Articles Tagged with: rar

If Your Arts Organisation Only Has One Marketing Metric – Make It This…

Do you ever get overwhelmed by the number of marketing metrics you have to report on?  Is your frustration not just the number of reports you look at on a weekly basis, but finding it hard to know the ones that really matter?

Sure, we all manage various marketing channels, but what are they all delivering?  What should you be looking at to see where your marketing needs to improve, or where you’re doing well?

You need a barometer.  Something to tell you when your marketing is swaying too much in one direction.  Just one measurement that shows you whether your marketing is working or whether you need to change your strategy.

It doesn’t have to be frustrating, I’m about to tell you the one measurement in arts marketing, you should be looking at, why you should you look at it, and what you should do about it.


Introducing the ‘RAR’

I hear you suddenly sigh. Great you think, another acronym I can put down alongside ROI, KPI, PPC and FBI.  Just bear with me…

RAR stands for: ‘Return Audience Ratio’.

What is it?  Simply put, it’s the percentage of past or returning audience members that come to your latest production measured against the total audience members.

No matter what you’re presenting, there will be new audience members, or people who have seen your work before.

Let’s say you have 100 audience members at a theatre, a gallery exhibition, or even a live concert.  If 50 people present are audience members that have been to a previous show, and 50 are new, your RAR is 50%.  If though, you only have 10 audience members that have been to one of your previous performances, your RAR is suddenly only 10%.

Extremes of any sort are not great.

What if I have low RAR?

Only by measuring over time and developing a benchmark score will you know the extremities of your particular art.  However, in order for longevity and success, you will always need to be capturing new audience members and retaining some of the tried and tested loyal fans you have built up over time.

If you suddenly find yourself in a position where your RAR is extremely low, for example less than 15%, you’re faced with a  situation where audience members who have seen a previous performance, are not returning to see your latest production.

This could be due to any number of factors.  Perhaps your previous production wasn’t great?  Did you price the tickets and entry too high?  Was it promoted well, and was it targeted enough?  What was your communications strategy with past audience members?  Were you even talking to them in the lead up to your latest show?

If you have a low RAR you need to ensure that you are communicating to your audience.  Use your mailing list and database to have regular updates and communications.  There are any number of email clients out there these days such as mailchimp who can help manage your email database.

You can also provide incentive for past audience members to come back by offering something additional for their ticket.  A discounted offering on pre-purchased tickets, discounted merchandise – a free program, or drink upon entry, a backstage pass after the show to meet the cast and crew, or even a Q&A with audience members as a one-off if you want to open something only for past members.

What if I have high RAR?

This is probably a more fortunate scenario to be in as your productions are seen as quality affairs, and your audience had a great time last time so are coming again.  The problem you have, is that to ensure longevity, you need to be attracting new audience members.

This problem is due to your communications.  How are you promoting the show, where are you promoting it, and what media channels are you using?

You need to discover what drew your existing audience members to your show, and either target a similar market with refreshed comms, or discover why your target market isn’t attending.

You can promote your production to new audience members by utilising your existing base and offering a ‘word of mouth’ incentive for them to bring new people to discover your art.  This incentive could be any of the ideas mentioned above.

Alternatively, you could also provide incentives for new audience members to come such as offering one night with reduced prices as a ‘discovery’ night.

What you don’t want to do, is make sure that you offer your new audience members more than audience members that come and visit you often.  That will just annoy your trusted patrons and increase the chance they won’t come back.

No problem is unsolvable

By understanding one important metric that is easily measurable, as a marketer you’re well on your way to understanding the why, how and what type(s) of marketing.

You don’t want to be jammed with reports.  You don’t need to understand the granular details behind every piece of collateral you distribute.

What you do need, is a simple guiding light to show you where improvement and opportunity is.

If you want to understand what marketing levers need to be pulled, and to ensure that you’re attracting the right type of audience, I would start by ensuring you have ways setup in your marketing to measure your RAR.

Go on.  Do it.  Add another acronym to your list…

6 Things About Marketing Your Theatre Wants To Know

Do you need a marketing checklist?

It’s time for your weekly meeting with your manager, you scramble to find your marketing checklist of actions from last week, and think about the ways you’ve started to tick them off.  The clock ticks.

15 minutes prior to your meeting, becomes 5 minutes a little too quickly, and as the time draws closer, you realise that you have spent most of this past week working on side projects or reactive requests.  You gaze down at your list again, and realise that while it changes weekly, there’s no consistency from week to week.

If only you had a template.  A model of key criteria that every week, you could reel off like an old fisherman, that keeps the company informed, and your manager knowledgeable of the value you’re adding.  A number of key criteria that’s updated and looked at regularly.

You need a marketing checklist.  Here are six things that your company wants to know:


1. What type of audience is coming to your shows?

Customer segmentation is vital, and may differ from production to production, where one show may be targeted to tourists or families, another may be targeting students or a high-brow audience. 

In order to really tailor and target your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to understand who you’re targeting to come to your show. 

What audience insight do you have?  What are the demographics of your target market?  Can you talk about where they are from, their age, who they came with, how many people did they come with?

Capture as much data into your audience that you can, and delve into this to gain valuable insight.


2. What marketing is working?

The objectives your marketing campaign has will determine exactly what you’re measuring.   Your objectives could be as simple as ticket sales, or it could be awareness of the production.

What is the return on investment that the marketing budget is delivering?  The last thing your manager wants is to hand you a marketing budget, and have you not know how to spend it.  Even worse, you’re spending the marketing budget, but you don’t know what it’s delivering!

3. How many audience members have been before?


Simply put – what percentage of your audience have been to one of your productions before, and how many are ‘new members’.

Ideally, your production should have a healthy ratio of new & repeat audience members, however the RAR (Repeat Audience Ratio) should give you an indication as to how healthy your theatre company is (as well as how your marketing is faring).

If your RAR increases over time, your new members have had a good experience and are keen to discover more.  If you find that your RAR is low, your theatre needs to look at the ways its productions are run, and why people are not returning.

4. Ticket sale information

Every piece of marketing you deliver should have a clear objective, but the majority of the time, one of the key objectives you’ll try to achieve is to ‘put bums on seats’.

The old adage goes that people see a piece of advertising 7 times before purchasing – with this in mind, what insight around marketing impact on ticket sales do you have?

How did your audience members hear about the production? What made them purchase their ticket?  Which sales channel did they use?  Did they book online or call the Box Office?  Was there a time of day, or a day of the week that saw a spike in ticket sales, and why was that so?

5. What is the cost per customer?

Another simple metric – what did it cost the company in marketing for customers to purchase tickets?

Be sure that you measure two different cost measurements:

a) Cost p/customer: Marketing Budget ÷ Total Audience Members

b) Cost p/incremental customer: Marketing Budget ÷ Incremental Audience Members (Total Audience Members less Audience Members that would have attended without marketing or advertising)

Calculating the cost p/incremental customer may require some initial assumptions; however you can use some metrics through audience surveys and insight to lessen the risk.

6. What does the media mix look like?

One of the key aspects of any marketing campaign is your media plan.  Understanding your audience will help determine the required mix between online and offline marketing.

What percentage of your marketing is online media, i.e. digital marketing, and how much of your marketing is offline media, i.e. flyers and posters.  How are you measuring each?

Your PR department will be working on securing editorial space and awareness of your production in front of journalists.  Are you working with them to understand the publications they’re working with so you can potentially advertise and market with the same publications?


Go ahead.  Try it.  Ultimately, how you use this marketing checklist is up to you.

If you dread your weekly meeting and scurry around trying to find something to report on, you could well use these as starting points.  Understand the detail behind each of them, and keep your theatre company across them.

If you can do that, you can save yourself from frantically fretting every week, and get those 15 minutes before your meeting back into your day.



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