Celebrating the New
Who doesn’t like a good reason to celebrate? Be it birthday or anniversary, graduation or retirement, special occasions have a way of making people feel joyous. Such events can even be reason enough for many of us to buy a new dress, get a haircut or paint the house.
Philadelphia’s Lantern Theater Co. took the occasion of its 15th anniversary season to make over its season kick-off mailer, sent in July to 15,000 current subscribers and 12,000 arts patrons in the Philadelphia area, highlighting its upcoming 2008-2009 productions.
The theater’s bold 4¾? x 10½? program mailer reflects a shift in the organization’s creative direction, with a bigger size and new design. Breaking away from its typical square brochure, used for several years, the theater rolled out with this new size. “We were finding that other people in our market were going to more standard sizes like the one we had used, so we tried to do something a little different,” notes Leigh Goldenberg, marketing director for the theater (Archive code #580-716799-0809).
Also contributing to this season’s fresh look is the use of collage rather than single images, an approach introduced by designer Allan Espiritu of gdloft (who has worked with Lantern Theater Co. for the last few years). According to Goldenberg, the collage approach offers a way for the organization to represent the many different elements it takes to bring each of these shows together. “Our company is particularly collaborative, and we just thought [the new design] really popped and gave an opportunity to say more about the show than one big image might,” explains Goldenberg.
The collage approach is immediately noticeable on the mailer’s outer panels where the 15th season is called out. Inside the brochure, each of the theater’s productions for the 2008-2009 season is highlighted on a two-page spread, followed by a performance calendar detailing the prices for each show and a perf-off subscription form.
An introductory letter from the organization’s artistic director details how the organization has evolved since its first performance in 1994. According to Goldenberg, just as the theater itself has evolved, so too has the direct mail program, particularly during the last two years under new leadership. With a sharper focus on data and the use of The Philadelphia Cultural List Cooperative, a list exchange with other cultural organizations in Philadelphia, Goldenberg says the theater has been able to significantly improve its targeting ability. “We’ve been able to cut down on the amount of direct mail we send and still see the same, if not a better, response, with a targeted approach,” shares Goldenberg.
Looking ahead, it appears that the Lantern Theater Co. will have a continued emphasis on targeting. “We’re just hoping to target even better and do demographic research on who our current audience is and how it compares to what our mailing list is, and really pare down what geographic areas are successful for us, focus our energy on those places and take away some other locations that aren’t as successful,” Goldenberg describes. “Last year was really about setting up our tracking systems, and this year is about continuing that. Hopefully, by the time we do this mailing next year, we’ll have really great information to make it even more targeted and successful for us.”
It certainly seems that the new design is resonating well with the audience, since this season’s average gift is coming in at $10, $2 more than last season’s average gift. Goldenberg points out that marketing around the 15th anniversary season has likely played a role in the lift in response. “People calling to place their subscription orders always ask to make a donation to the 15th anniversary season,” says Goldenberg. “I think it makes people a little bit more excited.” IDM