When you buy a ticket or a workshop through our website, a little questionnaire asks how you found out about the event. There are a lot of options to choose; eflyers, our website, posters, letters, leaflets, listings press – all of these are various strands of our marketing campaign.
It used to be that the majority of bookings were taken over the phone, where our Box Office team would ask each customer how they heard about it. Customers frequently tell you what’s prompted them to book at that moment as well, making it nice and easy to document. (Full disclaimer: this is very much still an essential element of our Box Office. I, however, am lousy at asking. I promise now that I will endeavour to be better at it).
However, the rise of technology (coupled with Creation not having a physical Box Office to book at) has seen a shift in booking patterns. In 2016, 58% of all transactions were put through over our website. Here, you can just choose not to answer this question, leaving us in the dark about why you booked.
Here at Creation, we often base our marketing on the idea that the average customer needs to be reminded of the show an average of five times before booking. The way they get reminded can be varied, from driving past a banner to seeing a Facebook ad, we keep nudging our audiences in as many ways as possible. With limited resources, we want to build the most efficient strategy – not knowing what prompted our audience to book makes this harder.
When assessing our sales casually in the office, we frequently end up using anecdotal evidence. A customer who lives in a village where we’ve just done a school’s drop books their family in for a Christmas show – we assume that hooray, schools drops work! When a Friend of Creation books online, we can assume it’s off the back of a newsletter or Friends Update.
This anecdotal evidence does end up shaping our marketing strategy. We know that we can reach a much wider audience over social media, and over the past few months have focused a lot more on developing our social media (read Arts Marketing: A Critique for more information). However, we don’t know whether we’re barking up the wrong tree. Certainly, with social media you can immediately see audiences react yet you have no idea whether that Like or Retweet translates to a sale.
In the physical world, marketing through printed items like banners have their strengths – primarily which it allows artwork to be recognised by people on a daily basis (and surely driving past the words “A Christmas Carol” twice a day every day must have some subconscious impact). However over the past year, a lot of our banner campaigns in Oxford have been thwarted (including the one which was cut down from a Creation team member’s own fence). In Banbury, we’ve had more luck, though the local paper suggests that authorities will soon turn their scissors to banners too.
What then is the next step? Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to answer that little question. If you book online, let us know how you heard about the show. Let us know which banner you saw, or where you picked up a leaflet from. If it’s a Facebook post, comment on it saying you’ve booked. If you really liked an eflyer we sent, reply to it and tell us (seriously, this makes our day!).
Promise to do this for me, and I promise to be better at asking those Box Office questions.