When New York City's The Iridium opened in 1994, the buzz was immediate. How could it not be? In founding the club, owner Les Paul — the legendary inductee to the National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame — fashioned both a recording studio and a hush-hush stage for music royalty.
“Les Paul used to play there every Monday night,” Jeff Becker, Marketing Director for The Iridium, tells ToneDen. “You’d have Slash come down or Steve Miller or Brian Setzer — people just walked in and got on stage. It was that kind of place.” It was so that kind of place that The Iridium was featured on an episode of Friends (Joey and Phoebe grab a bite).
Becker, who cut his teeth with Live Nation and Taylor Guitars, understands the 165-seat club's enormous status: "Keith Richards was down there last month in the audience just watching, Steve Miller shows up and jams ... It’s really a musician’s musicians kind of place." And while reputation doesn't always translate into revenue, The Iridium's 25th year is showing the kind of returns that any venue can only hope for.
"At the end of the first quarter," Becker says:
"Compared to the same time period of last year, revenues are up over 400% on that website. We’re talking six figures—and that’s in part to ToneDen."
Knowing Your Audience
For the past two years, Becker has overseen all aspects of marketing from the club. He's a true believer in the role that fans and audience members play in a brand's success. "My big thing about marketing is really how to not just connect as a brand, but how do you connect people to each other around your brand?"
Cultivating connections takes time and patience—something Becker understands as well as he understands The Iridium's audience. ("If you’re a music fan, this is the venue," he says, noting devout fans will see upwards of sixty shows a year.) Over the past couple years, by reconceiving of The Iridium's content, he's grown their Instagram followers from 2,000 to 20,000. The club's other social channel reflect that same ethos.
That's where ToneDen comes in, Becker says. "I did some research and boom, there it was. [ToneDen]. I saw your clientele and I was like, this is something I definitely need. And it was just so obvious. It was a no brainer."
He's been using the platform since November. "It is the strongest form of advertising I have seen. I gotta be honest. I love Google ad words, too—those search ads do drive a lot—but this is different."
"This is social media advertising that’s actually converting."
What accounts for those conversions? Becker's aha moment with ToneDen came when he realized that he had the ability to use his MailChimp account for selective retargeting—"not just spamming people for every show." Hosting jazz, metal, rock acts, and more, The Iridium's audience can wildly vary. "For me to remarket that targeted is truly insane."
Quality Over Quantity
A digital advertising platform should empower users with the kind of data it provides. Before partnering with ToneDen, Becker saw platforms bombarding him with useless particulars. "If you want to do a lot of ads, you don’t need to go into the minutiae of cost per view," he says. "That’s not going to give you the answer. The answer is what did you spend and did it convert and how much was converted. That’s it. I just want to know that."
With an interface that boils down numbers to only the most powerful, ToneDen gave Becker a new clarity. One recent example took the form of a discount ad The Iridium ran. For twelve days, Becker ran a Facebook and Instagram ad that shared a discount code (LESPAUL, obviously).
Spending just $183, The Iridium reached an audience of more than 9,000 people, a group that targeted website visitors, MailChimp entries via ToneDen's integration, and fans of specific artists.
In the twelve days that the ad ran, more than 500 people clicked on it and more than 90 initiated checkout. 33% of those who'd initiated checkout completed a purchase. The end results? A campaign that brought in more than $2,500, a 14x return on ad spend.
Plainly seeing a campaign's machinations "changes everything," Becker says. "It lets us know that we’re doing something right inside. Look, not every ad is going to do that and not every ad might convert. You've still got to be really creative on the ads. That’s the responsibility of the marketer."
“If You’re on Facebook, Why Wouldn’t You Use ToneDen?”
In the coming years, Becker imagines The Iridium growing beyond Manhattan and maybe even beyond the continent. Paris or Chicago are two cities that could support an offshoot of the club, he believes. But for now, his focus is on "taking the venue to another level as far as the bookings or the artists they're going after, taking bigger risks because our operations and our marketing have been stellar."
Venues and artists could benefit from ToneDen, Becker believes, "without a doubt. It would be incredible for restaurants, too. If you’re on Facebook, why wouldn’t you want to use ToneDen?"
But numbers speak louder than words. Becker points to his ROAS, his conversions, his tickets sold. "There’s just nothing to argue against. The proof is there. It’s right in your face ... Look at these results. Look at these numbers. This is insane."