E-marketing E-ssentials: Ten Simple Steps to Start Internet Marketing

February 2010
Ken Davenport, Broadway & Off-Broadway Producer

Ken Davenport, our guest writer this month, is one of Broadway’s rising star producers. He’s as forward thinking and creative as they get, and his daily blog, “The Producer’s Perspective,” is a must-read for anyone interested in theatre and creative marketing and promotion. The article below, though initially written for theatre producers, is as succinct a summary of good arts marketing practices as we’ve seen in a long time. If you enjoy this, I urge you to follow Ken at his site.

If you opted in to receive this e-mail from Patron Technology, then you’re obviously smart enough to know that the Internet is where you’re supposed to be if you’re trying to market your show or your theatre.

But are you smart enough to have started?

If you are one of those producers or playwrights or marketing directors who always meant to get around to understanding the Internet but hasn’t quite gotten around to it — or who does understand it but hasn’t quite gotten started yet — 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 created this list of 10 Simple Steps to Start Internet Marketing Your Show or Theatre. These tips work for Broadway shows, Off-Broadway show, Off-Off Broadway shows, and everything in between, as well as arts organizations of all shapes and sizes. In fact, this list is even more helpful for the smaller shows and organizations. Apply the majority of these tips and you can make your place seem a lot bigger than it is.

Ready? Here we go.

1. Buy Your Domain Name.
The most important thing you can do when you prep for a show is buy the domain name. 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 Web sites, 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. SEO helps make sure that when someone does a search for your organization, they actually
find what they’re looking for. 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.
On the last Internet marketing panel I spoke on, Eugene Carr gave the audience one of the simplest and yet most important takeaways. He said, “The most important thing a Web marketer can do is increase the quantity and the quality of his/her opt-in list.” E-mail marketing allows you to build relationships with fans, promote your show, sell tickets, and more. Put a sign-up box on your Web site to collect e-mail addresses, and send occasional e-mails to your list with information and updates about your show to keep them engaged. Naturally, you should use a product like PatronMail to make it easier for you.

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 Web site, social networking pages, or blog posts. Want to read more about Twitter? Click here.

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 for an account on a blog site like Typepad, and start blogging. 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. Want to read more about blogging? Click here.

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 (and we’re back to SEO again).

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 Web site for indexing.

For more tips on producing and marketing live entertainment, visit Ken’s Blog at: www.TheProducersPerspective.com.

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