The world of not-for-profit theatre companies is one that provides fantastic productions and values patrons in the hopes of having them come back for more. By analyzing their successes and targeting a group that they’ve often glossed over, Canadian Stage has been at the forefront of using existing data in ingenious ways. The challenges that this not-for-profit theatre organization face are far from unique, as everyone looks to program more shows while promoting them properly by using less resources. It’s a constant battle, and it’s one that can be won by analyzing and replicating what worked in the past, while being ready to walk away and learn from what didn’t.
Canadian Stage knows this battle all too well. Over the course of its 27 year history, Canadian Stage has always looked to reinforce Toronto’s position in the dialogue of what Canadian cultural means. Some of the plays produced by Canadian Stage have been awarded and nominated for the Governor General’s Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award, and the Chalmers Awards for Creativity and Excellence in the Arts. If T. J. Tasker—Director of Marketing and Communications at Canadian Stage—had to choose a favourite program that he’s been a part of during his one year tenure, he’d have to go with Beckett Trilogies. “There was a sensory deprivation piece where it was in complete blackout, and it was just her lips that you could see, and it was very otherworldly.”
Canadian Stage has been using AudienceView for almost 12 years, and the software was brought on because it helped the company understand its patrons better. ”It’s given us the ability to segment our database and look at buying patterns in the past, so that we can really target our messaging and hone in on what segment of our audience might respond to the programming.”
As one of the country’s top not-for-profit contemporary theatre companies, Canadian Stage faces a unique set of opportunities throughout their three Toronto venues. By using AudienceView, Tasker and his team are working to engage a customer base that can lead to a lifelong relationship. “We’re looking at making a microsite for our Under 30 program. We’ll be able to add the age verification field and make it mandatory just for the people that come through that microsite, then we’ll provide any special offers if they’re under 30.”
Canadian Stage looks to provide the right experience for each patron, but understands that their customer’s time is valuable. By working with AudienceView partner Ve Interactive, Tasker is excited about driving conversion rates of customers who might be on the fence about a particular show. “So far it’s been pretty seamless,” says Tasker. “We’re looking at managing all of our own remarketing campaigns through Google AdWords, and just having the expertise of a company like Ve helping us out is great. We can track things on the platform, so I can look and see what we’ve done in terms of conversions.”
Some of the ways that Canadian Stage looks to improve on future productions is by studying their previous successes to see what they can replicate in the future. “One of the things I’ve been doing an analysis on is just how our promo codes perform,” says Tasker. “I can go in and look at how many tickets we sold for a production based on promo codes, and go back historically to look at what has worked and what hasn’t worked. That’s helped shape what we’re doing in the coming months, and that’s just using the data that’s there.”
Getting people to see all of the productions that Canadian Stage puts on is always the mission focus for Tasker, and as the role of social media grows in decision making, he sees a change in the way partons communicate with each other to promote shows. “Everyone is on a screen most of the time, so being able to access them from there and leveraging the audience we currently have and promoting through that is important.”
But if there’s one thing that T. J. Tasker wants people to know about Canadian Stage, it’s that despite the name, the company operates on a world stage. “We produce and present work in Toronto, but we have a lot of other things happening,” says Tasker. “I think that the real thrust of what Canadian Stage is and does is: What’s going on artistically on the world stage, how does that intersect with what Canadian artists are doing, and how can we create local Canadian talent and international artists?”