Flyering can be your best and worst experience of the Fringe. At its best it allows you to interact with your future audience and get bums on seats. At its worst it can mean hours stood on the Royal Mile, in the rain, engaging with disinterested tourists who question your environmental and performance credentials. But it can be a positive experience and strategy is key – here are our top tips for flyering at the Edinburgh Fringe!
Flyer with a friend
Flyering in the rain, tired from an after-show party in Brewhemia, getting harassed by a vocal lady visiting from Tunbridge Wells on how your show is a copy of one she thinks she saw in Ipswich in 1972 is never fun. Shared with a friend it can be!
More of your team out flyering means more engagement with potential audience members. You have heard the adage about buses come along in threes? That happens when you are flyering on the Royal Mile too, and after being ignored for 10 minutes you can guarantee that the three large family groups all wanting to know about your show will all converge simultaneously. Easier to handle as a group.
Visually too , a friend or group will give you so much more presence when flyering. Of course, it’s not always possible to have more than one person there. If not, offer to support another act if they will support you back in return. You will make a new friend, and learn their flyering techniques!
Branding is key
Does your flyer branding match your poster branding? And your poster branding match our website branding? And your website branding match your social media branding? And your social media branding match your Fringe listing branding? Consistency is key! If you saw an airline company handing out orange flyers on the Royal Mile, I would wager you would instantly know which one! And you could guess the exact shade of orange their poster would be too, without even seeing it right? Big companies know the importance of using consistent fonts, colours, images and messages in their branding and you should too!
If you need help on this, engage with a professional (graphic) designer. Because an amateurish flyer will equate in people’s minds to an amateurish performer that they do not want to invest their time and money in coming to see.
Don’t ignore the men in suits!
This tip came from our founder who walks the Royal Mile during Fringe on a lunchtime. It astounded him that a suit was a flyer repellent to such an extent that he walked past one University group 16 times (he counted!), before they engaged with him and gave out a flyer.
What had not occurred to the Uni group was that people in business wear are actually the best people to engage with! For one, they are much more likely to live in Edinburgh and therefore come and see your show at some point over the course of its run. Secondly, they are likely to work in an office; and in Edinburgh offices over August one of the main topics of conversation is the Fringe! Telling office boy ‘Calum’ about your show and giving him 10 flyers to put in his office kitchen is likely to result in far more ticket sales and awareness of your show than talking to tourist ‘Dave’!
Location, Location, Location!
Targeting can be key! Whilst flyering on the Royal Mile is a must for any first-time Fringe performer and great for building brand awareness, you will quickly learn there are other (better) locations!
Does your show cover a niche or will it appeal to a specific demographic? Then head to where that demographic will be located! Does you show have a religious theme? Perhaps flyer outside a busy church when the congregation is leaving? Does you show have an LGBT theme? Maybe head down to Edinburgh’s Pink Triangle and flyer to punters leaving CC Blooms or The Street? Late night comedy show? Head to the Grassmarket mid-evening and flyer people leaving the pubs.
Perhaps head places too where you know you will have a captive audience! I am amazed I have never seen anyone flyer commuters waiting at tram or bus stops yet. Perfect if you want to give them a mini gig whilst they wait!
#TakeAPhoto and #SustainableFringe
There are environmental concerns around flyering and the inevitable waste it produces. Our environmental writer, Matt Turner, offered some great tips for the Fringe last year for performers to reduce their environmental impact. You can read his article here.
This year, groups such as Staging Change are asking performers to think differently about flyering. Firstly they are asking potential audience members to snap a photo of flyers instead of taking them. On social media they are campaigning on this issue using the #TakeAPhoto hashtag.
Secondly, they are asking performers to make sure that their flyers can be recycled and to include the below graphic on their flyers.
Two small changes but potentially one big impact!
Stand out from the crowd!
If you have props and a costume, use them to help you stand out from the crowds in busy places such as the Royal Mile. They also help you with the unified branding of your show.
Gimmicks can help too – free food, people ‘dead’ on the ground advertising a crime thriller, free hugs, giant robots and fake arguments were all spotted on the Royal Mile by our team last year. Only use gimmicks though if they help you promote your show. If people walk away without a flyer and a perception your £10 a head show at the Pleasance is a free Street Show, you have given out the wrong message.
Use a #Hashtag
If you have gone to the trouble of bringing your costume and props along, people will invariably want a ‘Kodak moment’ with you. Use that opportunity to spread awareness of your show! Choose a short and memorable hashtag that relates to your show, print it on your flyer, then ask every punter who takes their photo with you to use the hashtag when they share the photo on their social media. A great way to track interest in your show!
Flyer outside the Half Price Hut
Need to bolster your ticket sales? A good place to stand would be close to the half-price ticket sale huts, such as the ones next to the National Gallery. That is because you will be pitching to punters who have yet to buy tickets and as such will be more willing to take a chance on an unknown show.
It sounds obvious but a smiley welcoming face will encourage people to talk to you about your show! Standing around checking your phone or chatting with your co-stars will not! The personal interaction you get from chatting to punters may well spark a personal connection for them to your show (‘oh – I didn’t realise you were from my hometown!’), that may further encourage them to actually come along!
Make every flyer count
Flyers cost you in both time and money and you want to make your investment make a return in ticket sales. In can be tempting to hand one out to every stranger walking past, whether they want a flyer or not. Despite all your frantic efforts, 99% will end up discarded. So how do you change that and increase the conversion rate of flyers handed out vs resultant ticket sales?
Most importantly, be selective in who you hand your flyer to. Only give them to people you have engaged with and seem interested in your show. Your success rate has just doubled!
But how do you further that success rate? I talked last year with a stand-up comedian who had a great take on flyering and a method that actually worked.
”Every year I spent hundreds on copy and thought the more I spent on poster and flyer design would equate somehow into ticket sales. I was totally wrong. Don’t get me wrong you still need to spend money on getting a professionally designed product that reflects your personal brand. But you know what – this isn’t an art show! And this was my biggest revelation one evening drinking in the Tron. I was talking to a guy who had come to see my show. Had he come along to my show because he liked my flyer design? Nope! He came because I had forgot to put my Twitter account name on my flyer so I had jotted it down on the back, he started following and ended up in the audience. So the next year I omitted more stuff from my flyer, and took along my lucky pen. I had worked out that my two best marketing buddies were 1) my banter and 2) my pen. By omitting those details, punters talked to me more and felt they were getting info others didn’t have. It gave value to my flyer. That human interaction and jotting down details that were personal to the punter meant they were far less likely to throw away my flyer. And far more likely too to look up the show info & website address if they had ‘asked’ for them (even if I prompted them!) So no snazzy gimmicks, giant puppets, nakedness, free biscuits or flash mob singing! Just a simple pen and I saw my follow through on flyers increase by 40-50%!”