Sacramento Bee delivers audience to struggling advertiser


B Street Theatre is a local favourite for playhouse theater in the Sacramento, California, region. 

Known for quality performances, innovative plays, support of emerging playwrights, and an intimate theatre experience, B Street is well-regarded locally.

However, economic pressures, upcoming expansion plans, and a decline in attendance dictated a new and necessary approach.

B-Street Theatre has embarked on a major expansion plan that will soon move it into a larger venue offering more seating for the region. Growth in audience attendance must accompany their business expansion. 

Outside of the agreement to publish their playbills, B Street’s advertising investment was minimal and inconsistent across all local media, including The Sacramento Bee daily newspaper.

During a sales call, B Street challenged us to prove that we could deliver the audience they were seeking and illustrate how they could afford us as the advertising vehicle(s).

Senior research analyst Frank Wofford immediately saw the opportunity. We knew we could offer even greater insight into how we were the right partner to help them grow their business.

To fulfill this, we asked to do a data-sharing project. If B Street Theatre would share their customer base with us to analyse, we would deliver them a report with incredible insight into who their most valuable customers are and an affordable strategy and plan for how to acquire more theatregoers.

After signing the non-disclosure agreement, we integrated The B Street customer file into our business database and appended demographic and lifestyle variables to the address matches in our database.

Meeting to present the results:m Prizm-coded Scarborough data provided a benchmark for discussion on the overall live theatre attendance in the region.

A larger percentage of their programme ticketholders are baby boomers (principally PRIZM Life Stages M1 and M2). The fact that 80% of their programme subscribers are age 65+ was an “eye-opener” to the client. 

This fact led to a re-examination of their go-to market strategy and selection of audience segments they are targeting.

Nationally, local community theaters have increasingly been shifting their media strategies and programming to attract younger audiences. B Street’s efforts to capture older, more affluent baby boomers is counter to the usual trend.

But, this is an example of knowing where you should focus for your best return. This business is paying attention to the “most valuable generation” (baby boomers) and getting a return. 

While there is an immediate return from the “most valuable generation” (baby boomers), B Street rightfully wants to mine and build what interest it can from younger age segments, as well.

Important to securing the integrated holiday campaign was our successful implementation of a deal-saver programme (our Groupon-like offering), which delivered great results.

B Street deal-saver buyers: Fifty-four percent of buyers had no prior appearance on their customer file (new customers).

A positive higher percentage of buyers was also seen in higher proportion than the market average in segments targeted for future growth: The Young and Family life stages.

The B Street Theatre executives found this information extremely insightful. Being able to gain perspective on their customers and talk about the kind of audience segments that are most valuable to their business goals has helped focus the conversations and establish our team as their primary consultants and media partner.

We are now in position to implement a multi-channel marketing programme for their holiday subscription campaign because we can find the audience they seek across a variety of our platforms:

  • impression programme; geo-targeted.

  • Yahoo: behaviourally targeted to performing arts; geo-targeted to their local market.

  • In-newspaper print ads in The Bee, including Friday Ticket (entertainment), Sunday A&E (arts), main news and a position in the Holiday Tab.

  • Bee-note distribution in select ZIP codes matching the target.

Looking forward we will do follow-up customer file analysis to monitor our goal of getting their selected targets into seats. 

The account managers have built a valuable relationship of trust. Client meetings are now full of open dialogue focused on business goals and customers, as opposed to constant proposals based on the latest “special deal” or programme. Every proposed campaign is developed from intelligent learning directly from their customers and market potential.

To summarise:

  • Thorough needs assessment.

  • Analysis of current customer file.

  • Proposal set from data interpretation matched with business goals from needs assessment.

  • Showing alignment of audience and audience targets with our product channels where those audience segments are found.

  • Monitoring results and delivering a report on performance and forward strategy.

Shared with permission of B Street Theatre, Sacramento, California, USA.

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