The Reif Center's Tips to Increase Your Event Attendance

Art Unlimited was blessed with the opportunity to speak with Katie Benes of the Reif Center regarding their event attendance strategy. In this interview, Katie gets to the heart of how the Reif focuses their efforts to reach a wide range of audiences.

What social media channels do you find work well to create awareness and engagement?

We have been using Facebook the longest. The Reif Center’s audience is traditional in age, more mature. Facebook has a huge growing audience in “mature” ages. Twitter can be more challenging. Instagram is very exciting. It makes our venue highly visible and fits well with the culture of people we are trying to attract.

How do you use traditional and digital marketing to complement one another?

This season we have our biggest roster of events between September and June. It is a tight timeline. Our print advertisements help drive traffic to Facebook, and the website. They are the places where people can find more information after they see it in print. The website is the go-to spot where people can find what’s happening.

We work to use traditional media to push people back to the website. The ticketing system doesn’t charge online fees and relieves stress at the box office. This creates a good digital experience for purchasing tickets.

How vital is your digital presence to helping attendees find event information?

Without the website, we wouldn’t exist. The biggest marketing piece is the brochure, people wait for it and call in advance for it. That gets sent out in July, but ultimately it’s a piece of paper that gets lost. We understand it has a shelf life, like everything else.

The brochure gets sent out in July, and performances start in September. So between July and September, we use the website and social media to keep people thinking about the events.
Sometimes, events come up spontaneously, so we also use the website and Facebook to feed people that information quickly.

What would you say is your main form of event attendance generation?

The two most vital parts to generate attendance for us is a traditional marketing piece, being our seasonal brochure, and our website. The site is essentially an e-commerce site. The ticketing provider is vital. Our e-mail list is also robust. Any kind of advertising we run points back to a website.

What social media strategy do you utilize to increase attendance?

Our strategy is to let people know what’s coming. The first step is to create events. For a particular show, it starts about a month out. We want to create more interesting content than “Don’t forget, this is coming….” Instead, our strategy is more engagement. “This performer just arrived, check out a picture of their tour bus”, or “Cabaret is setting up outside, take a picture of their bus and post it to social media”

We try to create a buzz rather than just posting information. Facebook is a really productive channel in terms of promoting performances, as we are able to specifically target audiences.

For Example, Pam Tillis has a very different audience than The Nutcracker. Facebook is able to hone into the target audience we need. As a nonprofit, advertising on social media is cost-effective. We are a little bit behind on the platform but are getting more knowledgeable, and using it more and more.

How do you organically make your events discoverable?

On the website, as events pass, they fall off the calendar, and new stuff moves to the top. This means that email campaigns are important. We send out an e-blast that promotes multiple similar events to create connections for the audience, ” if you like X, you’ll like Y, coming up… ”

We recommend when you have a platform that shares information, being mobile-friendly site is crucial. When you purchase a ticket, the confirmation page has the option to share on Facebook. Our email blasts have the option to share information via email and social. Share-ability of information is a huge piece of our marketing.

Do you utilize event remarketing on Facebook to target potential attendees?

Not yet. Ads on Facebook are pretty user-friendly. I’m still learning all the things that go into making the ads. We will be checking into it in the future. I think it would be a good use of our dollars in the future.

What The Reif Wants Others To Know:

Having a mobile-friendly website is a very important part of your marketing. Being able to allow customers to purchase tickets online is huge, and having a mobile site that allows customers that feature is immense.

Traditional marketing can eat up a budget, your budget, quickly. Radio advertising works but burns up your budget fast. You need to be smart about how you’re using those dollars, and to how to keep the buzz after the ad is over. Digital marketing is much cheaper and easier to use to keep customers in the know and create an ongoing energy.

As Katie mentioned, getting into the digital world for advertising starts with a strong website foundation. Once you have your website SEO and user experience meeting mobile standards, the real work begins. If you need help knowing where to start with your digital marketing, connect with Art Unlimited to receive a free consultation to get your event marketing underway!

Read: Managing Your Social Media Marketing