Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I shared a hobby with other Generation X-ers: I made my own mix tapes. Simply pop a cassette in the dual tape deck, and tape songs heard off the radio, from compact disc, or even vinyl.
Younger generations would find this procedure outdated. Dead, even. Yet the art of the mix tape isn’t dead, entirely. It is the technology that’s changed.
Now instead of tapes we use playlists generated from sources like iTunes that are synced with iPods or other such devices. Music lovers today simply need to grasp the new tools at hand to make your own mix tape.
The same can be said about the Marketing Mix. I’ve been in the arts marketing field for over a decade, and in recent years I’ve heard variations on a theme. Advertising is dead. Direct mail is dead. Subscriptions are dead. Even Marketing itself is dead.
However, it is also the case that technology has evolved, giving us marketers even more ways with which to communicate the products we have to offer our audiences, test new tactics, and analyze the results. One individual marketing tactic may not make or break your ticket sales as they once had; it is all about your Mix.
The trick is to figure out the tools best suited for your audience, find the right beat, and strike the appropriate balance for your organization’s Marketing Mix, taking advantage of the new tools at hand.
Some points to consider the balance of your Marketing Mix, which has helped my many campaigns move and groove into ticket sales and audience development:
Who is my audience? Who else could we/should we be serving? This can help you make decisions for your price, packaging, and messaging throughout your advertising and social media engagement.
What is important to my audience when it comes to buying tickets? Price? Convenience? Flexibility? It is important to both analyze your sales trends and simply ask your audience. This can be helpful in leading to decisions surrounding pricing and packaging of your tickets. Over the last two seasons at First Stage we had success in looking at audience survey data (asking questions inquiring what is important to patrons), examining sales trends (what seats have been purchased, when, and for how much) to revitalize our subscription model (aka Family Packages), resulting in a 40% increase in sales during last year’s 25th season.
How can all of my campaigns flow together? I’ve found success in sales by timing direct mail appropriately ahead of an email campaign, followed by print, online, and broadcast advertising. Social media provides a great opportunity to engage with your online audiences, reinforcing your print and broadcast messages in personal ways, and creating virtual dialogue with your audience.
Who likes what? Find out how your audience segments respond to your communication methods. Perform post-campaign analytics on your direct mail and email efforts to tell you if patrons are making purchases based off these campaigns. Use Google Analytics on your website to monitor traffic sources and devices used. Consistently monitor your social media activity to see how audiences respond (or don’t) to your content, and adapt along the way.
Should I test? Heck yes! Don’t be afraid to test new tactics, especially as new tactics emerge, so long as it’s relevant to your audience as in the first bullet point. Try shooting, editing, and sharing that interview clip with your artistic director on YouTube. Test both ideas you have for an effective email subject line. Try a partnership with the new local restaurant to help further serve your current and potential audiences. Make sure it’s something you can measure and adjust for future success.
And what about after the sale? The party doesn’t stop with the close of the ticket sale transaction; audiences need to be moved along an ongoing continuum. Patrons new and returning need nurturing to be engaged and excited about what they are about to see, what they saw, and then what they should see in the near future. I’ve used a combination of pre-performance email reminders, followed by email and direct mail post-performance to build and keep their attention on both ends of their theater experience. This has helped build loyalty and make them feel more part of what we fancy as the “First Stage Family.”
You may find that some “tunes” in your Marketing Mix are more effective—and thus warrant more attention—than others. You’ll want to plan ahead, but can always adapt your plans accordingly, as audiences and technology evolve.