If you’re performing your show in person, rather than online, you should consider the best ways to market your show around the city, in addition to any online marketing you have planned. A lot of the following advice focuses on print marketing – flyers, posters, etc.
Advertise in the official Fringe programme
The Fringe Society offers advertising space in the official printed programme (and on edfringe.com) at a discounted rate for registered Fringe artists. It can be a great way to get your show noticed by engaged audiences who are already interested in browsing shows.
We'll share more information on this page when artist advertising opens ahead of Fringe 2023.
Remember, advertising is optional – show listings in the programme and on edfringe.com are included as part of your registration fee.
Unless you have proven ability and talent in graphic design, you should leave it to the professionals. It is not worth skimping in this area as your flyers, posters and adverts have a huge influence on Fringe audiences. You may be able to negotiate a reduction on a designer’s fee in exchange for an advert or credit on your publicity.
You could also contact a local art college or university, as they may be willing to take it on as a project or for a smaller fee. Put a call out for designers on social media and ask your friends to pass the information onto any design contacts they have.
It’s often difficult to develop briefs for designers if you are not used to working in this field. They’ll be best suited to come up with the creative ideas but will need to know the dimensions and specifications of the artwork they will be creating. We’ve pulled together some information on the most common formats that can be copied directly into your brief.
Plan ahead to make sure you tell the designer exactly what you need (eg A4 posters, a square image for your edfringe.com listing). This will save them time and frustration when suddenly asked to turn your listing image into a big poster.
If you have spoken to your printers about format, give your designer that information right away. If you have purchased ads on edfringe.com or any other websites or publications, get an exact specification and send that to your designer. The Fringe Society will send out a specification sheet to you for edfringe.com ads, as should other publications. Where possible, produce any print ads as pdfs, as this will preserve the quality of your text.
Have all your copy or pre-existing images and logos (including funders or sponsors) finalised and ready, at a decent size. Don’t ask a designer to produce something and then keep changing the text or adding information; if you do, expect to be charged extra.
Maintain continuity across all your marketing and media/promotion – use the same fonts, copy and basic layouts throughout. The best way to ensure consistency is through a single distinctive image that ties all your marketing material together in a creative and memorable way (we recognise this is easier said than done!).
If you have design ideas or a ‘feel’ in your head, let them know up front, but don’t be too prescriptive. You are hiring someone for their skills: let them design, but make sure you are happy with the result. If you are asking someone to do something for a low fee, they will want to design a ‘portfolio piece’, which is a compromise you might have to accept.
Don’t trust your memory. Write everything down in a formal document that both you and the designer can refer to. This will help you avoid arguments.
The most popular size for flyers is either A5 (210mm x 148.5mm) or DL (99mm x 210mm), though we’ve seen flyers range from playing cards to business cards to hand-drawn photocopies. (Remember, an unusually sized flyer might stand out from the crowd.) Your priority has to be clear information and eye-catching visuals. If you’re less familiar with flyering as a marketing tactic, don’t worry – it’ll become clear the first time you wander down Edinburgh’s High Street!
Getting the most out of your flyers
- Use striking, eye-catching visuals.
- Make sure you include all necessary information for the audience (dates, times, venue, ticket prices, age guidance, booking information). Don’t try to pack in too much beyond these essentials – it’s easy to overdo it.
- Keep the details clear and easy to read.
- Grab attention. If you plan on using a professional distribution company, think about how your flyer will look in the display racks. Use the top third of your leaflet to draw the eye.
- Avoid the Flop Factor. Use a good weight of paper so your flyer doesn’t wilt in the display racks. Your printer should be able to give you advice.
- Talk to your printer to avoid potential problems with handling format and colours.
- Ask for their advice. For example, some inks rub off when handled or packaged and some paper formats may not be appropriate for the job.
- Handle with care. Ask your printer to package and deliver your flyers in secure bundles and strong boxes. This will protect them throughout the various stages of transportation and distribution.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, some members of the public are still wary of accepting flyers, touching other people's hands, etc. On the other hand, people are now much more confident with QR codes, so it would be a good idea to print these on your posters or on a sign for audiences you’re talking to so they can scan – you can link this directly to your edfringe.com show page and audiences can book on the spot! QR code generators are widely available online and are free to use.
Posters are excellent for attracting attention and reminding audiences about your event. Many venues have poster display boards. Strong visuals are the key to a successful poster campaign as they must stand out on a wall full of other posters and work as a branding exercise for your show.
- Most posters are A3 (297mm x 420mm) or A2 (420mm x 594mm) in size. A3 is more popular at the Fringe as many places refuse oversized posters in August because there is too much competition for space.
- If your budget is really limited, consider whether investing in posters will be a good use of your money.
- Don’t fly-post. It’s illegal! (See below for further information about fly posting).
- Many UK suppliers offer special discounts for Fringe related print.
If you have gimmicks that are clever and relevant to your show, they may help attract attention. On the other hand, they are a gamble and usually expensive, so make sure that you have the necessary funds.
The best advice is: be original. In previous Fringes, gimmicky flyers have included fake money, chocolate flyers, flyers that double as hand-held fans, souvenir postcards, daily planners and playing cards.
Local Edinburgh printers are very familiar with the process and requirements of print for Fringe acts. They, as well as other printers around the UK, often offer special discounts for Fringe-related print. Many printers can offer advice and suggestions on keeping costs down. Discuss your budget and requirements with your printer and always ask for a run-on price (how much will an extra 100 cost, for example). You will need to know roughly how many flyers and posters you require when requesting quotes; this will be dependent on your budget and distribution resources.
Things to ask
- What format should we send the artwork to you?
- Do you require a bleed on the artwork?
- How much will a run-on cost be for 100 / 1,000? Is this the same as a reprint?
- Will these be printed digitally or litho? (Your designer may need this information; it also affects reprint costs.)
- Is there anything I can do to save money or paper? (Some printers can run your print with another job to save money and off-cuts, but may need prompting.)
- Remember to consider the environment – don’t print more than you need and recycle what you don’t use.
Visit our Services Directory for listings of local printers.
The number of print you need depends on a few factors: the length of your run, who will be handing them out and, of course, your budget. Discuss costs with your printer: thanks to digital printing, doing an extra run is now relatively easy and not overly expensive, so negotiate deals that allow you to minimise anything going to waste. Print is cheap and easy to organise during August in Edinburgh, so don’t worry about supplies running out – it’s better to print less and have more produced later if you need it, rather than overprinting in the first place. Remember that you’re the client, so ask as many questions as you need.
Ask your printer about using recycled or FSC-approved paper for all print materials. Outdoor advertising products like Correx are recyclable, waterproof and maintain durability over the festival period.
Use an Edinburgh-based print company and collect your print or have them delivered to your accommodation. As a rule, if you’re using a local printer, you can arrange short print runs and print more if necessary.
Most print deals offer competitive packages and will try to persuade you that spending £10 more will get you double the amount of posters. Unless you are in Edinburgh a few weeks before and are approaching shops and bars, it’s unlikely that you’ll need thousands, so save the cash (and the paper) and use it for something else.
Marketing online reaches a diverse range of Fringe audiences, and carries less of a carbon footprint. Read our guide to marketing your show online.
Recycle after the Fringe
It’s your responsibility to recycle what you can within the trade waste guidelines set out by the City of Edinburgh Council, and please avoid overprinting wherever possible.
Once you have your entire print setup ready to go, it’s time to plan where and when to deploy it. General Fringe practice is to distribute flyers and posters every day you perform and to concentrate on getting your ‘image’ out in the public eye in the week leading up to your first show.
Most performers factor a few hours of distribution into their daily routine. Doing your own distribution is a good way to cut costs, though it does take a lot of time, energy and resilience. If you have cast and crew who are available for a few hours a day, this will help with the taxing job of distributing your own print media.
Speak to our Media Office about good flyering practice. The main goal is to find your prospective audience and to speak to them directly – think thematically and consider the time of your performances (eg ‘Our show starts in 15 minutes…’). Flyers and posters can act as a reminder of an interaction the recipient had with the participant selling the show, and remind them they want to see the show based on that experience.
Alternatively, you can allow for a distribution fee in your budget for a professional distribution company. There are pros and cons to this choice.
While professional companies are trained, know the city well, have access to more sites and can keep track of your print and pick-up rates, they can also be expensive and won’t know your show like the cast and crew do. If you have room in your budget, it can be a worthwhile choice, but do get the distribution team along to see the show, bearing in mind most companies will want your print in advance of the Fringe to organise your campaign.
Where to distribute
Your key motivator when distributing print materials is to find your audience and talk to them. The personal touch really does work, so arm yourself with flyers and banter about the show and hit the streets. Costumes and gimmicks are great but enthusiasm is your number one priority.
The High Street
Edinburgh’s High Street has traditionally become the hub of the Fringe, concentrated outside the Fringe Shop and spreading up and down the Royal Mile. It’s a popular destination with tourists, which makes it a popular destination for Fringe audiences.
Most Fringe venues will not appreciate you handing out print inside their venues unless your show is appearing there. Many performers do, however, flyer queues outside other venues in the hope of attracting crowds from a similar kind of show. Some shows will let you flyer their seats as well – be sure to ask them first! Cross-promotion is a great tool – there is a lot of competition on the Fringe but often collaboration is key.
Remember: Where there are tickets sold... there are ticket buyers.
Other areas of Edinburgh
Edinburgh’s city centre has a number of areas that usually attract crowds during August. The Mound and the paved area by the Royal Scottish Academy on Princes Street are popular areas. Princes Street is Edinburgh’s main shopping strip, and borders Princes Street Gardens (East and West), which are usually full of people picnicking or catching some sun. Bristo Square and George Square are also hubs of Fringe activity and Fringe crowds.
Keep your eyes peeled for poster spaces in visitor attractions, cafes and restaurants, tourist information centres, hotels and guesthouses, bookshops, leisure centres, pubs etc. Always ask permission. Often, if they like your marketing – and you – they’ll put your poster up!
Adding quotes and stars
If you get a good review during your run, print out review quotations and star ratings and attach these to your flyers and / or posters (you’ll need to keep track of where you put your posters up).
Outdoor advertising and fly posting
If your budget allows for outdoor advertising, speak to Out of Hand Scotland (the City of Edinburgh Council’s official outdoor advertising contractor) about your ideas and requirements as early as possible.
Fly posting is a criminal offence. People fixing posters to publicly owned spaces (walls, hoardings, windows of vacant buildings, waste bins, street lighting columns, traffic signal control boxes, bridge parapets, trees, stairways and so on) are liable for prosecution. Many of Edinburgh’s buildings are historical sites, which adds to Edinburgh being such an amazing festival city. While these public spaces might seem to provide a perfect blank canvas for your poster, it is both illegal and irresponsible to fly post anywhere unless it is explicitly approved for Fringe posters.
Remember: If you can’t speak to whoever is in charge of the space, you can’t put your poster up. And given that you’re advertising your show name and details, the authorities will know where to find you.