If you’re involved in marketing theatre, trying to get budget for a campaign seems harder than relaxing on a one legged rocking chair.


You’ve been in tough meetings where funding for your marketing activity come under scrutiny and all eyes in the room lock onto you.


Sweat builds in your palms, your throat tightens as you gulp.  Don’t they understand?  Your marketing activity is not only required but also completely justified.


Still, the guillotine slices.  Excuses pour forth from the financiers.  Reason takes a back seat.


“Times are tough.”  “We’re looking at other ways to spend.” “You need to be more efficient.”  “It’s going to be a difficult year.”  “It’s been a difficult year.” None of these are new.  They’ve been used before.


Even so, the show must go on.


As you walk out of the meeting knowing that a lot of the activity you had planned next year may have to be cut, doubt sinks in.


What can you do?  With limited budget you need ways to maximise your spend.


Luckily, we have compiled a list of 9 FREE marketing tools that every theatre should be using.


If you aren’t currently using any of these tools and you find yourself with little or tight marketing budgets, try them out.  See how they go for you!


1. Google Analytics

If you’re after insight into your website’s performance or any other myriad of metrics – you’ve come to the right place.  Over the last decade, Google has put together a vast resource for any small organisation to draw upon to look into key criteria of their website.


For many theatre’s, their website is a central interface between you and their audience.  Often, it may even be the first contact between one another.  As such, getting insight on your website should be critical for any arts organisation.


The only prerequisite for using Google Analytics is having a Google Analytics account.  If you’re one of the 37 people worldwide that don’t have one yet, sign up, register your website, and start tracking the metrics that are available!


2. Evernote

Have you ever been out of the office, and needed to take down someimportant information that you or your team can use later?  Have you ever seen anything on the web that you want to save and use in the future – perhaps on another device.


Evernote makes this easy with easily shareable notes & notebooks between people you want to.  You can even install an Evernote application on your web browser so that when you stumble across some great information you can use later, you can click the Evernote icon in your browser and it syncs it to your devices.


3. Polldaddy

If you think that because your marketing budgets are getting cut, you’re going to have to cut back on ways to get customer insight.


Don’t. You. Dare.


Polldaddy is a tool that you can use online and offline to create survey’s and use on various devices.  Qualitative information from your audience will be critical to understand changes in your audience over time, and by using Polldaddy you can capture these changes.


Firstly you can set up an online questionnaire for an email marketing campaignto your audience, you can then sync that questionnaire to a tablet for use at your production, and on the way home from the production you can view the results & statistics that you’ve generated, and build some useful insights.


4. Google Drive

If you’re after a mass storage area for your creative designs, documents, insight, or your general information, you’ll need either an internal intranet, or an online space to save your documents.


There has been speculation lately about the advantages of Google Drive over Dropbox, and while both are great to use and Dropbox is easier to share information between groups and individuals, the pure amount of 15GB space available to lock your documents away via Google Drive makes it hard to look past.


5. Hootsuite

Is your social media reactive or proactive?  Do you schedule your tweets?  Do you plan your Facebook posts?  Do you see what is happening in your Linked In groups?


You should.


Hootsuite is a free social media management tool that allows you to save and schedule various updates to 5 social networks.  You can plan what your tweets will say, when they are scheduled to go live, and measure your Twitter activity and following via plugins such as…


6. Social Bro

Social Bro is a Twitter specific tool accessed via an internet browser however can also be used as a plugin to your Hootsuite account.


Hootsuite provides you with information on your follower/ing lists, but you can also see the activity, or the inactivity of your Twitter community, the size of your community, it’s forecasted growth, who has unfollowed you, and which users are active, inactive, or highly influential.


One of the most useful pieces of information Social Bro is able to provide though is a ‘word cloud’ of words and topics featured in tweets by your friends and followers so there’s no reason you can’t join or create meaningful conversations.


7.  Bitly

Also on Twitter – do you know which tweets people are responding to and interacting with?  Which links get the most click throughs?  Which links are favourite, or re tweeted the most?


Bitly is a URL shortcode generator, allowing you to shorten your long web pages and content into shorter formats.  Available as a plugin within most CRM’s such as WordPress, the advantage of using Bitly to create your short codes are the analytics that you can run and the information you’re presented with such as how often, when where, and even who is sharing your links!


8. Mailchimp

At even the most basic level of marketing, every theatre should be capturing email addresses from their audience wherever and whenever they can.


Why – email marketing campaigns of course.


Maichimp is a free email marketing program that allows you to build a subscriber base of 2,000, and to send 12,000 email campaigns before upgrading to a higher plan.


As part of the basic packages, there are an array of reports for you to view such as the quantity of emails sent, how many were opened, how many received clicks through, and how that relates to previous campaigns you manage as well as industry averages.


9. Google Adwords: Keyword Planner

If you are going to seriously think about optimising your SEO strategy, or looking at creating a PPC campaign, Google’s Keyword Planner is a tool that you should be visiting frequently.


Using this tool, you can get an idea about the types of keywords people are searching for that relate to your production, the quantity of monthly searches, how similar keywords may perform, and even get some insight into the competitiveness of key words or terms based on search frequency.



You don’t have to start using each of these marketing tools immediately.  What you could do, is learn to use just one.  Become a master of it; understand how it fits into your marketing and then move onto another.


Most of these tools also have features you can upgrade to, so if you start to see real benefit in the free version, and there’s a need you can fill by upgrading.  Do it.


There’s no reason why these free marketing tools can’t be used to greatly enhance your current marketing.


Are there any free marketing tools that you swear by that we haven’t listed?