In its 91-year history, Portland’s Aladdin Theater has been everything from a Vaudeville house to a pornographic movie screener. Today, though, the 600-seat venue keeps its focus on the music thanks to True West Presents, which in addition to the Aladdin, produces concerts and comedy at Revolution Hall and the Oregon Zoo.
“True West has been around since the 70s,” Frank Rinaldi, Director of Marketing for True West, tells ToneDen, “when it was called Bear Concerts. Steve, the previous owner (of Bear Concerts), started the Zoo series. So it goes back to at least 1979.”
Today, with the relatively recent addition of Revolution Hall to True West’s “venue family,” Rinaldi sees the company taking steps toward continued growth. “It’s really the crown jewel of the club market in Portland,” he says. “True West co-owns Revolution Hall and handles booking, marketing, and ticketing for the venue.”
With ten years in the music/live events space (not to mention an impressive run in late-90s e-commerce and a side hustle running artist management firm Wax Poetic), Rinaldi was basically made to support True West’s marketing. “My team is just two of us,” he says. “We manage about 500 concerts a year on our calendar.”
A tool that makes life a little easier, even for a seasoned pro? ToneDen. According to Rinaldi: “My skill set was taken to the next level with the platform and the tools that are built into it.”
Streamlining Statewide and Beyond
Putting on concerts and festivals across multiple venue in multiple states requires more than next-level organization.
“I was looking for a tool to help streamline our digital marketing and social media marketing,” Rinaldi says. “We execute a ton of paid social campaigns across multiple platforms. We’ve got an account for the Zoo. We have an account for Revolution Hall, an account for True West, an account for The Aladdin. Then we have an account for the festival clients. And I have a personal account for Wax Poetic and consultation clients.”
Introduced to ToneDen through a contact at Eventbrite, Rinaldi quickly found the tool he was looking for. “I was spending so much time building Facebook campaigns and Instagram campaigns,” he admits. “And I really love the initiative of digging deep into targeting and identifying my demographic for each show … The thing that brought me to ToneDen was the ability to really take that deep targeting to the next level.”
True West has been a ToneDen client for just under a year, and Rinaldi doesn’t find himself missing those hours he once spent on Ads Manager “trying to keep up with the tricks and the ever evolving platform.” With ToneDen, there are no tricks. “I’ve improved my ability to convert and sell tickets,” Rinaldi says. “That’s the bottom line.”
I’ve improved my ability to convert and sell tickets.
Rinaldi highlights other key features, too, including the Spotify Interest Audience Wizard. “The ability to segment our custom audience data has been really key,” he notes, “this ability to dig deeper into advanced targeting.”
An Audience Aficionado
Talking to Rinaldi, it’s clear that any smart marketer needs to be a little obsessed with targeting. And targeting, really, is all about audience. Rinaldi has ratios and benchmarks in mind, and he’s not afraid to geek out over the granular.
“I really want to identify 10x of our capacity — that’s kind of my general rule,” he says. “Take a 600 cap room. If I can identify 6,000 to 10,000 people [to advertise to] that are our true target demographic — and most likely ticket buyers — then I feel like I’m doing my job effectively.”
Part of this approach grows out of having his ear to the street — or, at least, knowing the market. “Portland is such a music town,” Rinaldi says. “On any given night, there are five to ten concerts [in addition to ours] that are happening. So you have to dig deep and make sure you’re finding those people: the right people. Not just burning impressions and dollars on casting such a wide net with the hope that you’re going to reel some people in.”
One of Rinaldi’s favorite campaigns to date closed in May. “We had an expectation to sell about 2,500 tickets and we ultimately came about 40 tickets away from a sellout at 3,800. That exceeded expectations and obviously the campaign that we ran through ToneDen for that as a big reason why.”
To advertise the Rain concert at the Oregon Zoo, True West spent $550 over 60 days. They targeted the Oregon Zoo email list, people who’d liked a handful of True West venues, and several artist-based interest audiences. That campaign crushed, bringing in more than $23K — a 42.2x return on ad spend.
“Power at Your Fingertips”
Rinaldi is excited to continue exploring ToneDen’s capabilities, specifically the Playbooks and integrations. And whether he’s speaking as a promoter or someone on the management side, he believes in the value of using ToneDen.
“If you’re a pro and you are really interested in utilizing these tools effectively, there’s no reason why you should not be integrating ToneDen into your marketing,” he says. “This is the most effective tool that you have in this day and age as a music marketer.”
And, while he acknowledges that outreach via radio and print will likely always be part of any marketing budget, he’s quick to tout the need for trackability. “If you want to really effectively use Facebook and Instagram,” Rinaldi says, “there is no piece of software you need other than the ToneDen platform. It really gives you power at your fingertips.”