How to promote niche theatre (e.g. puppet theatre) to the right audience
Promoting niche theatre is often a case of finding the audience. In order to find an audience you must be prepared to look locally and nationally and in some cases internationally. Often looking outside the box it not as hard as it sounds, it's just about being focused and being targeted in your marketing activity.
One of the key factors is to join forces in promoting your work. Having another to promote your work at the same time means you have double the success. A good way to do this is to scratch your show or perform your show in tandem with a very pro-active venue that do a lot of work in promoting their own shows and shows they house. By teaming up you can use the knowledge of the other party and may be able to access their audiences via their mailing lists etc. Be generous and offer to promote their shows and in return they may promote yours. Never be afraid to ask what other people to connect with their audience and get ideas for how to connect with yours.
The first step in teaming up is usually to find venues that promote this niche work. Experimental venues like The Battersea Arts Centre in London often has puppetry shows, for example, and is a great venue known for how much help they provide in supporting your venture. They are also a well known venue in the London theatre scene so are fantastic for getting your work noticed, further supported and produced. They also run short festivals and events for showcasing pieces.
Key for promoting niche theatre is harnessing the power of technology and data. Use social media - find #puppettheatre or whatever your niche theatre may be via hashtags on Twitter. Once you look through other sharing with this hashtag, you will find various other people or companies with similar interests and can then connect with them and market directly to them, finding the perfect audience. You should create an account for your niche theatre production or company and follow other similar accounts and those that once used these key words in their hashtags.
Also look into children's theatre venues such at The Unicorn on London's fringe. Often Children's venue have wide taste in variety of differing types of theatre as they cater for a different audience. Other niche companies include Improbable theatre, Frantic Assembly for physical theatre and DV8. If you are promoting yourself ask for their support in retweeting your campaign and promo material, as well as any other relevant articles.
You can also get in touch with websites that promote niche theatre and fringe theatre, for example OffWestEnd.com. The Offies host interviews on their website and then promote the interviews and interviewees work via their social media sites. This is a great way to tell people about the piece and draw in audiences from a far whilst getting double the publicity.
There are any different ways of promoting niche theatre, get online, get involved and get connected to those who will both champion you and inspire you.
Ultimately promotion is about the ability to inspire someone else to do something, be it watch your trailer, come to a show, or join your mailing list. To do is you have to find a unique selling point, you have to be interesting and you have to be submerged in the world so that you can comment on it. From here, other will spread the word about your niche theatre and that personal recommendation is proven to be the strongest promotion of all.