A weakness of mine I have been working exceptionally hard on in 2016 is that I am willing to take others’ problems on as my own, especially if I think I have a unique set of skills that I feel could help. One of my skill sets I’ve slid backwards into is developing marketing campaigns for comedy shows. I get asked for help a lot, but honestly, I have no formal training, and y’all can help yourselves. Here are my tips.
Graphics and Branding
- Quit trying to get a paper poster unless you have a lot of lead time and a massive budget.
Is it 1992? Do the people you know not have computers? When is the last time you saw a poster in public and went to the show? As a graphic designer I get asked for paper posters for shows happening a week out – no one will see that, and you’re wasting my time and your money. Make digital graphics, and use the rules below.
- Make sure your online graphic is optimized for Twitter and Facebook, which means paying attention to mobile dimensions.
Have you noticed that on your timeline people’s event photos often look like complete garbage? It’s because they’ve ignored an insanely simple formula. Read this basic tutorial or email me for a template, or if you have the funds, just hire a designer who knows.
- Keep it simple, you goddamned idiot
If you’re making it yourself, there is a 90% chance I hate your poster. Theres a 40% chance if I really, really hate it I send it to people and mock it behind your back. The Sure Thing and Sad Trombone pages make amazing use of a basic photo with text on top. ALL ONE FONT. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU NEED 10 PICTURES AND 10 FONTS? Also, if you use a Halloween font on not Halloween, I hate you. Download Oswald. I use it for everything. If you can’t figure that out, Helvetica is fine. ITS FINE. IF YOU USE PAPYRUS I WILL MURDER YOU IN YOUR SLEEP.
- DONT change the look and feel every week.
Use the same font and format as often as possible so that people recognize your posts as related. Naughty Bits uses Core Deco. Megaphone show uses a font called “Wildflowers.” You know the Sure Thing font when you see it, even when it’s not on a Sure Thing poster. The Good Fight poster is recognizable and the pictures are interesting. That shit is cool. Do that shit.
- Professional photos are great, but not necessary if you don’t have the time or budget.
This one’s more for sketch comedians. And I get it. I do. I’ve eaten a donut in a dumpster for comedy. But as the classic Ella Gale tweet goes, “Your headshots shouldn’t be better than your jokes.”
- Tag people and be shameless about it.
Do you know how to tag people on Twitter? Are you tagging the people on your shows so they can RT? Are you tagging satellites that might share you, like Austin on Budget, or your venue? Why not? Are you tagging your comics on FB, if for no other reason than to remind a group of likely deadbeats they have a show?
- Make your Facebook event 1-2 weeks out.
Post it in a relevant amount of time, but far enough out for people to put it on their calendar. Don’t do it day of, or 2 months out, unless you have a FUCKTON of fun content to share.
- Instagram is OK but not super helpful.
You can’t put links on Instagram so only do this if you have literally every other base covered.
- Use Facebook groups.
Comedians care if your show is still happening. If they see the lineup posted every week, they will feel itchy – why am I not on this show yet? Oh, THAT GUY? THAT GUY BEFORE ME? (You guys know this is true even though you hate it.) If no one knows about your show, no one will share it.
Do all the things.
- Reddit /r/austin
- There’s a Chronicle submissions page (OK I’ve never successfully used it)
- Some people write press releases
- Look at shows that killed it – Heckle Her does an amazing production job. I’m gonna go look now. Everything Rob Gagnon does is also insane. Look at that Sandbox email he sent you. LOOK AT IT.
It never stops.
You have to do every single thing on this list every show into forever. Are you ready?
You’re not entitled to shit.
Sorry, I love you, I really do. Every show you *think* is run effortlessly is not. You look at Sure Thing and you’re like “what are they doing that I’m not? Its just time. Time and a good host. That’s it!” Lol, no. First off, Sure Thing started off with professional sponsorship from a radio station. Secondly, they do an insane amount of behind the scenes shit you don’t see to make sure they’re not just booking their friends and everything runs smoothly. Buzzkill? Katie worked her ass off to make Buzzkill that huge. Additionally, the market is saturated as fuck right now. You’re going to have to work really, really hard to make your showcase successful. Are you ready for that? Or would you rather keep getting better at mics? Because there’s no shame in the latter.
Ok this one’s real specific, but quit starting game shows.
With the exception of Spun Out, Liar Liar and some of the shows that have existed in clubs, I think every game show I’ve attended in Austin has been under-produced. That’s because game shows are a HUGE undertaking. Cody Greenlee and I ran one and it took hours and hours of prep and still went terribly because you honestly need a rehearsal first. Are you willing to put in 8-10 hours of prep for a first show that will likely have a smaller audience? No?
“If you love Sure Thing so much why don’t you marry it?”
This is btw me and my therapist, thanks.