(...and why you need to keep it up-to-date!)
These days most amdram societies have their own website. And why not? The majority of the population spend hours every day looking at their smartphones, tablets and PCs and there is a general expectation that you will have a website. If your society doesn’t have one, you’re missing out on a crucial publicity and communication tool. And if you do have one, you need to check that it meets your needs. Let me tell you why…
- You can promote your shows (and any other events)
Front and centre of every amdram website should be the next show. It’s what you do and you need to let people know what’s on so they can buy tickets and fill your theatre. A good website will display your next show prominently on your front page and give your potential audience information on what it’s about, when and where it’s on and how to buy tickets. While posters, radio ads and other advertising are good for raising awareness, your website gives the prospective punter all the information and time to digest it. And any changes to the info (such as additional dates or ticket offers) are easy and free to make.
- You can sell tickets
Once your audience is hooked, they’ll want to buy tickets there and then, while they’re on your website. Don’t let them get away! If you only sell tickets by phone, then obviously the phone number needs to be on the website, but it’s better to have a contact form too, so they can email you with their order. Better still, you can use an online ticket agency: for a small per-ticket fee, customers can buy online 24/7 using their debit or credit card. You get certainty of payment, a professional-looking sales approach and less work for your Ticket Secretary! And you can usually run your existing ticket sales alongside using the same system.
- You can present your “brand”
OK, this sounds a little “corporate” but your website must present a positive impression of your society and their shows. If it looks professional, up-to-date and friendly, then that’s how your prospective audience and members will see your society. If it looks amateurish and out of date, will people want to join your society and watch your shows? If you can include some evidence of the quality of your shows (such as awards, reviews, comments, etc.), this can only add to the attraction.
- You can keep your members informed
Your website should also meet the needs of your members. As well as show information, your members will want to see news, social events, rehearsal details, meetings, etc. To keep this information away from the general public, you should have a separate members’ page, preferably a private one which members need to log in to. You can also use your website to email newsletters and information out to members and people on your mailing list.
- You can entice new members
Every society needs new members, and your website can do a great recruiting job if you give information on how to join (and, of course, why – see “brand” above). Again, a contact form is useful here. It can be quite daunting to join an amdram society, but putting all the information on your website and providing a quick and easy way to make contact can ease that first step.
Once you have a website, you MUST keep it up to date. In a quick check of 15 local societies just now, 40% were still advertising a production which had finished – some were 2 months ago! That can’t be good. Not only are you missing out on publicity for your next show, but it makes the website – and therefore the society - look neglected; in a worst case scenario, visitors might wonder if the society has closed down! If your website doesn’t allow you to keep it up to date easily, it’s not up to the job of representing your society. You shouldn’t need a degree in Computer Science or knowledge of coding; anyone who has a PC should be able to update it.