Digital vs. Traditional: How to Get Butts in Seats

I believe in a world where anything is possible. Thanks to the rise of social media (and other forms of digital marketing), every single one of us can make our own audiences, opportunities, and work. We all have the ability to reach seven billion people with the touch of a button: publish.

The question today is how to get an audience to leave their homes, phones, and computers to come witness your work live, ideally, buying a ticket! When self-producing, what’s the best way to get butts in seats?

Today’s blog is a conversation about resources—digital versus traditional marketing—and the differences between marketing and selling. Let’s start with resources:

It’s a lot of work to build, market, sell, and deliver something! I know from experience that when you try to do it all, you’re going to run low on resources, meaning your time, money, and/or energy. You have to spend (or invest in) these things wisely.

When choosing the best ways to market and sell your work, factor in (if not prioritize) the time, money, and energy of your audience. Unless it’s a commercial production, the audience is likely going to be mostly friends of those involved. You want to find the best methods for both sides’ resources—you and your audience.

Digital marketing is economical. You can reach a targeted audience cheaply and quickly and convert them into sales. Click. Shopping cart. See you there! Easy and breezy on both sides.

However, traditional marketing (which includes print, radio, television, etc.) is still highly effective. For a slightly larger investment, printed marketing offers a tangible and often repeated impression. Recipients may rediscover your postcard (as an example) on their desk, pinned to the wall, in their bag, etc. That means repeated impressions—which often converts to sales. The downside to traditional marketing is that it asks one more action of your audience. They have to call, email, type a link, or visit a location to execute a transaction!

Traditional marketing makes it clear you’re serious. You’ve invested and (hopefully) targeted your message. Digital offers more of an experience with instant and exclusive photos, videos, and stories. I find digital marketing to be easier, more economical, and definitely more engaging. However, I think an effective marketing strategy utilizes a mixture of both forms.

Take note: There’s a difference between marketing and selling. Marketing is getting the word out. Selling is getting butts in seats. Naturally, marketing should lead to sales, but many forget that!

Whether you go digital or traditional, I’d encourage you to set up online sales. This way, you’re aware if your marketing is working (or not) early on and can adjust campaigns along the way.

If you go print, I’d encourage you to be as personal as possible with your messaging. Make it clear that you’re specifically inviting the recipient. That can be a handwritten note or a typed value proposition that feels very personal. (A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. What’s in it for me? Why should I buy or attend?) An easy way to do this is to convey the value of what you’re selling in second person. That’s something like “You will walk away forever changed.” I will?!

Whether digital or traditional, share a message that’s emotional. We make gut decisions and purchases based on feelings. Therefore, use emotional triggers. Tell a story—the plot, the journey of creation, why you’re an artist, or what this piece means to you. Touch your audience before they get to experience you or your work live.


What’s the most creative way you’ve seen a show marketed? Leave a comment below!