4 Ways to Utilize Ensemble-Based Marketing

I have been an actor for many, many years, but I recently came upon my nine-year anniversary as a New York actor. It was a thrilling change from my smaller town of San Diego (which is big geographically but still has that small town feel). One of the toughest things about moving to this big city was building a new community, of which I had so much in my hometown. The power of community is so valuable to actors, and most of the time we don’t even realize we have it. Most of the time, we feel like we are trudging through this business all on our own.

The idea for this article actually stems from a Facebook status I saw a few weeks ago. A very talented musical director-singer posted a request to the universe, stating he wanted theaters to elect one person to create a Facebook event for their show where everyone can “invite friends to this event,” rather than five people separately creating events. My friend cited a particular problem where he got invited to one event by two different people and got confused as to where he should RSVP.

As actors have started to become more savvy with social networking and have begun taking their marketing into their own hands, one element seems to have gone missing: Actors are no longer asking for the help and support of their peers.

There are so many amazing ways that you can team up with your fellow actors in support of your marketing efforts, which will really help you work smarter and not harder. I call it ensemble-based marketing. Here are a couple of ideas to help you reach your goals more easily.

1. Poll your cast-mates to find out what their goals are in getting audiences to attend, and then team up to help get the word out. There are two different ways to do this. One: You can divide up a major mailing list (like folks listed in Backstage's Call Sheet), with each actor committing to mailing to a set amount of contacts. Two (and even more powerful): You can choose a smaller set of folks, preferably ones you already know, and have every cast member send a separate postcard so that each recipient receives several invitations. (Be sure to list all cast members on your postcard!) I once did a show and a fellow actor was trying to get his agent to attend. I had met the agent once before, so I agreed to send a postcard mentioning that I was also doing the show, and that his client so was great that the agent should come to see him. Low and behold, the agent came to the show and brought another person from the office. I’d like to think it was our double team effort that worked!

2. Advertise the show with your profile photos. I was on a Facebook event page for a fundraiser recently I started to notice that a bunch of the “yes” RSVPs were from actors who had the same profile picture. And what was the picture? It was the flyer for a play they were all doing. And this play was the very play for which that the fundraiser was being held. The fact that 4–5 people had the same profile image really caught my eye, and I found myself interested in the project they were doing. And I was very impressed by the teamwork of the cast in communicating their show to the world.

3. For those of you doing nonunion theater, talk to your producer and see if they would be willing to distribute industry packets to industry folks at your performances. (For many AEA shows, producers are required to have these available.) Get together with your cast-mates and collect 20–25 headshots and résumés along with 20–25 nicely made pocket folders. Collate the headshots and résumés so that each folder has a copy of each actor’s information. This is an excellent way to make sure that industry professionals have your information—especially if you give a stellar performance.

4. As my friend suggested, choose one person to create the Facebook event, and then each actor can click the “invite more people” link to get more folks on the list. Not only will it be easier on your potential audience members to have one place to view the information, but the amount of activity on the page will skyrocket (with lots of “yes” RSVPs) which will look very impressive.

Have a success story with ensemble-based marketing? Write a comment here and inspires others with your story!

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Erin Cronican
Erin Cronican is a professional actor (SAG-AFTRA/AEA) with over 20 years of experience performing in film, plays and musicals (NYC, L.A., regionally), and on television. She also produces and directs with the Seeing Place Theater, a critically acclaimed non-profit indie company in NYC.
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