I am a senior digital business and marketing executive with a passion for creating great experiences for theatergoers through content, membership clubs and ticketing. I’ve been leading digital businesses for 20 years; before that I worked in direct mail and database marketing. As Vice President, Consumer Brands at AudienceView, my role is to ensure continuing success for our business by providing theatergoers with trustworthy information and live events organizations with tools and content that help attract more customers.
TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage are like your theater-loving best friend, the one you call to ask, “What should I see?” We aim to provide people with information and access to a variety of live entertainment shows and the experiences surrounding the event itself. In total, we connect over 1.5 million consumers with live events each month, helping to fuel attendance at venues across the US and the UK.
TheaterMania’s editorial coverage is unique in the market for several reasons. We’re the only major New York theater site that provides reviews; our news content is thoughtfully curated and extensive and our features, videos and interviews stand out from the crowd for their high quality. Within the industry, we have a strong reputation for professionalism and have solid, long-term relationships with press representatives and their talent. We aim to provide comprehensive coverage including news and reviews for not just Broadway and West End, but Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and regional theater. This has helped rank us among the industry’s most respected theater-news outlets.
We have a broad audience and people interact with our sites in a number of ways. They subscribe to our newsletters and love to read the emails they receive, which can either be news and opinion-driven or promotional offers for good ticket deals. They come to our site because they’ve read a story on social media and they want to read more or they might see an interesting show listing on search. We also have a strong and loyal YouTube following. What everyone has in common is an interest in theater and performing arts. They want to read about the particular cast members, information about a particular production or maybe they want to discover what’s playing in their region.
TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage audiences are passionate about live entertainment, especially theater. We know from our audience surveys that 70% have attended more than seven shows in the last 12 months. They buy tickets at full price and discount, they enjoy travel and are interested in experiences outside of the theater to round out the planning. They are mostly female and range in age from young theater lovers to grandmothers and empty nesters with time and disposable income. If they’re part of our social media and YouTube audience, they tend to be younger. If we’re speaking about our email audience, they tend to be older. Our audience also loves not just theater but music, comedy, dance and other forms of live entertainment. They’ve told us they like to eat before shows and are always looking for information leading up to the show – for example, where to stay and park.
The TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage audiences are highly responsive. We have spent the past 20 years developing a reputation of having trustworthy, meaningful content and comprehensive show listings, so people open our emails, they engage with us on social media, they read our stories and the click throughs on show listings are high. By the time we get consumers to a show listing, they are excited, inspired and ready to buy, especially when there is a good deal.
We love social media and it’s because theater is very social. We find that our audiences interact heavily with our social media content, including the videos that we share. Theater is a very emotional business, so we try to connect everyone – including people who can’t make it to a show but want to feel like they’re there or somebody who’s researching a show because they’re planning a big trip or an outing around a big event in their life. Social media allows us to do that. It allows us to do it quickly, round the clock and give the consumer a voice to respond so they feel like they’re interacting with our brand and the brands that we’re promoting, either through editorial or advertising. On social we can have a conversation with our audiences so we can learn from them too and constantly improve what we are producing. It’s a dialogue.
When it comes to advertising, it’s all about results. We strive to give our advertisers a variety of options and different ways to interact with our audiences. We released eleven new high-impact advertising products in 2019, which allow a client to really stand out and make a statement, but we also have options for more consistent, longer term messaging. We have targeting capabilities that allow clients to hone in on the people they are trying to reach and at the end of the day it pays off. Our consumers trust our brand so when we feature an advertiser on our site, in our emails or on social, audiences respond well.
We’re known for having high response rates. Whether that response is opens, click throughs or conversion rates to make a purchase, we deliver value across the board. If I ask an advertiser what makes us different from other media properties, they frequently say that the TheaterMania products respond better than others. We have spent many years cultivating this reputation by treating both our clients’ brands and our consumers with respect and offering effective tools for bringing the two together.
We strive for meaningful, long-term relationships with our clients. Our advertising sellers are not just sellers, they want to understand each client’s overall goals to help with recommendations. By learning about things like seasonal goals and timing we can make recommendations based on our clients’ needs. We aim to have lasting relationships with these partners.
One of our greatest assets is our data. Our email database alone is growing by about net 20,000 names every month. We are working very hard to advance a first-class database that is rich in attributes. Every time a person interacts with us, that’s a data point. So whether they click a link or purchase a ticket, no matter how they engage with us, we are harvesting valuable insights that help us help our clients communicate better with their audiences.
There are several ways to work with TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage. First, we are always looking for a good story, so pitch us! We love that and invite any arts organization to send our editorial team their ideas. We love interesting and unique opportunities to produce content, especially exclusive pieces that our audiences will love. Second, we invite anyone to list their shows with us. It’s easy to do with our ‘submit your listings’ tool. An editor will review every submission before it goes live.
On the ticketing side, TheaterMania fans are excited by the ticket prices and broad selection of shows we can offer through our partnerships. In New York, we’re not just Broadway. We help sell tickets for shows that are Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway. In the UK, we’re not just London’s West End, we have regional too. This is another differentiator because people can come to TheaterMania for all sorts of show ideas.
We often find that giving our customers some kind of exclusive or a discount works really well. If it’s early access to buy tickets or a discount that consumers can’t get anywhere else, we’re going to get that in front of them. We send out promotions through social, Google AdWords or through our emails and website and find customers love a discount. So, I would say that the first step to selling more tickets is to get on our site. Our team pays attention to what offers are working and we can tweak them if necessary.
We also have a secret weapon that we hope to bring nationwide called the Gold Club in New York and the Theatre Club in London. I like to think of this as a club of influencers. Members pay an annual fee to get access to tickets at a low price. Tickets range from theater to music and often include extras like Q&As or discounts to restaurants. Our members are the most active theatergoers – they see everything!
Other than through our clubs, we don’t sell tickets ourselves. When clients list an event with us, we always send the sale back to their site. They get to keep the transaction and the customer data. The inventory is their inventory; its real time and tied into their system.
When you work with us, it’s not just a marketing partnership or an advertising spend. You are working with someone who really feels the same way that you do, respects this industry and the people who support it. That’s really important. We believe in the power of live entertainment and that it should be enjoyed broadly. Knowing this, as an arts organization, you can take comfort in the fact that your brand will be presented with care. Our goals are also aligned. What I mean by that is we also want to see our clients happy. If a theatergoer appreciates a story, buys tickets or responds really well to a promotion, we know we’ve made them happy and in turn we’ve made our partners happy.
Anyone in the world of live entertainment with an emphasis on live theater and related events can benefit by partnering with us. We understand them. The people who work at TheaterMania and WhatsOnStage are themselves truly live entertainment fans. These are people who live, breathe and die this industry. We know that’s also true of our fellow arts organizations, our clients.
We’d love to work with your organization! If you’re located in North America, visit the TheaterMania website for more information. If you’re located in the UK, visit the WhatsOnStage website for more information.