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View Full Version : An Idea: Flyer Passing Out Co-Op



Bryan Cohen
08-22-2008, 01:48 PM
I had this idea yesterday and I wanted to run it by the forum scouring folk. Have you ever noticed that whenever it comes time to pass out flyers for your group there are never enough people to truly get the word out (especially when your flyers tend to arrive in the 2nd or 3rd week of the run...I'm just saying)?

What if there was a system that would allow participants in other shows to pass out flyers for your show, if at some point later you pass out flyers for theirs? I call it the flyer passing out co-op (I'm sure there's a better name). It works an "eye for an eye," if you pass out flyers for my show for an hour, I pass out flyers for your show for an hour. All based on the honor code.

There are various restrictions and limitations we could put on this, but I'm definitely interested in finding out what people think about it before refining it too much. Let me know in the poll.

Chip
08-22-2008, 08:34 PM
This will sound cynical but I can't see this working.

First of all, people hate flyers. As the great Mitch Hedberg said, "When someone hands me a flyer, it's like he saying: Here, you throw this away." So I don't think they do a good job of promoting.

Second, people don't like handing out flyers for their own shows, much less other people's.

Angie
08-22-2008, 08:39 PM
Not to poo poo you chip but flyering is one of the most effective show promotion tools.

It is why you will see new TV show with million dollar budgets still send folks out to hand to hand give away postcards and shwag.

Even the Redeye has folks hand out the FREE paper.

No Chip I disagree with your statement.

As for a co-op working...not sure. Its a great idea.

Kristin
08-22-2008, 08:54 PM
I am all for supporting other people, and don't want to sound like a jerk. However, I would not be comfortable passing out flyers for groups whose work I may know nothing about, for many reasons.

Chip
08-22-2008, 09:18 PM
I believe you if you say it works, Angie. Personally, I never take flyers handed to me on the street and assumed most other people don't either.

Crescent
08-22-2008, 09:25 PM
I loathe people handing my flyers mostly because it always feels like such a waste of paper and takes up room in my bag.

...just so everyone knows how I feel because I"m really important to the improv community.*











*I'm not important.

Steev
08-22-2008, 10:13 PM
Why spend an hour handing out someone else's flyer? Why not spend an hour handing out my own flyer?

I think it looks all nice on paper, but I can promise you it wouldn't work. The one person in a group who signs up for this co-op will be the only person in their group willing to stand out on a corner on a weekend handing out slips of paper advertising someone else's show.

How about we all just market our own shit?

jimfath
08-22-2008, 10:27 PM
On a small scale I've never seen flyering work.

On a large scale I have seen it work to some degree. Specifically for the playground when there are many many hands towing the line and handing out stuff. Market days and group postering endevours specifically. I say "some degree" in that I have seen people presenting hand outs working the door at the PG (Admit one free and Two 4 one's). Another thing I've noticed is that with ALL those Playground Handouts... they can sometimes trickle back in.

A better joint venture might be a shared bill when the participants are equally ivested in the aims of the advertising. The more hands the better.

Telfer
08-22-2008, 10:27 PM
Why spend an hour handing out someone else's flyer? Why not spend an hour handing out my own flyer?

It's this simple.

Steev
08-22-2008, 10:31 PM
On a small scale I've never seen flyering work.

On a large scale I have seen it work to some degree. Specifically for the playground when there are many many hands towing the line and handing out stuff. Market days and group postering endevours specifically. I say "some degree" in that I have seen people presenting hand outs working the door at the PG (Admit one free and Two 4 one's). Another thing I've noticed is that with ALL those Playground Handouts... they can sometimes trickle back in.

A better joint venture might be a shared bill when the participants are equally ivested in the aims of the advertising. The more hands the better.

I agree that flyering definitely works. It sucks, and it has a very low hit rate, but it's one that builds over time. It lays a good base. Then when someone sees your poster 2 weeks later, or hears someone talk about the show 7 months later, it exists in their brain already, and they pay a little more attention.

Handing out other peoples' flyers, though, makes your balls fall off.

VinRigan
08-22-2008, 11:06 PM
Handing out other people's flyers? Nope, sorry, not gonna do it. Waste of my time, to promote your show, instead of mine, as much as it's a waste of your time to hand out my flyers. On a cynical side, what's to keep you from just not handing out my flyers at all, if you have no stake in the show?

Much as I love helping the community, a show other than mine is, technically speaking, competition. Would Pepsi hand out Coke cans?

Now, if you hired some random person who had no interest one way or the other to hand out flyers- they could hand out Pepsi and Coke cans, and would theoretically do so with the same enthusiasm. I just don't have that sort of thing in my budget, though- to hire someone to flyer.

Handing out postcards/flyers, when done in the "here, you throw this out" fashion, is a waste of time, in my opinion. Posting posters, a little less so, but I'd definitely discourage people from doing the stand-outside-the-Belmont-El-stop-with-postcards thing. I always feel bad when I see friends of mine out there, passing out a thousand flyers a night, in the vain hopes of getting a handful of extra butts in seats. Graphic design and postcard printing can add up quick.

Of course, your mileage may vary, it depends on the audience you want, etc. Are you looking for people who see the "cheap beer!" on your flyer and look at it as a reason to come to your barprov show? Or are you looking to get the Steppenwolf-subscriber who's looking for a change of pace at your improv show that happens to be at a regular theater venue? Or are you just hoping to catch someone who was wandering about Wrigleyville looking for something cool to do?

With Theatre Momentum, we instituted a "discount code" system, in which the players are given an incentive (in the form of $ for every patron who uses their code) to pass out flyers to *individuals* they think will actually come see the show. They have codes on labels they stick on the cards, or send out via email. It's win-win for them, the patron, and the company. It's worked decently for us so far, anyhow. And it kinda keeps people from doing the comparatively lazy "leave a stack of flyers" or "pass 'em out at the Belmont El" thing.

My $.02.

Bryan Cohen
08-23-2008, 01:09 AM
My thoughts for one way to get around the "why should I spend an hour flyering for your show when I could promote my show" state of mind is that shows not going on at the same time could utilize the system.

If your show is going on, you're typically busy promoting it, but 7 weeks down the line when you're just in rehearsal (because, let's face it, it's the improv community, you're always in a show) then perhaps you could return the favor of the other group during their opening week.

I know it's theoretical and that jokes could be made about it and the concept of flyering in general. I do think it would be nice if this kind of thing was doable. Good for the soul or something :).

bek_mar
08-23-2008, 07:19 AM
How about this:

You and I are both doing a show right now. We trade flyers and put them in the seats before the house opens.

It's a small community, so it's likely that my audience members will say, "Hey, I know that guy, he's great!" and hopefully want to see yours too. And vice versa.

It also gives people something to look at before the show starts, which is appreciated.

Plus it rules out that "competitive" side where people have to choose between two shows; they already paid for yours, maybe now they'll consider going to mine too.

VinRigan
08-23-2008, 04:52 PM
Energies are limited, as are finances. Mine, the audiences', everyone's. If I'm in rehearsal, I'm not trying to promote a show, much less someone else's. If I am promoting a show "(because, let's face it, it's the improv community, you're always in a show)", it will be one of those I'm in, which I have a stake in, and which, if people ask me about it, I can answer questions. If I'm not affiliated with your show or company, what's my incentive to hand out flyers for your show?

Just because your show schedule and mine aren't overlapping doesn't mean you aren't competition. The typical (non-improvisor) audience member has only so much improv/sketch/theatre they can handle, both financially and psychologically. So, you're vying for their dollars as well as their time. Just because you have a show Tuesday, I have on Wednesday, and Joe Blow has one Thursday doesn't mean any audience member will come see them all. In fact, that's well nigh impossible.

If I want to promote a show, I'll promote one of my company's upcoming shows, which the audience can see, from the quality of the show they're currently seeing, bek_mar, is worth seeing. If I have your flyers in my seats before my show, it's saying I'm vouching for your show. If I don't know your show, there's no way I'm going to do anything that gives that impression. The closest I could think to this being a workable idea is that, if a company member is in a different show that's doing promotions, they can put their postcards in seats or in programs. Years ago, when I did a show on an off-night at ComedySportz (and was working a the theater), they let me stuff the programs with our postcards. It was unusual, but it did, in retrospect, give the impression that we'd been vetted by ComedySportz.

Oh, and it doesn't rule out the competitive side, because they could just as easily come back and spend money to see my show again, or another show put up by my company.

If you want to give them something to look at before the show starts, it's called a program. Theatre companies have used 'em forever.

And the "it's a small community" thing is a dynamic that assumes all audience members are part of the same community, assumably the improv/sketch community. I don't spend advertising dollars on advertising to my peers.

Angie
08-23-2008, 09:36 PM
Bryan,

Something CIC has done in the past that worked well for us was coupon swaps in playbills.

We did it with Infamous Commenwealth, Next Theater, Oracle, and Lifeline


To the effect of $2 off with this playbill

we did get about a 1% return over the 8 week promotion.

We did this for two different shows.

But the shows had commen themes (Lifeline was bringing in Amy Sedaris when we were doing the Sedaris show, and Oracle, Next and IC were doing Durang show when we were as well)

But I also know several Theaters with lobbies will do postcard swaps with us including Steppenwolf.