I wrote the original version of this on my food blog, The Foodie Gift Hunter. I thought after 4 years, like many Fringe shows, it might be worth revisiting and give it a slightly different focus.
You might think that the answer to the question is “not much”. But can you imagine ever saying these things? Or maybe you might have done already. These were all based on overhearing a would be full-time actor on the phone. See what you think.
“Word of mouth hasn’t taken off”
I think we can all relate to that. Sometimes in spite of all the graft, the best content, the most activity, it’s still not happening. Yet.
It’s tough at Edinburgh, as you’ve probably only got two weeks to make it happen. Two weeks at the biggest arts festival in the UK. That’s a lot of noise to get over.
When I’ve had conversations with food and drink producers at events, then you often hear the same. There’s been no big order yet. No big leap in followers.
My point is sometimes you just have to keep doing the graft. Keep analysing your data, your results, what’s working and what’s not. And keep going.
“It’s all down to the work we put in”
When isn’t it?
Behind every lucky break is usually a whole lot of hard work.
Yes, there’s always a bit about being in the right place at the right time. Doesn’t work though, certainly not in the long term, if your product isn’t great. Which is probably why you keep doing the work to hone your product, keep making improvements.
“It’s really tiring”
Like the last point, when isn’t it? Running your own business has many upsides, but there are times when it can just be plain knackering.
If you’ve ever been to the Fringe, then you’ll have come across actors, musicians, comedians out there every day, pitching their show to anyone who will listen.
The reality is that customers are not looking for your product every day. They might not be looking on the day you put content out there. That’s why you have to keep showing up, consistently. You never know when it might be the day they’re looking for you.
“We’re living in a caravan”
Yes, sometimes five-star luxury has to wait. I can’t think of many small business owners who are living it up in top hotels when they are out on the road doing trade fairs and consumer shows.
Really it’s about priorities, about where and what you choose to invest in. The trade-offs you make. Travelodge versus Ritz really comes down to what else could you do with the money.
“There’s an agent coming tomorrow”
Isn’t there always? What’s your equivalent? Maybe a buyer from a big chain. Perhaps they’ll turn up, and maybe they’ll order.
Back to the hard work point. Whenever they turn up, your product to be great. Every day, not just some mythical tomorrow. It might be that the buyer tomorrow is not the best person for your business. There might be other tomorrows that are even more important for you.
“We have met some interesting people”
This might well be why your other tomorrows are important. You just never know who you will meet, or talk to, or connect with. That theme of graft, of turning up, is a constant. It doesn’t matter whether you’re putting on a show or selling cheese. The building of an audience is important to everyone.
“We’ve sold 85% of our tickets”
Why do you do trade fairs? Or consumer shows? I would imagine that quite often they are not money spinners right in the moment. I imagine Edinburgh is a bit the same.
At the end of it though it probably comes down to the exposure, the networking and maybe even the lucky break.
Selling 85% would seem like quite a good result to me, particularly given that I sat in some shows that were somewhat empty. Everyone has to begin somewhere though. Even Michael McIntyre was unlikely to have started out by selling out Wembley.
“Know Your Audience”
Actually, this one didn’t come from the actor; this one comes from me. This wasn’t a particularly high performing post on my other blog. The reason is that had little relevance to my audience, who were there to read about nice things to buy for friends and family, or nice places to eat and stay.
They were not running their own businesses for the most part. They are not thinking about the graft of building an audience day in day out. So there was a very limited appeal to it for my audience. It probably was a case of me writing something that I wanted to write, rather than something my audience wanted to read.
Knowing your audience is key, as is writing for them, and only them.
Looking beyond your own industry can be revealing, and helpful, and perhaps just give you some new ideas on things to do. Or you could just go up to Edinburgh and see an incredible mix of shows. I think it’s fascinating how many parallels you can make though. What would you see as key to getting your “show” out there?