Ashley Frieze – You’ve Gotta Hand It To Them

Stop annoying people!

Flyering, eh? Can’t live with it, can’t live without an audience.

There are going to be late teenage or early twenties girls in suspenders, looking cold, probably, handing out flyers with semi-rude pictures of themselves on, because they’re in some sort of student production. This may be amusing and titillating, but ultimately it’s no way for a man like me to attempt to get an audience for myself.

I’ve been handing out flyers at the Fringe since 2004. Back in 2004 I was flyering for a paid show and needed to “close the deal” when I gave a flyer to make sure we didn’t lose our shirts (figuratively… my actual shirt did come off in the show, but that’s another story for another day). When the pressure is on to get bums on seats, you learn a few tricks.

In flyering terms there are only really 3 ways of doing it.

  1. Make a show of yourself and hope people ask you for a flyer
  2. Scattergun flyers into random hands: as many as possible
  3. Make personal 1:1 conversations and tell people to come and see your show, then give them the flyer as a memento

My own view is that (1) rarely works very well. Sure, you can be memorable as the person who looked nice or was very amusing on the street, but it doesn’t necessarily attract your audience. This may be different if you’re a choir and can literally do your show where you stand.

Strategy (2) is not to be sniffed at. If you can only get flyers in hands, then they’ll still have an effect. Eye contact is good. Not scaring people as they come near will help. Putting a flyer at “take me” level – near someone’s hand – will result in the grab reflex kicking in. Ultimately, though, your flyer had better be pretty self-explanatory, or this method will only build awareness, not turning-up-ness.

My own preference is for (3). Actually, you’re not out flyering, you’re out telling people to come to your show. You need to find your audience and this involves talking to people and finding out what sort of thing they like to see. Then you tell them that your show is what they want to see. It’s simple.

But where do these people come from? In most scenarios, they don’t exist. In Edinburgh, though, there are festival goers everywhere. You could stand outside a show that’s like yours and hand out flyers to people who are leaving it, or waiting to go into it, and you’ve got a possible set of possible audience members right there.

You could find where people are queuing for tickets, or other Fringe things, and you could talk to the people there.

You can go round the tables at a venue, or a pub near a venue, and see if people are show watching. At the world’s largest comedy festival, people kind of expect to have some approach made to them regarding shows.

For pity’s sake, though, don’t be a dick. Seriously. No matter how much crap you get from the putative recipients of your flyers, no matter how desperate you feel. No matter how unfair it seems, or how down you are, do not take it out on the punters through doing something stupid, or being unpleasant to them. If you do then nobody will take your flyers anyway, and you’ll make it harder for everyone else.

What if they say no? Move on. I sometimes comically put the rejected flyer to the back of the pack to have a good think about what it’s done, smile at the next person as if to say “ah well” and then start again. Bear in mind, if you’re flyering a queue or gathering, that everyone can see your behaviour and will decide whether to be a “no” based on how you treat people.

One final tip. Flyering is about selling your show and you can easily get into the “Chugger” (charity mugger) frame of mind, where you’re reeling off a script (almost without knowing what the words mean) and being told to sod off a lot. This is where you need to stop, take time out, think about how to explain your show to people without using the same words as before, get into your happy place, and then start again.

I quite like flyering.

I like to tell people to come and see a show I believe in.

That’s said, I’m paying some people to flyer for me this year. Those rooms don’t fill themselves, and the more people out there telling audience members to visit me, the better. As a one-man show, I’ve only got a certain amount of flyering coverage I can personally achieve. Shows with a bigger cast should make a rota where everyone covers a certain number of flyering hours per day.


It’s not a science.

Minimum 90 minutes flyering a day. Be nice to them, and give them lots of coloured paper.

Ashley Frieze – The Seven Deadly Sings (Remastered), 2:30PM, 13-28 August, Pravda Room, Espionage, Venue 185. Part of the Free Festival

You can also follow Ashley on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “Ashley Frieze – You’ve Gotta Hand It To Them

  1. Last year I found putting my flyer in the free fest programme made flyering a piece of cake. They had the opposite effect. Whereas people tended to avoid flyers, they swarmed to the free festival programme, they went like hot cakes 😉

    • I’ve seen that done – indeed, I’ve done it myself. However, that only covers scattergun flyering. Depending on how captivating your flyer is, you may not get the conversion rate you need.

      One thing I didn’t mention in the article is the 5% conversion rate you’re going to get at best, from 1:1 flyering. Scatter-gun conversions are much much lower.

  2. Pingback: Ashley Frieze – Flyer Me To The Moon | Ian Fox – How to Produce a Fringe Festival Show

  3. Some other annoying tricks:

    1. Walking down the royal mile in slow motion – who tells these students to do this. It’s pointless. Unless you’re flyering for “the slow motion” show, it just makes you look like an arse.
    2. Forming a tableaux with flyers in hands – like people will want to take them because you look like a picture
    3. Forming a tableux where you’re all lying on the floor, like you’re dead.
    4. Chasing someone up the street who’s declined your flyer, pushing the flyer under their face.

    Perhaps it’s for this reason that I lost my temper today and told an arrogant student what I thought of him. I should have told him he was also suffering from the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, since he assumed his sell out show was a validation of his pushy flyering technique when there may have been no link. Instead, I just used a swear word.

  4. Pingback: Ian Fox – 2011 round up | Ian Fox – How to Produce a Fringe Festival Show

  5. Pingback: Ashley Frieze – Debrief Edinburgh Fringe 2011 | Ian Fox – How to Produce a Fringe Show

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