1. Have a mission.
Know the direction you're going and be specific. People connect with specificity, not generality. Knowing your mission helps you build that tribe of dedicated and supportive audience.
2. Collect audience info.
Wondering who the demographics of your shows already are? Put out a survey at your shows. Make it fun, giveaway a prize, and get the info. This way you know if you're reaching your ideal audience or spot patterns and consistencies in your ticket-holders. Surveys sound boring, and trust us, they take work. BUT you will not get to know a large amount of information from your audience any other way.
3. Create a position for "Relationship Ambassador".
This position can be paid or volunteer, but their only job is to observe, improve, and expand the audience offerings and make suggestions about how to improve the theatre's relationships. Seriously, it's hard for those of us who work on the other side of the house all the time to really know how to improve it. Get an outside opinion. This could position can be open on a show-by-show basis, or a season at large.
4. Know your production season, and make it easy to buy.
If you aren't selling tickets to your next show or a season pass during your show -- you are not capitalizing on your audience's energy and excitement. Make it easy to buy the night of a show while they are physically present with you and completely immersed in your world.
5. Email Lists are amazing.
Creating an email newsletter for your audience to receive updates on is one of the best ways to engage and get information out to them. Need volunteers, have open positions, call for auditions or promoting a show? Email your audience! MailChimp offers a free email list up to 1,000 subscribers.
6. Consistency in Communication.
Along with email lists you need to be regularly and consistently reaching out to your audience. Don't just ask for things you need from your audience, give as much if not more than what you need! This means giveaway free tickets, or opportunities to connect with the cast.
7. Get out of the theater and outreach!
Take opportunities to present at festivals, parties, local programs, and (other) schools! Getting out of the theater and into your community on their turf is a great way to make connections. Have a heavy Spring and Fall season? Do your outreach in the summer!
8. Perks for Season Ticket Holders.
Building your season ticket holder or monthly subscriber program? Add in digital, tangible, and experiential bonuses for your highest paying audience members. Some ideas: Bonus tickets for season ticket holders, opportunities to tour backstage, and the increasing favorite -- a separate line for check-in the night of the show.
9. Create a great volunteer and staff community.
The experience of the audience is only as amazing as the team that makes it happen. Do not take your team for granted and the personality and energy it takes to keep a large crowd happy. Build the right expectations and reward. Building a great audience means taking the time to build a great team.
10. BONUSES ROCK.
Everyone loves FREE STUFF, BONUSES, and WINNING. Incorporate opportunities for free tickets, snacks, backstage opps, and more into every program you do. It's worth the planning effort to include these special experience giveaways during your season.
What ways are you building a great relationship with your ideal audience? Write us in the comments below.