The Day in the life of a venue marketer

The second instalment of our ‘Day in the Life of’ series comes from Will Sawney, the Press and Marketing Manager for TOM The Old Market Theatre in Brighton:


Good morning, and welcome to my day. I’m Will Sawney, press & marketing manager at TOM The Old Market, a cultural venue in Brighton & Hove.

09:59am – I’m the envy of my flat mates, but starting at 10am means finishing work as our evening show is beginning. Tonight is Miranda Hart’s work in progress, so we’ve got 300 audience members heading our way.

10:05am – My first task is to check through our various web pages; all the social media, venue website, public inboxes. My goal is to keep them all fresh and engaging but also to fairly represent each of our many shows. It can be quite a contentious task.

10:30am – I’m meeting with the producer of a theatrical club night, booked for later this season. She wants to know how we can help sell her show, and how she should spend the remainder her small marketing budget.

I want to know more about the night itself. Together, we will come up with step-by-step marketing plan that divides up tasks between us.

11:12am – A customer calls to book tickets for Hawkwind, who are performing later this year. Our small team shares all box office calls, which – whilst time consuming – provides instant “market research” for me. Why are they booking this particular show? Have they visited us before? It’s all important knowledge. [This particular caller, however, clearly isn’t up for a chat; gig-bookers definitely seem the most brisk!]

11:15am – The drudgery of my day involves uploading listings information onto ten or more websites. My goal is to make sure that we appear everywhere online that audiences look for events… but the task becomes laborious.

11:58am – My first of multiple daily sales calls; companies pitch me advertising space everywhere from magazines to bicycle racks. Marketing budgets are tight, so I have become fairly adept at the art of fobbing off.

12:20pm – Duncan, who is reviews editor at our local paper, has requested various tickets for upcoming shows. I book in the ones for our co-produced shows, then pass on other requests to various event producers. We like journalists to see as many events as possible, but ultimately it’s up to the shows to decide.

12:45pm – Lunch at my desk. I made a chilli last night, so I’ve got that in my Black & Blum lunchbox (highly recommended, neat and nifty.)

1:35pm – I’ve come into town center, primarily to drop off some gig tickets, posters and brochures to a local music shop. They’re one of a handful of external sellers who help promote shows, taking a booking fee for themselves…

1:45pm – …but while I’m here, it’s good to get out from behind the desk and sell tickets the old fashioned way; on the streets. My three flyering tips: 1) Say “Hello” first, otherwise your opening line isn’t heard, 2) Hold your flyer at elbow height, rather than down by your waist, 3) Retain the positive mindset ‘someone really wants this, I just have to find them’.

3:38pm – Back in the office, Helen is close to programming a new piece of theatre. Before the deal is done she wants to know my thoughts: how well might it sell; how many nights should we book; what marketing budget would I need? The answers require a complex mixture of experience and guesswork.

3:00pm – Marketing can feel like endless admin, but creativity is often what gets the real results. Today I’m putting together a photo blog entitled ‘The Making Of… The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey’, because I’ve found that blogs have much greater ‘share-ability’ than e-flyers.

4:45pm – There are more listings to update, then I’m setting up front of house for tonight’s show: new posters, relevant flyers, promotion boards.

6:06pm – Our evening event staff have arrived, so I pass on messages to Emma on box office (there’s a group arriving who need to pick up tickets separately) and all stewards (please can they exit flyer for The Paper Cinema.)

6:30pm – Audience are arriving. Anticipation for Miranda Hart’s show runs high, but I’m happy that people are also reading my flyers, watching the promo videos and enjoying being in our bar. I’m content, and having seen the show last night, that’s me all done for the day.