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How to create a Theatre Marketing Plan that drives up Revenue

About 40% of marketers say proving their strategies create a return on their investment is a top challenge, according to HubSpot. To make sure performing arts marketers are successful when they’re crafting an arts marketing campaign or honing their existing strategies, it’s essential that they know exactly how each piece can drive engagement, attendance, and revenue for their organizations.

This article takes a closer look at the key components that make up a theatre marketing plan and how they drive up revenue.

Related Reading: 5 Theatre Marketing Strategies That Help Increase Revenue


Key metrics

Before building a plan, it’s important for marketers to establish how they’ll set goals and measure their success. These customer retention key performance indicators (KPIs) are examples of metrics that can help arts organizations understand the impact they’re making with their time and resources:

Customer retention: The number of first-time patrons who make repeat visits within the two years following their first visit.  

Web sales: The majority of patrons book tickets online, so tracking these purchases and their associated behaviors are an efficient way to gauge and set targets for earned revenue.

Advance ticket sales: Getting patrons to book early can help theatres guarantee income, maximize their inventory and avoid last-minute discounting. They’re also a direct way for marketers to measure their campaigns’ success.


Centralizing patron data

Understanding customers is key to a theatre furthering their relationships with them. Marketers can improve their reach by looking at all of the areas where they’re collecting data on their patrons, consolidating them into one place, and leveraging that data to make strategic decisions.

For example, this could mean cross-referencing patrons’ ticket-buying habits with their donation history to find opportunities to upsell them into members or higher-level donors. But it doesn’t need to stop there: Experiment with other data pairings and see what insights they can lead to.


Content marketing

Telling meaningful stories about their organizations can help arts marketers break through all of the messages their patrons receive and deepen their connections with them.

To grow their content marketing strategies, marketers should take stock of what content their organization generates and how to channel it to engage patrons online and in print. Whether it’s finding production photos that could take a more central role on the website, creating a video strategy to urge social media followers to book tickets or starting a weekly blog column from resident artists, theatres have all sorts of stories in reach.


Creating secondary spend opportunities

One of the most overlooked and opportunistic ways for arts organizations to build revenue is by maximizing ways for existing patrons to spend more money. Adding online upsells that let committed patrons deepen their experience is a great way to maximize revenue through secondary spend before show day. Think about upselling:

  • Food and drinks
  • Merchandise
  • Package offers (meal deals, drink vouchers)
  • Parking
  • Pre- and post-show events (talkbacks, workshops, celebrations)
  • Ticket upgrades or exchange protection

With these strategies in hand, arts marketers will not only know exactly what they are aiming to achieve with every initiative they start but how to communicate how they’re growing revenue.

Learn more about identifying upsell opportunities beyond ticket sales to maximize long-term revenue growth.


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Hailey Colwell is a former Marketing Manager at Spektrix

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