Theatre Marketing Efforts Should Consider the Three-Headed Audience

When defining your theatre marketing approach, advertising plans and pricing strategies, event producers must consider their audiences. Yes, audiences – plural.  We have seen three groups of potential audience members:

Friends and family of performers
Patrons who have attended previous shows
Newcomers

It is interesting to consider the motivations and demand curve for each of these groups.
Friends and family of performers
These are people who will show up pretty well regardless of the price (within reason) and do not need to receive any marketing messages such as seeing posters or hearing advertising to decide to attend.  They are going to see their friends or family perform. Period. Their loyalty is to the performers.

High school events and children’s education theatre groups have a high portion of their audience in this group.  They are not as price-sensitive as the other groups, although lowers prices will encourage them to come multiple times.
Patrons who attended previous shows
This group consists of people who have had a good experience with your venue or organization previously. They have some degree of loyalty to your organization. These folks expect pricing in line with what they have paid previously. They need to be made aware of the performance – perhaps from posters, advertising or newsletters. They are more price-sensitive than the previous group.
Newcomers
These are people who have not attended a performance at your organization previously and are not friends or family of the performers.  These are, of course, the most difficult to attract because they have no loyalty to your organization or to the performers.

This group is, of course price sensitive, and need to be attracted to the event for a specific reason – like a well-known musical or special pricing incentives. Your completion with this group is other activities or just staying home.
Theatre Marketing and Pricing
So why does this matter? When selecting a ticketing system, you must ensure that you can cater to all groups, especially from a ticket pricing perspective. You want the ability to price some seats high because the friends and family will eagerly purchase them. You want the ability to offer discounts even on good seats to attract the newcomers, and you need the ability to easily stay in touch with existing patrons and inform them of new shows.

It is useful also to assess what portion of your ticket sales you expect to come from each group.  If you expect the majority of your capacity will be taken up with friends and family, there is not use in spending much money on advertising or other forms of theatre marketing. These people are going to show up regardless. If your group is primarily newcomers, be prepared to discount and to get marketing messages out.

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