The Livery the Little Theatre with a huge Marketing Heart!

Cathy    March 12, 2018

Is social media marketing a good fit for promoting your business? Do you understand and know the benefits of being able to market your business through the use of social media marketing? A few weeks ago I spoke about the Stratford Festival on how they engaged with their customers and how they reach out through their social media. For this blog post, I’m going to stay with the theatre but on a much smaller spectrum.

The Livery is a small, non-profit community theatre in Goderich, Ontario. It is operated by a Board of Directors and has one staff member. The Livery was built in 1840’s as a harness shop by Samuel Seegmuller. In 1878, there were three businesses in the building, which included a harness shop, a stable and a stone shop. When automobiles were introduced, the three businesses failed to be stainable and the Livery was left vacant for many years. In 1978 the building was being slated for demolition, but the Town of Goderich realized its historical importance and delayed the demolition schedule until private citizens could raise enough money to purchase the building. The Livery was purchased by the citizens and was known as the Goderich Arts Foundation. Many years later, in 1983, a non-profit organization called the Goderich Little Theatre purchased the theatre and opened the Livery as a community arts centre.

This coming season there are 4 shows on the playbill and the success of these shows is imperative to keep the theatre operating. Hence why the marketing of the Livery is so important. As we all know marketing any business is expensive and sometimes the results are not as favourable as you would like them to be. The marketing plan that the Livery has is a solid foundation and has worked for years, with a few tweaks every year to make it current.

The Livery marketing plan has all the aspects that you would require whether the business is small or big. When the Livery started out, they used traditional marketing such as: newspaper, radio, articles, and written reviews. Now with social media they are able to reach out to a much larger audience of people for a fraction of the cost. They have been able to engage people on social media platforms like Facebook. The theatre plans on using Twitter, Instagram, and TripAdvisor in the coming months to increase their reach. In 2018, they have started to implement their marketing strategies and have already increased their engagement. For the month of February, the Livery was able to reach 18,323 people, which is up 83 per cent; and post engagement is at 7,801, which is up by 91 per cent. They also engage consumers through an e-newsletter and their website. Interaction on these platforms is key to stay sustainable and make their season successful. Some of the marketing that they still use and find effective for this small local community is radio, newspaper and word of mouth. This is not the upcoming marketing that many businesses use, but for the Livery it is still a way to reach their audiences.

Traditional marketing and digital marketing -Posted by  February 9th, 2017

The first step to marketing this small but mighty theatre was to understand the demographics and geographic area of who and where the consumer is. By paying attention to the cultural and arts tourist, the residents of the area, the age group of the patrons, and where the consumer is from, the Livery the able to focus attention on those areas when partaking in their social media and traditional marketing. The Livery needed to create brand awareness for the theatre, making sure their content online is always up to date and enticing. They needed to connect with their members and potential consumers on upcoming events and plays. With the use of Google Analytics and social listening, these two powerful tools have been useful to build the relationships that are needed. The Livery is able to stay connected with the consumer and have interaction in real time.

Since the Livery only has a staff of one, they knew it was imperative to engage the Board of Directors, producers and actors to share the information about the theatre and upcoming events. The theatre needed to create a constant branded message to the public about the theatre and events. They were able to pick the top messaging brands for the Board of Directors, producers and actors to use when sharing info online. The marketing plan created hashtags that could be used when sharing information about the theatre and included: #setdesign, #costumedesign, #theatre, #GoderichOntario, #Ontarioswestcoast, #HuronCounty, #Livery, #acting, #actor, #actress, #communitytheatre, and #script. The Livery also engages in a strong public relations program by using art and travel bloggers to write and review the playbill and performances. A local ambassador program is being used where they have people attend the theatre and post about it on their own social media platforms. This helps to spread the word on the performances and also build trust for the theatre when average people review the plays.

The theatre sells tickets in three ways: online, via phone and in person. About one third of the tickets sold are through an online ticketing program called Sumac. This program has helped the group to be able to track geographic and demographics of their patrons, also allowing the ability to easily contact anyone who purchases a ticket in the past.

With the use of social media and the ability to reach greater audiences, it is imperative that consumers become engaged. It is vital to stay in the minds and eyes of potential consumers and to keep their attention and focus. The Livery has been able to be sustainable over the years by the sheer ability to engage with their consumers and to be able to market and promote all of their upcoming events to a strong following on their social media platforms and knowing that the use of traditional marketing is still an important part of their marketing.

“At the Livery we have to focus on all marketing including traditional marketing as well as social media. Since our demographics varies so much we still need to engage numerous forms of marketing to be stainable in the marketplace” Cara Stephenson – GM at the Livery, Goderich Ontario

Lessons for Others

Marketing and social media has never been stronger in the world of business today, whether it is a small theatre or a big business across the seas. Without the use and ability to use social media marketing in business, we would not be where we are today. Our lives would be very different, and in many respects, much smaller and narrow minded. With the use of social media, our horizons have grown and the entire world has become accessible to us to use. If your business doesn’t have a strong marketing plan to follow, my suggestion would be to actually sit down and write one up. Then follow it so your time, energy and money is not wasted on non-committed engagement. Social media is there for us to use, so reach out and grab a hold of it and watch your marketing efforts explode!

Organization: The Livery
Industry: Theatre
Name of Organization Contact: Cara Stephenson

Authored by: Cathy Bieman

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