Sugar Land, just twenty miles west of Houston, is one of the fastest growing cities in the US — and home to one of the country’s most impressive new concert venues, Smart Financial Centre. Barely a year old, the stage at SFC has already been graced by Jerry Seinfeld and KISS, Bollywood stars and Disney acts. Marketing Director Andrew Huang sees such variety as a positive.

“We had a good first year,” he tells me. Huang, a former VP of marketing for the Houston Astros, knows events — and when there’s cause to celebrate. According to Venues Now, SFC’s ticket sales ranked fifth in the world among venues its size (5,001–10,000 seats).

That’s a lot of tickets. While the volume might intimidate some marketers, Huang can seize the opportunity, thanks in part to ToneDen.

“We have so many shows,” he tells me, “we keep announcing more and more.” ToneDen’s there to help SFC “set up our social campaigns and have it be efficient and see results. It saves time, and it helps me know whether what we’re doing is working or not.”

Image Credit: Smart Financial Centre

Hosting a Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Lets You Take Risks

But ToneDen doesn’t just help Smart Financial Centre see results; it helps them discover totally new results to look for. That’s what happened when they tried out a Pre-Sale Playbook for an upcoming Steve Miller Band show.

The Steve Miller Band and classic rock icon Peter Frampton? You know there’s going to be a crowd.

When the audience is a given, it’s a good time to test out new strategies. “This campaign was our first try at involving the Messenger component for a pre-sale,” Huang says.

Plenty of strategizing goes into marketing events. It helps that their lifecycles are predictable: 23% of aggregate ticket sales happen within the first week of general on-sale, with 11% selling the first day. And marketing directors like Huang know if they offer early access to a show, fans will jump. Pre-sales lead to more ticket purchases, which, in turn, sell out a show quicker.

ToneDen’s Playbook addresses several marketing objectives with one, multi-tiered strategy. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: A fan sees the post and sends Smart Financial Center a message to get the pre-sale code.

Step 2: A message is sent from SFC to the fan. This confirms they want that pre-sale code — and subscribes the fan to the Messenger list. The day pre-sale goes live, the fan gets a message from SFC.

“Part of Our Pre-Sale Checklist”

The results of SMC’s Pre-Sale Playbook were terrific. “The response was great,” Huang says. “We can really grow with this kind of thing and make it a part of our pre-sale checklist.”

“It’s basically rewarding people for interacting with our Facebook page,” Huang says. And as marketers work to figure out how Facebook’s new algorithm will impact best practices, one thing’s for certain: anything that can promote an organic connection between a venue and a fan is vital.

Huang sees incorporating Messenger into his marketing strategy as a new necessity.

“Facebook is really a great vehicle to promote concert tickets. It works, it definitely works. This Messenger component is definitely a way to reach people, and the fact that it’s all part of the ToneDen software is what makes it so attractive. We definitely plan to become experts at this.”

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