Looping the Loop brings world class performance to the Isle of Thanet twice a year, and supports local theatre makers. Audiences of every age and inclination will find something to entertain them at Looping the Loop – whether its an encounter with a street theatre team, a children's show that draws children in and expands their minds, or something that takes a grown up theme and gives it a fresh and surprising perspective. Live theatre is a spur for the imagination. It can ignite a spark for positive change in the minds of audience members, it's vitally important to have chances to be entertained and provoked in life, to prevent us getting stuck in tired ways of thinking and to keep us looking at the world with fresh eyes. That's why LTL matters to us as individuals and for our local area - The three towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate and the surrounding villages that make up the Isle of Thanet, on the East Kent coast of the UK.
We have come up with some things we think we need in order to succeed
Our audience research indicates that what gets people coming to Looping the Loop shows, above all else, is word of mouth – in this day and age that can include social media - but really it's about getting people talking (live) to their friends and family about what's on offer and then getting them to make plans to actually come along and see a show together.
How can we do that better than we've done to date, so that more people will come to Season Six (23rd April - 2nd May 2016)?
As well as talking to past audiences and those we know are likely to come to things, to get them to come again and perhaps to come to more shows this time around, it's about reaching out to new people, those who aren't as plugged in to all things cultural and might not usually go to the theatre, other than perhaps a pantomime or a west end production once a year, if that. We want to inspire those people to want to see something different, give them a glimpse of the excitement of live theatre and the high standard on offer at LTL, then hook them in. Let's grab that “it's Thanet, it's rubbish here” brigade (oh yes, they exist!) and open their eyes, hearts and minds! Luckily they are easier to reach than ever before thanks to Facebook groups and the like. Some guerilla social marketing posts alongside traditional PR and printed marketing materials should help us, we anticipate that our volunteer network can help with this.
Also proactively cultivating TV broadcasters with the aim of getting a mention for the festival on BBC South East or ITV Meridian, and of course the local radio stations, could give us a massive boost.
It's also about reaching those key stakeholders who can help strengthen Looping the Loop – demonstrating to them that Looping the Loop is something special and worth supporting, getting them to help amplify our marketing messages through their networks, encouraging them to talk well of us to other key stakeholders and to reach out to us with potential ways of enriching Looping the Loop programmes in the future – whether by offering use of performance spaces, by boosting our media reach (as broadcast journos could) or by helping bring about new and exciting shows in the future.
Communication happens in three realms, when we talk directly to an individual, when we talk to groups (via whatever channel) and when people talk to each other without us necessarily being part of the conversation. We can influence those conversations where people talk to each other without us having to be present, by putting out quality marketing content through multiple channels and by reaching out with tailored messages to key influencers, through online and opportunistic face to face networking.
We think the core foundations for success are
- core, quality and comprehensive content on the website, which can build and be added to over time
- a distinctive look for the season
- an early start to drip feeding tantalising snippets of information and visuals to our various target audiences, with regular invitations to them to tell their friends about what's happening and to book tickets – using content strategically and building relationships
- as much physical signage and leafleting close to the venues during the festival itself as possible, to back up all other activity and act as final call to action to get extra bums on seats.
- Street theatre teams, where budget allows, to help drive awareness and a buzz about the festival and all it stands for.
So with all that in mind we've started early this season by getting more information out into the public domain ahead of the programme being finalised, via the web, Facebook and Twitter. We're going to share our thinking about what we're aiming to do with our loyal supporters - and ask for their help - and we're going to reach out to other groups and the media.
If you can volunteer any time to help with social media posts and or distribution of programmes, posters and leaflets, or if you know a journo or group who would be interested in the Festival and can help connect us - why not come to a special evening event we're holding for volunteers on 11th February at 7pm at the recently refurbished and very lovely London Tavern in Margate (next door to the Theatre Royal Margate). Share-able details on this Facebook link. All welcome.
We'd also love to see you there if you have any ideas for activities, or would like to help out, at our event for children taking place in Broadstairs, Pierremont Park, on 2nd May, Wild Things.... watch this space for more information about that very, very soon.....
Please also feel free to post any thoughts or ideas for how else we can get the word out about the Festival in the comments below:
This post by Lorraine (Marketing and Communications for Season Six)