Exactly three and a half years ago to the day I stepped out on to the stage at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh and attempted my first 5 minutes of being a stand-up comedian.
Here’s a quick summary of my thoughts in the 6 months leading up to that moment:
“Life’s too short, try in now! You’ll only regret it if you never try it.” “But what if it goes really badly? What if people heckle? What if no one laughs?”….
“But …what if …. what if it goes well? You never know, it might go well!”
This was the line I kept telling myself. This was the line that got me to the stage door. And then all I heard was “Please welcome to the stage … Ralph Brown”
It did not go well.
If you were there on the 11th January 2016 I can only apologise for what was 5 minutes of incoherent rambling, that sounded less like a comedy show and more like a sleepy 5-year old’s first ‘Show and Tell’. But thankfully that was my worse gig by a mile and things have got better. Honest!
Fast forward 42 months, and a few hundred gigs and I’m preparing for my first full run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. And after years of planning, buying and running campaigns for clients, I’m now deep into the promotion of my own Fringe show campaign. Now it’s my turn to be the client.
And to be honest, in the beginning, I was a terrible client!
Deadlines were pushed, meetings were cancelled and marketing budgets were cut … (I mean who’s ever heard of a budget being cut because the client fancied a holiday).
But after having a stern word with myself, I changed my ways and came up with a plan. TV, Radio, Cinema and Out of Home fell ever-so-slightly outwith my budget so I knew I would have to pass on them (for now). But supposedly there would be a few other shows on at the Fringe, so I knew word of mouth alone wasn’t going to cut it against the competition. The internet? Social Media? Allegedly these are becoming quite popular these days, maybe I should try them.
I decided to start my own Facebook business page and now I’m dealing with post reach, messages, engagement and page likes from the other side and for the first time I’m deciding who I think my ‘target audience’ are. Twitter, Instagram and maybe LinkedIn posts to follow. Social media…check!
Anyone who lives in Edinburgh will know the experience of trying to navigate the Royal Mile during August with flyers coming thick and fast. I will be adding to the congestion and flyering around the city centre with my 3-15 second (depending on how angry/hungry/late people are) elevator pitch. Becoming one of THOSE flyering people…check!
Flyering will be my final daily push to get people in the door, people who I hope will have seen my take on a connected communications system. But whilst the promoted social media ads and shared Facebook posts from close friends will play their part, I still need a PR machine. Thankfully this mantle has been taken up via the (formidable) Brown family WhatsApp group, they really do believe their own hype. PR machine…check!
What I’ve learned from this experience is that you need to get creative when you are working with a limited budget. I’ll use any (free) opportunity I can in order to promote my show … So, if you fancy a FREE* comedy show, I’ll be at 52 Canoes on West Port Street every night at 9.40pm from the 2nd to the 26th of August (well apart from the 13th) and all the details can found by clicking on the link below. Company newsletter promotion…check!
*’Pay what you want’ – but free sounds better.