Imagine one organization that puts on Santana concerts for 6,000 and painting classes for six, a month-long Christmas market and a ten-day music festival. An organization that, for more than thirty years, has been a catalyst for innovation in Bethlehem, PA. ArtsQuest is exactly that — and much more.
“We’re an arts-driven nonprofit focused on increasing access to the arts here in our community, and using the arts as a catalyst for urban revitalization,” Jon Lunger, Director of Marketing, tells ToneDen. Founded in the mid-80s, shortly after one-time behemoth Bethlehem Steel began failing (laying off thousands of workers in a single day), ArtsQuest grew out of then-Attorney Jeff Park’s commitment to helping the region redefine itself.
“He wanted to find a reason for people to come downtown again and build up pride in the city,” Lunger says. The result, Musikfest (the K nods to Bethlehem’s Germanic Moravian settlers), drew hundreds of thousands of attendees in its first year. “From that volunteer-driven organization, the festival has grown.” Now, spanning ten days, Musikfest attracts a million people each year with 17 stages of free programming, 60 food vendors, and 500 performances. USA Today recently named it “Best Music Festival in North America.”
A festival that size would keep anyone busy, but Lunger has even more on his plate. “My day-to-day is overseeing all of the organizations and marketing, from our large festivals and events all the way down to our independent cinema, comedy shows, smaller concerts, visual arts class, and everything in between.” With that in between comes a unique marketing challenge.
“We end up having a lot of varying budgets and a lot of different scales that events happen on,” he says — which is why he’s glad to be using ToneDen.
Lunger began working at ArtsQuest in 2005. A music business major at the time, he got in on the nonprofit’s SteelStacks project — a repurposing of the former Bethlehem Steel plant site that transformed more than ten-acres into a campus “dedicated to arts, culture, family events, community celebrations, education and fun.”
Driven by its mission, “I found various ways to not leave [ArtsQuest],” Lunger says. Today, he oversees a team of five responsible for marketing ArtsQuest’s dizzying array of projects, sites, and programming, all examples of what he calls the organization’s “great adaptive reuse.”
Take, for instance, the Banana Factory, a former banana distribution warehouse turned arts center: “It’s been turned into artists’ studios, a glass blowing studio,” Lunger says. “Pennsylvania Youth Theater runs classes out of there. We have galleries; we have the Pediatric Cancer Foundation of the Lehigh Valley — all in there.”
Anyone who markets more than a variety of programming across venues knows the difficulties that Ads Manager can pose. Fortunately, Lunger discovered ToneDen after a switch to Eventbrite last November. A few months later, he started on-boarding for a three-month trial.
“The aha moment came when I saw my bottom line,” he says, “when I saw my conversions increased significantly. We’ve seen our investment yield results 30x fold from what we’ve spent since we’ve gotten on the platform. And that’s pretty incredible.”
We’ve seen our investment yield results 30x fold from what we’ve spent since we’ve gotten on the platform.
Musikfest — and More
What makes Lunger’s experience all the more incredible is the incredible range of experiences, audiences, and event life cycles that ArtsQuest’s marketing needs to account for.
“There’s no typical day for us,” he explains. “Our budgets are so wildly different and my timelines are so wildly different for our business units. Operating a year-round independent cinema? It’s sort of like playing small ball, right? Like I ramp up in October for Oscar season, that runs through the end of February. And then it’s like a ghost town.”
With events like comedy and cinema, Lunger notes, “my budgets are a lot smaller, so I really need to squeeze every penny that I can out of it. If I’ve got ten bucks for an individual show, I really need to squeeze that out on social media. And so ToneDen helps.”
Of course, it helps with the high-octane performers that grace Musikfest’s main stage, too. This year, one of the festival’s headlining acts is Godsmack. Using ToneDen’s Event Announce Playbook, Lunger ran a post alerting fans to the band’s performance; anyone who commented could opt-in to receive a Messenger link to buy tickets when they went on sale:
The Godsmack campaign ran for seven days, with a budget of $250. Reaching more than 20,000 fans, the post saw a 12% engagement rate. Translation: 3,662 fans who spent a whopping $11,946 on tickets — an out-of-this-world 47.7x return on ad spend.
“If You Want More Time and More Sales …”
Lunger has seen ArtsQuest — and marketing, at large — evolve. “We know the number one way that people find out about our events,” Lunger says. “It’s digital.” Given the breadth of their programming, it stands to reason that anyone programming — well, basically any kind of music, arts, or cultural event — could likewise benefit from ToneDen.
He’d recommend the platform to “anyone who is looking to increase their digital marketing and streamline their day.” And while the platform’s ease of use on the front-end is what makes the app “killer,” the results — both on an individual and organizational level — are what make it a must-have, to Lunger. “If you want more time and more sales, you should try ToneDen.”