Sam Freeman

Storytelling | Theatre | Arts Marketing

Small Scale Segmentation

Part of the role of any arts manager is to examine and develop the way resources are used in the most efficient way possible so as to address and interact with the widest possible audience.

Theatre’s have a historical attachment to the printed programme of events. The what’s on guide / brochure is a staple resource in the marketeers arsenal to be deployed. It is a good visual representation of an organisation, shows the breath of information provided by the venue as well as showcases (in theory) the venue’s aspirations, dreams and ambitions. There is much credit given to the “coffee table” appeal of brochures as something to be revered, perhaps it might be brought out over a dinner with friends while dipping some of that modern marvel french bread into the cheese fondue. This slightly old view still holds some water, put out a brochure and you will make an initial impact, it also allows audiences to forward plan and gives them something to stumble upon or pin to notice boards, it’s also useful for distribution and for adding a prestige about a venue through paper weight, style and aesthetic.

However, brochure’s should never be the only way nor is it right in every context. In smaller theatre’s the expense of producing a brochure should be balanced against other elements of a budget and this balance (in a world with diminishing resources) should be tipping digitally. Many friends working within Arts Marketing report with disturbing regularity about being asked by their boards about “when can we get rid of the brochure”. The fact of the matter is we can’t yet, it has been talked about for years but it still makes enough of an impact to be worthwhile.

So where’s this leave us – diminishing budgets, higher targets, increasing print prices and slightly insane board members. This leaves us with compromise and an opportunity to do some clever marketing. This is where I find myself.

I’ve been working on a segmentation plan for our venue to cut down on the expense of the print we use (not necessarily the amount) – initially for our brochure mailing. I am looking at a few things:

  • Whether we can contact them or not (data protection)
  • How recently they visited our venue
  • Whether they were a one-off booker or had seen multiple events
  • How they were able to interact with us (via e-mail? or post only?)

This means that we can narrow down our audience into segments where we can market to their actions in a simplistic way. It doesn’t take into account the type of show’s they’ve booked, or the type of tickets they chose, or the ease of access of the piece or a huge range of other variables, but it gives us a starting position. We can send heavier print (brochures) to people who see multiple events who are more likely to spend more money and to those who don’t currently receive our e-mail communications. We can send lighter print (postcards – “we’re missing you”) to those who seem to be not coming anymore. And there is a range inbetween who get a mid scale print (8 pg flyer brochure).

Essentially every bottom box in the diagram below is a segment based on contactability, recency, frequency, contact channels. It’s just an idea but will save costs. A full brochure costs about 70p to design, print, pack and mail against 32p for a postcard. We don’t want to waste too many resources on those unlikely to book, but this way we don’t have to ignore them.

Have a look at the chart and see what you think! It’s a work in progress at the moment, but I’ll keep posting up changes as they occur!

Drop me a comment and let me know what you think!

Segments v1 – Click to make bigger!