A first click is like a first date.

I’ve been watching a lot of banner advertising for shows lately, especially on news sites like Playbill (as opposed to shopping sites, like Broadway.com).  And, of course, the most common call-to-action on those 468 x 60s is “Buy Tickets” or “Get Tickets”, and so forth.

And that may be just fine and dandy for shows that are in the middle of their marketing life cycle, when the odds are high that the viewer has seen a good chunk of impressions before viewing that online print ad we call banners.

But what about shows during their launch phase?

Think about it . . . what would you do?

You’re online, reading an article about something fun that a new show is doing, and up pops an ad for a new play.  It’s a play that you’ve never heard of before, a play by someone you’ve never heard of before, and maybe it stars someone you’ve kind of heard of before.

Would you buy a $130+ ticket with one click?

Let me put it in a PG-13 kind-of-way . . .

Would you sleep with someone on the first date that you were only kind of attracted to?

Do we really expect our customers to commit over $100 AND 3-4 hours of their lives (commuting time counts).  Remember, getting someone to buy a theater ticket is a lot different than getting someone to buy, oh, a pair of pants, because it involves a cash investment and a time investment, which is probably 3x as valuable as the money to a lot of folks.

Yet knowing that this conversion is such a long shot for most shows, we go for it anyway, like a stupid frat boy who thinks he’s going to get lucky just by telling people how much he can bench.

Why don’t we try dating our customers first?

Why not use your banners to get them to sign up to your email list, so you can drip marketing messages to them and get them to buy later?  Why not use banners to get them to click-thru to exclusive content that can give them a richer understanding of the experience they’ll get at your show, so they’ll be more inclined to buy later?  Why not use your banners to play a game with them?

What banners do you click?

No advertising should ever exist without a call to action.  But if the odds of you getting action on your first click are so low, then why not try a different strategy instead.

Because if you don’t, that’s when you’ll really be f#$*ed.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.