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Getting the Most Out of Your Theatre's Marketing Budget

No matter the size of your stage production marketing budget, it is important that you’re getting the most value possible from it.

You've got your marketing budget set, but how do you make sure that you get the maximum value out of those precious dollars? If you're a non-profit, you want to make sure that you are being a good steward of resources on behalf of your donors. If you're a for-profit, then you want to make sure that you're protecting your bottom line. We all know that marketing is important, and that you have to spend money to make money, but how do you make sure you're spending your money in the right way?

Where is Your Audience Now?

Before you embark on any marketing campaign, you should have some kind of idea where your audience is currently discovering that you're producing something. This can start by looking at what marketing you're currently doing, but the best way to do this is to survey your audience. As you run this survey, remember that the method you utilize to survey them may skew the results. If you send out an email to your email list with the link to the survey, it seems likely that those folks will tell you that they mostly hear about the show through your emails. The same goes for your social media.

You want data from your audience at the moment that they are your audience - that means getting a survey in their hands when they are experiencing your production. In a digital environment, that might mean giving them a link to a survey before the show begins, or giving them a survey when we're able to welcome audiences back into our spaces. Including a link to the survey in your digital program (Stage Mag from BroadwayWorld is a turnkey digital program solution) is a great way to encourage audience response and data gathering.

With that data in hand, you can now start the process of reviewing your current marketing activities. If people note that they're seeing information about the show in a specific way but not others, does it make sense to shift some of your resources to those areas? Quite likely the answer is yes. If the billboard is working, maybe you should grab a second billboard in a different spot in town. If the newspaper works, make sure you're always in the paper - and maybe invest in a larger ad.

Survey data of your audience is an immediate way to understand how other people who match the profile of your audience might find out about your productions. Knowing how they find out about your productions is a great way to know how to spend to attract more audience members that match this profile. If you're looking for assistance in reaching and surveying your audience, BroadwayWorld launched a research service last year.

Expanding Your Marketing

Once you know what in your current plan is working, you need to start thinking about expanding your marketing. This doesn't have to be an expensive project, but it is going to cost you some money, and you shouldn't be afraid to let these tests run their course. With continued implementation of privacy laws and features within web browsers, finding your audience via interest tracking across websites is becoming more difficult. You need to find the audience you may be missing in your current marketing plan by specifically seeking out the publications where those audience members are going to be.

The first stop you should make? As the world's largest theatre site, our coverage goes far beyond Broadway and the West End - we have 145 regional markets focused on local news. Add in our ability to effectively geo-target your marketing, we can make sure that no matter what content the audience is taking in on our site, we can show them the marketing for productions that are happening near them - or from companies that are based near them in the case of digital events. You may be thinking that you can do the same targeting via Facebook, but take note of this article from The Intercept that dives into the many issues, and potential falsehoods, that mar Facebook interest targeting.

We'll discuss what metrics you should be looking at momentarily, but it is important to note that as you expand your marketing, that most marketing efforts take time to establish themselves. There is no one size fits all marketing solution, and there is no single piece of marketing that you can wave like a magic wand and make an audience appear for your productions. You want to be sure you stop spending in ways that aren't working, but you can't trade something that is working for one group of audience members for something that works for a different group without risking losing one of those groups.

What Metrics Should You Use to Be Sure Your Marketing Plan is Working?

The key to truly getting the most out of your marketing budget is ensuring that you are constantly looking at, and adjusting based on, certain metrics that can give you a sense of what is actually working for you and your marketing plans. While there are any number of metrics that you can look at that will tell you something, here are a few important metrics and what you can learn from them:

Traffic Sent from Marketing Elements: this most likely takes the form of clicks or CTR, and this is the leading question for most marketing elements: is this campaign sending people to either our website or ticket link in the way that I want them to? Now, if the call to action for the campaign does not involve trying to send people to your website, this may not be as important a statistic, but these clicks can be one of the most immediate ways to measure impact.

Website Bounce Rate: Once people land on your website, are they sticking around? This metric won't tell you if a piece of marketing is working, but it will start to direct you towards a potential disconnect between your marketing and making the final conversion of the lead into a customer. Your marketing elements are there to turn people into qualified leads - by interacting with your marketing, they have demonstrated interest - and then it was where you send them from there that is going to move them along in the sales process. If you're generating clicks but not sales, the problem likely isn't in your marketing materials, it's in lead conversion.

Impressions: An important metric for all forms of marketing (remember the rule of 7 that we discussed in last week's article), people need to encounter your logo and message multiple times before they take action. You'll also want to keep an eye on impressions to try and understand if there are pieces of your marketing campaign that generate awareness that leads to stronger implementation of other elements that have a more explicit call to action.

Getting the most out of your marketing budget, no matter its size, is a matter of making sure that you keep doing the things that work, while experimenting and expanding with new pieces of marketing to discover new ways to get audiences through your doors (in person or virtually). As you do your own experimenting, make sure that you're working with partners that are also doing the work of finding new ways to reach their audience.

Want to hear more about how BroadwayWorld is working to find new ways to reach our audience? Join us on January 27th for an all-new webinar:

An Update from BroadwayWorld

Sign up here!

This month, we'll reflect back on 2020 and look ahead to 2021 by exploring the trends in data gathered from surveys deployed by BroadwayWorld to theatres and audiences, how we're reading (and the trends we're seeing) in industry news, and we'll be joined by BroadwayWorld Editor-in-Chief Robert Diamond to discuss all of the new features, programs, and opportunities that BroadwayWorld has launched over the last year - and how those can be utilized to supercharge your marketing.

Join us on January 27th at 3pm Eastern for a look at the state of the industry from the perspective of companies, audiences, and the media! Sign up here!

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From This Author Alex Freeman