Sorry for my absence from Sound and Noise these last couple of weeks. I’ve been swept up into the to do list that accompanies Fringe and more specifically into today’s topic.
I’ll start with a confession. I find marketing terrifying. From the nitty gritty details of putting together a poster, to the big picture of designing a marketing strategy, all the endless possibilities are completely overwhelming and make me question why I didn’t think to get a degree in business instead of theatre (or at the very least why there are no arts administration courses within the drama degree at U of A). And when you’re faced with the task of distinguishing yourselves from hundreds of other Fringe shows, where do you begin?
The thing that I’ve learned this year is that it’s never too early to start. This is a double edged sword if you’re developing new work – you can’t properly market yourself unless you know what the piece is about. But you can’t know exactly what the piece is about until you finish it. In the case of Resurrected Motifs I’m presenting four different pieces from four different choreographers in one show. I’ve got the challenge of tying together four distinct voices into one cohesive whole. Luckily, having finally seen a full run of the show, the tone and mood of the pieces work well together and fit the educated guesses I made about images and design choices for our publicity several weeks ago.
There’s also the question of how much you do. Are you spending a couple hours on the Fringe grounds every day putting up posters and talking your show up to the gathered crowds? Or do you try to limit the amount of time and money you’ll spend and try to do just enough to maintain visibility on the Fringe grounds? I admit, I tend to lean towards the second option, partly to keep on budget (printing costs add up really quickly) and partly to preserve my sanity. I work a day job and will continue to work my day job through Fringe, as do many of my choreographers and dancers. The four or five hours I’ll spent at Fringe each day need to be carefully prioritized. Papering the Fringe site with posters and handbills inevitably comes after doing our show, supporting the other shows at our venue by volunteering and trying to see the occasional show.
Social media is another area where you have to make hard decisions. Since facebook and twitter are free, the question is more about how much time you can invest in promoting your show online. I’m expanding my social media horizons a little more this year. I’ve joined Twitter (@KelsieActon) and love the way it works. I’m going to keep my account going for future dance and yoga work.
There’s also the question of post-Fringe and preparing for future Fringes. Fringe audiences have memories and if you can establish a following at the Fringe your marketing becomes easier. I feel I’ve reached the point where I need to start making choices about how I brand myself within the Edmonton arts community and how I can start the work of marketing myself, my work and the work of people I want to support before the deadlines for the next project start piling up. It’ll be an exciting new project but, first, there’s the Fringe itself…