It's that time of year again, when it takes you about an hour to walk down the Royal Mile and you can't turn the corner without coming face to face with a juggler in full flow. It's also a marketing frenzy, with posters and flyers as far as the eye can see.

But it still seems to revolve around offline marketing techniques, alongside good old fashioned pleading and persuasion.

edinburgh fringe marketing

Photo credits - ddh Photos

So is there anything an SEO agency in Edinburgh can learn from the fringe, other than to avoid Edinburgh city centre in August?

We definitely think there are a few tips we could all take on board.

Stand Out From The Crowd

While we don't necessarily recommend turning up to client meetings on stilts, it's important to be noticed and be memorable. There is a lot of noise out there and it's not enough just to exist and hope to be found. This advice is just as valid for digital marketing  - just because you have a website doesn't mean you'll get more business. Check out what your competitors are doing and do it better and, if possible, do it differently. And when it comes to digital marketing, your competitors are not just the businesses down the other end of Princes Street, they are the people who are showing up at the top of the search engines for the things you do. Keep an eye on their social media as well. If they are in front of your potential customers day in day out, you're going to struggle to be remembered. Creativity is key - try popping out to the mound on your lunch break for some inspiration!

edinburgh fringe marketing impact

Photo credits - ddh Photos

Clear Message

If you are accosting someone on a crowded street you need to be very clear so that you get your message across. You have a matter of seconds and the person most likely doesn't want to be interrupted by you, so it needs to be succinct or you'll miss your chance. All advertising is the same; if you are interrupting someone who is trying to do something else you need to get straight to the point or you'll lose them. Even when you are not interrupting, for example when someone voluntarily visits your website, they need to see immediately that they have arrived at the right place, and that you can help them solve the problem they have. Cut the waffle and make it totally obvious what you do and who you do it for.

Tell A Story

Who can resist a good story? Keep it simple but entertaining, like the tale of Greyfriars Bobby, and people will remember it much more than just a list of facts. That is the reason that you see the same classic plays performed year after year: the Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, Dorian Gray, Frankenstein's monster... they have longevity because they are great stories. Find the drama in what you do, demonstrate how you saved the day for your client or how you got to where you are by overcoming obstacles. Suck your readers in to the romance of your business and they will be more likely to remember and trust you.

greyfriars bobby Edinburgh

Know Your Audience

Fringe promoters do this instinctively - if the show has adult content, they are not handing flyers to families with young kids. They also know how much the flyers cost to print so they want to make sure that they aren't wasted. But the minute they see someone who looks like they are the ideal audience member, they home in on their target with precision, thrusting a flyer into their hands and giving them their best sales pitch. Perhaps even following them down the street until they agree to turn up to the show! 

Digital marketing agencies in Edinburgh should take note - precision targeting saves money and tailoring your pitch to the audience is something that digital marketing tools like HubSpot allow you to do almost as well online as in the Cowgate.


A agile approach to marketing is where you set short sprints and then review the results and pivot if required, much like a good comedian who will gauge the mood of the room and adapt their material accordingly. If it's not working for your audience, take stock and tweak your content. Measure the effect of the changes and keep adapting until you find the sweet spot. Beware, what works in this year's fringe may not work next year so stay alert and keep checking.

Edinburgh fringe audience Festival Fringe Society

Provide A Taster

Perhaps one of the best ways to convince someone to come and see your show is to show them a sneek preview. That way they can see what it's going to be like and all the risk of buying tickets to a show they are going to hate is removed (although no visit to the fringe is complete without seeing one truly awful show). The same applies with marketing. If there is a small project you can undertake at the beginning of an engagement to let everyone see what it will be like to work together, the client's risk involved in making a decision to work with a chosen business is significantly reduced.


Performers on a small budget will squeeze every last drop out of their investment in promotional collateral. If they've spent wisely, then their poster design will translate into a flyer to hand out on the street and some instagram posts. Not only does that save money, but it also provides consistency which leads to recognition and memorability.

The same applies to digital marketing. Create one valuable piece of content and repurpose it as many ways as you can. That cracking podcast could also be a YouTube video, an ebook, a couple of blog posts and a dozen social media posts. Invest your time and energy wisely and find ways to reuse your highest quality information.

edinburgh fringe advertising

Photo credits - ddh Photos


Fringe shows live or die on reviews. Those sought after gold stars signify to the audience that a show is likely to be worth seeing and can make all the difference to performers. In fact the main target market in the first few days is critics, as they can decide the fortunes of the event for the rest of the month. In business you should take your reviews just as seriously. Potential customers rely on these type of trust signals  - reviews, recommendations, testimonials, case studies - to double check that you really are as good as you say you are.

There we have it. Take inspiration from the Edinburgh Fringe and translate the most effective tactics into their digital equivalents. Ultimately, marketing is all about understanding your target market and finding ways to give them what they need. Fringe performers instinctively grasp the concept and businesses can do the same.

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