In Macon, Georgia, you’ll find an alligator swamp home to ten types of salamanders and the Big House, where the Allman Brothers spent their formative years, but for wildness, history, and entertainment, visit Hargray Capitol Theatre.
“[Hargray] was one of the first movie theaters in the state of Georgia that had air conditioning,” Brandon Bish tells ToneDen. “A big fan underneath the building with a bunch of little canals would blow up air through the seats.”
Bish is Director of Marketing at HGC — and a Macon native. He’s fluent in discussing charms of the former cinema (i.e., a screen woven with gold to reduce flickering), local musical lore (how Little Richard calls the Georgia town “better than anywhere”), and, of course, marketing events.
“I’ve been booking bands and doing show promotion in Macon for about ten years,” Bish says. “Macon was really big in the early ’70s, late ’60s. Growing up, I always heard ‘what a music town Macon is,’ but people kind of complained about how Macon was a great city back in the day when Capricorn Records was around, so me and my friends started booking and promoting shows.”
All those shows made Bish see how entertainment could change the lives of his peers. “People who had just graduated high school and college — it really gave them something to do that wasn’t a bar. So I kept doing it, kept on putting shows, and kind of made a name for myself.”
These days, Bish sees ToneDen as life-changing for the work he does at Hargray Capitol Theatre.
“ToneDen offered us a platform to promote our shows that gave us more information and the ability to edit each individual ad different than what Facebook was giving us,” he says. “Most of our promotion is going to be through social media, and ToneDen allows us to do that with Facebook and Instagram. So far it’s been really awesome.”
Exciting Ways to Promote
The talent Hargrave Capitol hosts ranges from the Indigo Girls to Phillip Phillips. What unifies the program, of course, is Bish’s commitment to keeping the Theatre’s fans invested. For that aim, ToneDen is one of his most important tools: “ToneDen offers a few different ways of promoting shows that can keep people excited and keep people engaged.”
One ToneDen feature that’s been especially awesome for HGC is the Event Announce Playbook. Part of a new suite of multi-tiered marketing strategies, the Event Announce Playbook is designed to run a campaign to promote a just-announced show — and collect Facebook Messenger subscribers.
Bish used an Event Announce Playbook for a recent Drake White show.
“Normally I’ll make an announce and then I’ll put a little money behind it, and then four days later when the show’s onsale I’ll make an onsale announcement and then you know that’s it.”
The Event Announce Playbook does that — and more. The first stage of the Playbook consists of an announce campaign, not so dissimilar from the sort Bish typically makes. In this case, HGC ran an ad letting their Facebook followers know when the Drake White tickets would go on sale. Fans were encouraged to comment on the post to get a link to the purchase page.
That comment prompted fans to subscribe to HGC’s Messenger list. After they’d opted in, Messenger sent fans received the link to buy tickets (plus a friendly reminder), completing the second stage of the Playbook.
The results blew Bish away. “After a day we were getting tons of interaction with it, tons of people commenting on it … then when it went on sale I was really pleasantly surprised with how quick it had sold a good number of tickets.”
In fact, for just $20 Bish ran a campaign that reached more than 2000 people. With 27 people commenting on the post and 20 of those people subscribing to HGC Messenger list, the Playbook netted the theatre a whopping 20x return on ad spend.
Bish plans to make Playbooks an integral part of Hargrave Capitol’s marketing strategy. He’s especially excited about the way fans react to Messenger.
“People like to engage, like to do something, they want to comment, they want to see something back, and the language that Messenger uses — a lot of emojis, a lot of adjectives and exciting words and exclamations — gets people kind of excited,” he says.
“It’s more of a fun channel of communication than email, and it’s also direct: as soon as you get it, your phone is going make a noise and alert you.”
For Bish, ToneDen has helped HGC create a more community-driven approach to marketing, one that energizes its fans. This has never been more important. As Jim Prior writes in a recent column in AdWeek, “The businesses of the future must be highly connected, socially responsible entities that align their best interests with those of multiple audiences in new and inspiring ways.”