts in the morning, and hung out with thousands of their fellow students. It was the place to be that night, and everyone who camped out then bought a ticket, so they ended with over 2,000 tickets sold in the first day of their onsale.
*Another one of our clients did something similar on their smaller campus. They hosted a party from 6-11pm where students could purchase their ticket, and ended up coming within 100 tickets of selling out that first night.
*Contradicting what I said above about giving yourself a week between announce and onsale, another one of our college clients spread the word that a “big concert announcement” was to occur during their weekly chapel session. A huge part of their student body attends weekly chapel, but once they knew that a concert announcement was to be made, they all made sure to be there that day. Once the concert was announced, a wonderful type of chaos ensued, where the students could purchase their tickets immediately after chapel. Everyone ran to get to the box office, which is in the same building as chapel.
Keep in mind that these examples are in addition to the usual ways of promoting an event, such as:
*Buyers with a strong social media presence can create hype for their show by posting clues or other promotions on their social media building up to the big announce. Once announced, they should have many posts/tweets/shares, etc between then and on sale to spread the word and keep it fresh in everyone’s mind. Traditional theaters, PACs and arenas need to focus on building not only their social media presence but also their email lists. Ticket buyers are likely to buy again, so be sure to collect their contact info in every way possible and send them regular communication about what is coming through your building.
*Make sure your radio station(s) is/are fully-engaged with ads stating the onsale date, “win ‘em before you can buy ‘em” contests, liners, and general mentions before the announce.
*Make sure your posters are hung everywhere possible immediately upon announcing.
*Don’t forget to tell your audience at one event about the next event.
*Add your event immediately to all online calendars possible, including the artist’s website and social sites.
*Talk to the artist’s publicist to get the artist to help you. Ask if the artist can announce on all of their own sites, ask whether they can conduct interviews with any media outlets you are marketing with, and even ask if the artist would consider making a video saying they are excited to perform at your event. Not many artists will be able to do this, but it is always worth asking.
*Front-load your marketing plan with a combination of every single promo item you can think of. A combination of all of the above and more is best. Especially free marketing. If it’s a free way to market your event, you have no excuse – use it!
Once on sale, unless your tickets sell out that day, you cannot let up on marketing. You have to keep pushing marketing out to remind people to go get their tickets. Sometimes if your marketing slows down or disappears right after the on sale, some potential ticket buyers may either forget about the event, or think that your tickets are sold out.
If you don’t front load your ticket sales, you may be in for an uphill battle with your ticket sales, in which it is a painstakingly slow process and you will have a lot of anxiety about whether the tickets will sell or not. But prepare accordingly and put a ton of effort into your on sale, and it will likely pay off!