Articles Tagged with: theatre

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.


Planning A Marketing Campaign – Part 2

You’ve just walked in with your morning coffee, you know that today the time for procrastination is over, and after speaking to the team yesterday, they are all looking to you to drive the marketing of their upcoming production.


You have nothing.  Well, close to nothing, you have a few notes written down, they are in no sensible order but are more random ramblings of ways you can market the show.


You have a basic grasp on what the company wants to achieve, you understand who it is you’re meant to be talking to, but where do you go now?


This is the second of a 2-part blog series that talks about what is involved and what you should be focusing on when planning a marketing campaign.


In the first part of the series, I spoke about outlining your objectives, measurables, and insight on the campaign.


In this second part of the series, we will focus on the strategy of your plan and what that constitutes.  This second part of the marketing plan, will also help immensely when you begin to work with your marketing agencies on writing a creative brief to promote your show.


If you missed the first part of the series you can find it here:


1. Product Proposition

State the single most important message you want your communications to promote.


This is key to your marketing communications and should be the main message that your audience is left with after seeing your communications.

  • What is your brand truth?
  • What is your product truth?


2. Message Hierarchy

Most marketing comms will have different ‘dwell times’ for the audience to take in messages, for example, the dwell time on a piece of Direct Mail will be much longer than a newspaper advertisement, this provides you with a framework around what additional messages you can communicate to your audience.

  • What supporting messages do you want to promote?
  • What is the insight telling you about secondary factors


3. Risk / Challenges

Your marketing as well as your production will no doubt have certain risks and challenges associated with it, these may be seasonal and external risks such as a nearby festival, or they may be internal risks and challenges, such as a member of the team leaving, inconsistent insight.  By highlighting these and identifying them, you will be better placed to action against them.

  • What is outside your control that may impact the campaign?
  • What could happen within the company that may impact the campaign?
  • What obstacles are there that could impact your campaign?


4. Action / Contingency

Once you have identified the risks and challenges, you need to think about contingency and action plans to be put in place should they actually occur.  You should fin d that most of these will be internally controlled.

  • What can you do to negate the risks and challenges?


5. Headline Pricing

Pricing will be more relevant in Direct comms, rather than in Brand comms where you are trying to increase brand awareness and affinity.

If your communications are a piece of direct marketing and you are wanting to increase ticket sales, your pricing should make up an element within your comms.  Where you price your production, like any product or service, will have an effect on your company and it’s important to ensure that you are highlighting a price that is consistent with your target market and what they expect to pay for your entertainment.

  • Are you promoting a price on your comms?


6. Offer

Finally, is there an offer you can promote as part of your communications to ensure the response you generate is as high as possible.  Perhaps you have a pricing structure dependant on when your tickets are sold, or there could be a bulk/upgrade offer you promote when customers purchase tickets as well as merchandise.

  • Is there an incentive for your customers?
  • What can you provide to promote purchase?



That’s it for our tips on planning a marketing campaign, we hope you enjoyed them and have a clearer idea of what you need to cover off in your plan.  There are numerous ways to create your marketing plan, I use a Powerpoint template that captures all the relevant information and provides an Executive Summary on two pages, and then throughout the rest of the plan we divulge further providing detail around each specific element.


Remember, if you missed the first part of this series outlining the initial steps in planning a marketing campaign, you can find them here.


If you are over the procrastination, have a few general questions on your marketing, or need help planing a marketing campaign, be sure to contact us here!

Planning a Marketing Campaign – Part 1

You have a production to put on, cast and crew are rehearsing, and the company is looking at you to promote the show and fill the seats.  You stare at your computer screen into the abyss and wonder where to start.

This scenario is quite common for small & even large theatre companies, with limited budget, time and resources, where productions rely on traditional promotional tactics such as word of mouth, flyers, and passers by.

Through planning a marketing campaign, you will delve your thoughts deeper into your company, it’s production, and your audience, and come through this process with a clear structure, and answers to two key questions: what needs to be done and how you are going to do it.

When planning a marketing campaign, before setting out your strategy, you need to set the boundaries and parameters by which you will market your show.

This is the first of a 2-part series that details what you need to consider when planning a marketing campaign.  In this first series we will look at your objectives, your audience and the insight you have.  The second part of the series looks at the strategy for your marketing campaign.

Part 1: Objectives & Insight

Part 2: Strategy


1. Objectives

  • What exactly is it you are trying to achieve?
  • What is the single purpose of the communications?  Are you trying to build credibility as a theatre company, are you trying to promote your latest production, or are you trying to increase membership of your theatre company?
  • What are the main drivers of your objectives? 
    • What drives your brand?  Is it your place and context in society and culture?
    • What drives your production? Is it your technology and innovation? 

Be sure to highlight and focus on the key drivers that your audience and prospects will understand from your comms.

2. Audience

  • Who is your primary audience? Who do you want to fill the majority of seats? Who will be your early customers?
  • What do you want them to think, feel and do?
  • How are they to react to your communications?
  • Who is your secondary audience?
  • What is it that will incite someone not initially attending your production to purchase tickets to your show.

These questions will also help later when you are writing your creative brief.

3. Primary KPI’s

  • What does success look like?
  • How will you know if your marketing has delivered what it set out to do?
    • You can separate this out for your brand KPI’s, and your sales KPI’s.

Your campaign may want to increase your brand affinity and become a trusted and respectable theatre company in one specific area.  While alternatively, the campaign could also be about driving attendance, customers and ticket sales.

4. Why You?

  • Why should the audience choose to come to your show over other productions?
  • What are your unique selling points?
  • What is your insight telling you?

5. Why Now?

  • Why are you different now compared to before?
  • What’s the ‘new news’?
  • Why is this compelling?

6. Live dates

  • What is the opening night or start date of the campaign?
  • What key dates & milestones from a marketing perspective do you need to hit?

7. Media spend

  • What is your media budget?
  • This will help shape where and when your show is promoted, and when dealing with media and PR agencies gives them scope to work within.


In our next post we will show you how your campaign plan then starts to take shape around marketing strategy and creative.

If you have an upcoming show and need a marketing plan, feel free to speak to us here!

8 Tips To Create Compelling Flyers

Creating a compelling flyer is one of the earliest and most affordable forms of direct marketing that many in the arts will complete, but having a clear message hierarchy in your design and messaging is one of the most important points to consider when creating a flyer to really engage with your audience.

The message hierarchy determines what message(s) you want your audience to take away from your direct marketing and prioritises these in your design.

We have previously written about what to consider when writing a creative brief, and as part of that process, ensure you are considering how the following points are represented in your message hierarchy:


1. Consistency

By maintaining the same branding across all pieces of your comms, from your website, your merchandise, and your flyers, you are maximising the affinity your audience has with your brand.


2. Who is represented?

Ensure that who you are, is represented clearly on the communications. This is potentially the first interaction that someone has with your brand.


3. What is it?

No matter what type of arts you are promoting, make sure that the discipline you are promoting is communicated either through creative design or messaging.  Just as some people who see your flyer won’t know who you are, they similarly won’t know what you do.


4. Dates

Many leaflets are used for promoting an event, and one of the most important things when promoting an event is when and where your show is.  On some recent examples I’ve seen, the date and time that the show is on, is in the smallest text and font.


5. Call To Action

As a piece of ‘direct marketing’, you are wanting to elicit response from your collateral and by providing a clear call to action of where to do that will ensure you get a higher response rate.   There is also an opportunity for you to highlight your social media channels, or website information where people can go to find out more.


6. Price

Pricing is great to include, and can be especially helpful for your audience if you have a structure in place, such as advance or early bird tickets.  By offering an early bird price for pre-purchased tickets, you are locking your audience away, and giving you an early forecast of the audience numbers for your show.


7. Tracking

All marketing should be tested, and providing an offer code where your audience can take the flyer away and enter a code that is specific to your flyer for a  specific offer will give you an indication about whether a piece of collateral worked well.  For additional testing, you could change your offer codes dependant upon where the flyers are distributed.


8. Credibility

If you have any endorsements or testimonials from fans or recognised persons, by including these as part of your creative you’re able to highlight the reviews that you have gained from previous performances, and add weight to your proposition that people should come and see you.


If you are creating flyers for promotion of an event or show and need help with your message hierarchy and design of the flyer, feel free to speak to us, we’ll be glad to help.


We are an integrated marketing communications agency.

  • Brand & Marketing Strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Advertising
  • B2B
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Media Planning
Find Us At

223 Liverpool St, Darlinghurst

NSW, 2010



+61 2 9188 7810