Marketing Dance

Jeffrey E. Salzberg (
Thu, 4 Jun 1998 07:28:30 -6

> This mail has nothing to do with dance or technology, but since you nearly
> all have experience advertising performances I though I'd ask whether you
> might help soothe my guilty conscience about postering for my latest
> concert. Or maybe you'll scold me.

Probably neither.

Posters and flyers are probably the least efficient (in terms of
labor and money) means of marketing dance. I doubt if as many as 100
people in the entire world have evr come to a concert purely because
of seeing it advertised on posters and flyers.

What posters are good for is reinforcing a message that people
have already heard elsewhere; no message really "sinks in"
to people until they've seen or heard it three times. . .so what we
need to do is find other media, and then use the posters to support

What might these media be?

Radio and TV. In this country, at least, broadcast stations are
required, as a condition of their licenses, to provide a certain
amount of community service. I'm not speaking, in this case, about
the 15-second "Public Service Announcements" read whenever the
announcer feels like it and ignored by the listeners; what we need to
do is negotiate "media sponsorship" agreements. These entail a
certain (predefined) numbers of 30 or 60 second spots aired at
specific times of day. Media sponsorship might also include on-air
interviews. It's all negotiable.

As good as radio spots (actually better) are ticket giveaways. Why
better? Each one works for you twice. The announcers says, "We have
two tickets to the XYZ performance for the third caller. . .etc.,
etc. . . ." and then plays a piece of music, after which he or she
"back announces" by saying, "The winner of the 2 tickets was. . . ."
(They usually announce the phone number for people who didn't win but
want to attend anyway).

Other useful media:

Direct mail. Not as obnoxious as email spam and better than posters
in that interested recipients can immediately post your card on their
refrigerators or bulletin boards.

Billboards. Better than posters because they're big and they're
noticed by many more people. In this country, the outdoor
advertising companies are under political attack i many cities from
activists who prefer to see the trees in their original, non-paper
state; this means that the companies are eager to do things that will
create good will for them. I was able to get 5 small and one large
billboard for the cost of printing and labor -- about $500 (total)
for 6 billboards that were in place for a month.

Paid print ads. If your community has a weekly tabloid, this is a
good place to spend some money; the ad stays around for a week (as
opposed to a daily paper) and the space tends to be cheaper. A
psychological advantage is that paid print ads give you credibility
in the eyes of potential audience members who are unfamiliar with
your work. One way to defray the cost of print ads is to negotiate
"ad swaps", in which the paper gives you a discount in return for an
ad in your printed program.

Note that part of your deal with any of the above media may involve
reciprocal ads in your program.

All of your advertising should include the 5 W's of journalism: Who,
what, when, where, and why. This last is the most often neglected; if
you don't tell the audience WHY they should attend, they won't. Any
sale is contingent upon solving a problem for the customer. In this
case, the customers' problem is that they want to see a cutting edge,
high-tech dance performance; your task is to use your advertising to
communicate that attending your concert will solve that problem for

Jeffrey E. Salzberg, Lighting Designer