So you’re holding flyers for your new show and there are people everywhere. How do you catch their interest?
From our experience at the Fringe, we prefer a conversational approach. If you like talking then that’s perfect…but what if you don’t? The hardest thing is initiating conversation. How do you start?
Ask A Question
This serves two purposes
- People respond to questions (mainly because they don’t want to seem rude).
- Secondly it helps you decide whether they are interested in your show.
The simplest version for us would be: “Do you like musicals?” This is good as it elicits an affirmative or negative response, however it also shuts down the conversation as anyone can say “yes” or “no” and walk on.
A better question would be open-ended and invite a longer answer (hopefully encouraging potential audience members to stop and answer you. Examples of this include:
- “What is your opinion of musical theatre?”
- “What musicals are you seeing during your visit?”
- “What venues have you already been to?”
- “How does live music make you feel?”
- “What show are you seeing at 18.55 tonight?”
From this point, it is likely that you have someone’s attention, or they’ve ignored you and continued walking (if they’ve done that, jump to Step 3)
Once they’ve stopped, you have small window of opportunity to tell them about your show, so you need to craft a pitch. The key to your pitch is to sum up what the show is about.
- “Keep the Home Fires is a show about female spies in World War One”
- “If I told you I was a spy in World War One, what would you say?”
- “Give this letter to someone who is going to see another piece of musical theatre, the outcome of the war depends on it!”
Once you have pitched to the individual or group, you should close with a call to action (unless they are still asking questions and talking to you, then converse as normal)
Examples of suitable calls to action for Keep the Home Fires include:
- “Buy your tickets now at the Fringe Box Office”
- “Beat the ticket queues at the Venue Box Office” [then give directions]
- “Give this letter to someone else”
While you do this, it is important to make eye contact, smile and remain engaged with that person (or persons). If you do, they will find it very difficult to disengage and you will likely find that they maintain eye contact and smile at you.
Most important of all, is to stay positive. By this we mean prepare to be ignored and shut down again and again. Despite all this rejection, keep going. Flyering is in many ways soul-destroying, but the key thing to remember is that at the Fringe it’s part of the experience and rather than trying to hand out all of the thousands of flyers that you’ve brought with you, instead just converse with people. The best way to attract attention is by not flyering like everyone else and by engaging with people and talking to them, you’ll stand out…while also having a good conversation, which will make you feel good about yourself and the experience.
Being part of a team is particularly helpful as it means that you can support each other. Help one member bounce back from rejection and they will return the favour. Additionally, constantly evolving your approach helps as well. If one team member has had particular success with a pitch or approach, sharing with the team will help the team succeed…and don’t forget to congratulate each other when each person succeeds.
Flyering was never supposed to be fun, but the great thing about flyering at the Fringe, is that the majority of people on the streets are actually attending Fringe events. Far from being untargeted advertising, these people want to see shows, because that’s the reason they’ve come to the Fringe. All you have to do is find out whether they’re interested in your show.
UPDATE: When this was written, we could not have foreseen the effect wearing WW1 costumes would have on the general public. Many photos later, it would seem that the easiest way to increase the effectiveness of flyering is to be different enough to encourage someone to stop and take a photo…and then hand them a flyer before they leave. Most people accept the flyer as a payment of sorts for the photo.