In its two year history, Houston’s Smart Financial Centre has become a big deal— so much so that it was just purchased by the UK's Ambassador Theatre Group. It's easy to see why. Its first year, Smart Financial Centre’s ticket sales ranked ninth in the world for venues with fewer than 10,000 seats. The secret formula? Pack your calendar with must-see acts and know your audience.
“The area of town where the venue is located has a very strong Indian and Asian population,” Andrew Huang, Director of Marketing at Smart Financial Centre, tells ToneDen. “We’ve done quite a bit of programming for that demographic in addition to mainstream concert fare, family programming, different types of theatrical performances, concerts. We have extremely diverse programming in the building.”
An Extra Boost for a Marketing Expert
Huang, who came on board SFC before the theater opened, has a rich background in marketing. He’s as comfortable talking home runs (thanks to a stint with the Houston Astros) as haute couture (he was Director of Marketing at The Galleria, Texas’s toniest mall). But for the past two years, he’s had an ancillary asset.
“I was made aware of ToneDen when I attended a marketing conference," Huang says. "The immediate appeal was the ability to centralize and manage our social media marketing. And I particularly love seeing the metrics of how well our campaigns are performing, but also being able to test different creatives and how the budget automatically siphons to the ads that people are responding to.”
Recently, Huang learned about a new ToneDen feature that makes his metrics look better than ever: Dynamic Event Ads. "Social Media retargeting that can be managed in one place with performance metrics was very appealing to us," Huang shares.
"We want to capture that fan — who inquires about a show but doesn’t purchase — and pursue them until they buy!"
Curating the Calender
What are Dynamic Event Ads? When a venue has a calendar of acts booked — for a month or a season — they need to market each one of those shows. Instead of having to build individual campaigns for each of those events (a time-consuming and costly process), marketers like Huang use ToneDen's Dynamic Event Ads to create ads for all their events at once and show those ads to a targeted audience.
Remember SFC's boastable diverse programming? ToneDen mines SFC's event catalogs (from, say, Ticketmaster or Eventbrite) to populate events' names, dates, and locations; from there, ToneDen crafts target audiences keyed to each event page's specific visitors. The result is unprecedented efficiency and astronomic return on ad spend.
Huang is currently running ToneDen's Dynamic Event Ads for a lineup that ranges from Lionel Richie to Peppa Pig, the porcine star of a British animation series for tots. "Setting this up individually for every show can be time consuming," Huang says. "The ToneDen platform allows us to set up one campaign that targets fans across all of our shows ... As the campaign moves along, it starts to get smarter with Facebook’s algorithms and targeting the right Facebook users."
The numbers reflect that intelligence. With an ad spend of just over $400, Huang's DEA campaign has reached nearly 32,000 people. Almost 1,300 of those people have clicked; 119 have bought tickets. In fact, the campaign has already brought in $27,681 revenue dollars — a 65.7x return on ad spend.
"They Understand My Business"
To Huang, DEAs are a sign that the people behind ToneDen know the ins and outs of event marketing. “One of the things I love about ToneDen is that they are constantly looking for the next way to reach fans,” Huang says. “They understand my business so they are looking for solutions that work but are also easy for us to implement.”
Huang believes DEAs are definitely worth investigating, for “anyone who does event marketing whether it’s concerts, sports, arts programming,” especially in this day and age: “So many of our fans live on social media. The ability to identify them and their interests and then follow them with ads for shows they have an affinity for is just good marketing.”