Jo Duncan

Marketing Lessons from the Edinburgh Fringe

The Edinburgh Fringe is an incredible annual festival of the arts. It’s also highly unique, from a marketing perspective. With 3,000+ shows on offer, how do  you get an audience for yours? Unless you’re famous, or winning awards, or on TV, it can be hard to stand out.

Some small lessons I’ve learned from running shows two years running could translate further. If you’re trying to get your audience to pay attention to what you’re doing, what’s the secret to success?

  1. Choose the right channel

At the Fringe, success or failure depends massively on which channel you choose to promote your event. Although we tweeted every day, and promoted our event on Facebook, that translated to less than 5% of our audience. How did we get the punters in? Flyering on the street. By handing out flyers, and explaining to people why they should see the show, we could target an audience that was in the right location, and free at the right time.

For real-life marketers that means that channel is more important than message. It means timing is more important than demographics. And it also means that tactics are less important than strategy. If your audience aren’t online, don’t use digital marketing. If your audience don’t buy online, don’t try to sell this way. There’s something wonderful about real printed media, and real life communications. It’s much more powerful than a landing page.

2. Personalise your messaging

Another lesson I learned was how to speak to people individually on the street. Personalising your marketing is vital. For a group of young people on a night out, we’d talk about how the show was about the struggles of being a young adult. For an older couple, we’d talk about the awards or recommendations we’d had in the past, and that the show was quality.

What does this mean for you? Thinking about how you communicate your service or product is pretty key. Picturing a real person, trying to use human language, and ultimately respecting the fact that you’re invading someone else’s space. I’ve done another blog on email marketing, which goes into more detail on this.

3. Don’t scrimp on your media spend

This year I chose not to promote the show via the Fringe app, or the Fringe booklet. This saved us a little over £300, but was actually a big mistake. Without a listing on the app, our show was invisible to people walking past.

What’s the lesson here? Spend when it makes a difference, but don’t waste your budget unnecessarily. Appearing on listings sites, syndicating your content out or inviting people to a Facebook event could make all the difference.

4. Believe in what you’re selling

The bottom line about marketing anything is honesty. If you don’t buy in to what you’re selling, there’s little point shouting about it. By promoting something we all felt connected to and invested in, it was easy, sometimes even fun, to spend time promoting it on the street.

If you don’t believe in your product, spend time working out what you like about it, what the real value is to your customer, and then revisit your messaging.

For a little help with your marketing strategy, get in touch today.