4 Direct Mail Ideas Straight From Broadway

Can direct mail get people away from their screens and into theater seats?

Can direct mail get people away from all of their screens and into theater seats?

Live musicals on TV are events that draw big ratings, and it’s next to impossible to get a ticket to “Hamilton.” But at the same time, lots of shows and theaters struggle.

When I volunteered for a performing arts theater a few years ago, I wondered how so many groups survived from one year to the next. Successfully marketing a show can be one of the hardest things to achieve in the world of theatre, no matter where you are.

So, how can they use direct mail to engage theatergoers?

I looked at a lot of mail we collect at Who’s Mailing What! for some quick answers.

1. Make Print Really Stand Out
Star Power_02There are lots of ways to take advantage of print. Using high quality paper and images is one. I loved this mail piece with a powerful image of Lupita Nyong’o, the star of “Eclipsed.”

Here’s another I liked, from Roundabout Theatre Company. It used  foil stamping to make this promotion for “She Loves Me” shine.


2. Leverage Star Power
Star Power_01Stars of film, TV, and music bring a built-in audience with them to the theater stage as performers or producers. Add to that the continuing stream of productions adapted from works in other media, like novels, movies, etc., and it’s clear that familiarity works in attracting audiences. Or at least in inspiring backing from investors.

3. Make A Memorable Call To Action
A few years ago, the classic “Godspell” was revived. This mailer put its ticket ordering information on a sign against a brick wall backdrop, like the ones used in the show. And, at bottom, the three social callouts cleverly borrow from verses of “Day By Day,” one of its biggest songs. Smart shows will have a social strategy in place that’s appropriate for each platform’s audience.

4. Showcase Your Awards
Humans_01This year’s telecast of the Tony Awards saw its highest ratings in 15 years. Maybe it was driven by the success of “Hamilton”, but people still pay attention to industry recognition.

There are other ideas. Some older direct mail included CDs with music samples to give people a taste of the experience. That’s great content that can be delivered online today.

Because of increasing postage costs, mass mail in this market no longer makes sense, if it ever did. And, continual email blasts mean more unsubscribes.

As in every other niche, more precise targeting is key, with better demographic research on audiences and personas that allows limited budget dollars to be spent more wisely.

This One’s for the Moms: A Mother’s Day Swipe File

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and as is usually the case with holidays and special events, my inbox didn’t let me forget it. While we’re all sufficiently brunched and flowered out, let’s take a look at six of the best Mother’s Day themed emails that I’ve come across in the last few weeks.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and as is usually the case with holidays and special events, my inbox didn’t let me forget it. (Not that I would have anyway … love you Mom!) While we’re all sufficiently brunched and flowered out, let’s take a look at six of the best Mother’s Day themed emails that I’ve come across in the last few weeks.

From: Broadway Boosters
Subj.: Happy Mother’s Day from Golde

Why I like it: Partly because of personal bias; Fiddler on the Roof just happens to be one of my favorite musicals of all time. But this email was a winner anyway. The nice little video from the musical’s matriarch was a sweet and clever way to tie in the holiday and promote the show. The design and personalization are keepers too.


From: LivingSocial
Subj.: Keep Calm and Shop for Mom

Why I like it: The whole “Keep calm and _______” meme is honestly a few years stale, but I give this one credit because it’s so catchy. Extra points for the simply pretty art and the creative sale itself.


From: TLCme
Subj.: Have You Bought Your Mother’s Day Gift Yet?

Why I like it: I love guilt-trippy reminder subject lines, they’re so to-the-point and effective. The clincher: “9 Perfect Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20” is sure to get those click rates high.


From: Charming Charlie
Subj.: The flowers your mom really wants!

Why I like it:  I love an email that judges other emails. As a matter of fact, I did receive no less than 20 emails from flower services in the days leading up to Mother’s Day, and you’ll notice none of them made this post. Most just felt a little uninspired, same old. Charming Charlie assumed this would be the case, and took the opportunity to one-up them in this tongue-in-cheek promo for floral necklaces. And hey, they’re right — my mom would like this more than flowers.


From: Hallmark
Subj.: Send Mom Some Love

Why I like it: Speaking of flowers, Hallmark made use of them in this cute, colorful, cartoon design. Of course Hallmark is in its element during sentimental holidays, so it’s no surprise they came through on their Mother’s Day campaigns. Definitely a smart time to offer a good deal for their eCards subscription service. I had to cut the image off, but the email also showed thumbnails of some of the Mother’s Day eCards you can find in their collection, a convenient way to show rather than tell readers why they should sign up.


From: Lush
Subj.: Everyone and their mother will love this

Why I like it: Okay first of all? That subject line, though. Cmoooooooooooon the puns are my weakness. Next — that present graphic is actually an animated gif, very nice touch. The copy is good, and the link to a curated Mother’s Day Collection is good. There’s not even a special deal involved here but they’ve got me clicking through anyway.



That wraps up my mini-swipe collection for today. I want to wish all the moms a truly fab belated Mother’s Day. If you got nothing else from this blog post, at least you now have a nice little collection of emails you can forward to any forgetful or procrastinating kids who might need an idea or a reminder of what they might owe you. You’re welcome!