Michael Gubbins opened Day 2 with great positivity, “We believe our art form is relevant, we believe it matters to audiences.” The challenge, however, is how we invest in it.
A key debate kicked off in this morning’s workshop: whether to invest in more traditional marketing like print programmes, brochures and posters or, if that same spend could be better put to use on social media marketing and CRM.
Ian Wild from the Showroom in Sheffield talked about their membership scheme and how using their budget in a different way, by investing in CRM, meant they could now read key data, market more directly to more diverse demographics and really build their audience. While their attempts to engage students were unsuprisingly more successful than in attracting more socially and economically deprived communities, the benefits were also that data helped them identify what’s working and what still needs work. The move to CRM also freed up staff time so that they could redirect their energy into new areas of R&D. Where they were previously writing, circulating and distributing brochures they are now able to really target and engage with new audiences.
Hrvjoe Laurenta, from Kino Europa in Croatia, sang the praises of social media and Google Analytics. Accessing precise data means they can better understand the breakdown of their audiences and how social media users are growing, shifting and changing. The money they were spending on print programmes – which customers were not taking up – is now better spent on presenting a more engaged online campaign. Most significantly, is how Kino Europa use social media, not to just advertise screenings, but to educate audiences, “All of our posts on Facebook are educational posts,” Laurenta said.
But opinions in the room were divided; some felt that paying an external company like Facebook was detracting from their own online presence, with too much noise to cut through online, while others were more concerned about how membership schemes would impact relationships with local distributors, and still others made the case for pricing as the key to attracting young and new audiences above all else.
As we already know from the transition from analogue to digital technologies, dealing in absolutes can be tricky, “We live in a digital world but we don’t have to be binary,” Javi Pachón said, “I don’t understand the dichotomy.” Social media and print media marketing both have their utility and, it bears remembering, not every audience is online. Still, data and analytics can equip cinemas with better information from which to make decisions about where to spend.
Sophia Ramcharan from the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham, UK, talked about the need for marketing across multiple platforms and in clear, visible ways. “People need to see a message at least seven times before they act,” she said. Making signage clearer, funkier and more visible has helped their venue attract younger and more diverse audiences, in tandem with a low price ticket offer for under twenty-fives.
David Deprez, from Lumière Cinema in Maastricht in The Netherlands, presented a case study of how a launch can also serve as the focal point for continued campaigning. Every activity their team undertook in the lead up to their grand opening was a stepping stone to the big event. In engaging directly with the history of their local audience, they were also able to create meaningful personal connections between the public and their venue. “Everyone wants to feel at home,” Deprez said, understanding that this means the venue has to be different things to different people. Looking at the instagram of their customers they can conclude the family, food and cats are what’s key. The best way to communicate, then, is through creating and maintaining their own, strong indentity and belief in what they are doing. Deprez truly believes their venue is a place where cultural and social connections can spark, stating, “If you enter our building, you enter our philosophy.”
Photographs courtesy of Ionut Dobre.