Podcast: Engaging Today’s Theater Guest With Shows Like Hamilton

by | Aug 24, 2021

marketing for theater and the entertainment industry

Reaching a guest with multiple marketing touches keeps this historic theater top-of-mind with modern audiences.

Since 2015, Ashley Birdsell Lewis has been the Weinberg Center for the Arts’ manager of marketing and only employee in her department. In this podcast episode, Whitney mines Ashley for her not-so-secret formula of running a one-woman marketing team. (Spoiler: it includes equal parts data and coffee, and a whole lot of following her gut.)

“When I came on board, there was absolutely no digital media spending coming out of my department, which is crazy pants to think about!”

In the three seasons since Ashley joined the historic arts venue, she’s shifted it from its “spray and pray” mentality into more targeted territory. “It’s re-targeting, behavioral targeting, geo-targeting, on a number of different platforms.” Now, she says, “almost half my budget is being dedicated to digital media.”

With limited man-power, and 150 events to promote annually, her business background helps her interpret data. In turn, her data-driven approach lets her know what she should prioritize.

For example, data shows her it’s cheaper to keep a patron than to reach a new one. So how to enhance their experience, spark a conversation between patrons, and create ambassadors who spread the word of mouth? Those are among Ashley’s marketing goals. “Not every action or ad needs to generate revenue.” Sound like a scary thought? Ashley seems to make it work.

“Not every action or ad needs to generate revenue.” – Ashley Birdsell Lewis talking marketing @WeinbergCenter @bardvideo

Click to Tweet

Other Ashley must-haves:

  1. New technology: “Marketers need to stay on top of cutting edge technology. They’re not silly fads that will fade away. It’s proven to have lasting sway and they’ll engage our customers in the long run.” Plus it increases accessibility by “removing physical and literal barriers.”
  2. Multiple touch points: “As a marketer, you never really know which touch point is going to be in…I know there’s value in that ad just being one of many touch points someone is going to see.”
  3. “All boats rise”: A phrase they use around her office to describe what happens when they announce and put their entire season line up on sale together. “Those shows we feel are a little weaker are definitely going to be buoyed by the excitement of the other shows.”

In the bonus content, Ashley touches on her time in New York, working with a small, then-off Broadway show called Hamilton.

Want more destination and attraction marketing insights? Find our most recent chats on the Zesty Marketing Podcast.

* indicates required