Schaefer Advertising Co.


So Susie visited your museum once. How do you get her to come back? Kevin has attended the theater once a year, every year. Why is he not a subscriber? The Smith family has been aquarium members for 6 years, but they’ve never donated a penny outside of that. Why not?

In the entertainment space, everything we do is about engaging with our customers and convincing them to come back. Not once, not twice, but regularly. And if you’re doing it really well, then your guests are also referring friends, family and colleagues, donating and serving on committees that help you support your mission. But how do you create a plan to guide individuals or families within your target market to become advocates? Get to know your audience at every point in their journey to understand their needs and meet them there. The following steps will help you turn guests into a dedicated fanbase.

Step 1: Create a Continuum

Understanding that not every customer is created equal, and each journey may look a little different, is crucial to improve your guests’ experience and help focus your efforts where they can generate the greatest impact.

Your target market may be vast. Explore looking at your audience with a linear mindset. Start with those who have never heard of or visited your space and frankly, aren’t too keen on doing so. Graduate to people who come around once in a while, primarily at the invitation of someone else. From there, focus on regular yet somewhat inconsistent attendees. Once someone is regularly visiting your venue, they may become a member or subscriber. Lastly, the tried and true, your donors and advocates.

The Visual Continuum

Now let’s focus our efforts. Aligning your budget, energy and time to nurture relationships that have the strongest opportunity for impact is important. We recommend focusing on three key opportunities of growth:

  1. Single triers to regular buyers
  2. Repeat visitors to committed members
  3. Annual members to ongoing donors

Step 2: Define Your Audience Subsets

Look at each of these levels and put some definition to them. The better you know each group, the easier it is to build a plan to move them to the next step. Consider demographics, psychographics, geographies and ultimately, what motivates each group. 

Expert Take Buyer

Take a look at the baseline for each group:

  • What percentage of your revenue is supported by them? 
  • Where does your business have the most opportunity for growth? 
  • Are people who try once organically becoming regular attendees? 
  • Do you have trouble moving members into the donor category and why do you think that may be? 
  • What is the average lifetime value for an individual or household at each stage?

Understanding the potential value of each stage provides guidance and direction on what investments should be made to grow that group of people into the next stage.

For example, if your members have the highest revenue contributions, but you have significantly more multi-ticket buyers, there is a clear opportunity to focus efforts to navigate your buyers into members by developing personalized campaigns that focus on the benefits of membership based on what motivates them. A higher percentage of your time and budget can be justified in this space because the return potential is there. 

Step 3: Invest in Growth

Convincing the decision maker of the household to invest more time and money with your organization involves building a strong relationship and providing value and other incentives to entice repeat purchases. Here are some opportunities you can explore with your various audiences to help move them along your continuum. 

  1. Personalization
    • Use purchase history and data to segment your audiences in a way to provide specialized recommendations for events, tickets and opportunities that match their interest. Capturing this data regularly is key to be able to use it to increase revenue.
  2. Exclusivity
    • Host exclusive events or pre-sales for loyal customers. Provide value by making them feel special which in turn incentivizes them to purchase early and frequently. 
  3. Offer a Loyalty or Referral Program
    • Reward your customers for multiple purchases/visits or referring others to attend. You can provide benefits like exclusive access, free tickets, discounts and more!
  4. Ask for Feedback
    • Engage directly with your purchasers. It will show that you value their input, and they will be more likely to engage more frequently. Plus, you learn and can improve!
  5. Create Urgency and Scarcity
    • Occasional limited-time offers or promotions create a sense of urgency without devaluing your brand. This doesn’t have to be a steep discount but can be a limited ticket type for a special event or creating an additional early-bird ticket tier.

Building brand advocates takes time and effort, and it is most important to align your communication and marketing strategies with the positive experience your customers have when they visit. Focus on delivering personalized value and fostering relationships to increase the customer lifetime value.

Does your business both entertain and make a difference? Do you struggle balancing your messaging strategy between opposing dynamics?

Mission-driven brands do a great job of defining what they do, and “why” they do it. But, focusing solely on why you operate may create a gap between converting people who are interested in purchasing tickets or memberships. Your mission may be animal conservation or introducing art to the underserved, but if we don’t do a good job enticing consumers to engage, they may never even know about your mission. And, if we go to market with pure mission-based messaging, we may not engage the consumer enough to support it. This is where the expertise of a communications partner who understands the landscape of your business will truly pay off.

Leading with entertainment or education is often a winning strategy to engage consumers in a way that helps you support your mission. A simple example of this is a zoo. While conservation is at the top of the mission message, it’s the promise of entertainment and engagement that drives ticket sales, and therefore revenue, to support the mission of conservation. Imagine what this scenario looks like in your business. Are you leading with the right messaging to drive awareness, attendance and sales?

Bridging the Gap: Creating Loyalists and Driving Revenue

While loyal followers and superfans will always be there to support the mission, the goal is to constantly bring in new guests and create more loyalists. The road to creating a member, subscriber or donor is a journey, not a single transaction, and it takes an understanding of their perceptions to help bridge the gap. There are a few key points to consider as you pursue new customers regardless of the business you are in.

  1. Be aware of the perception your business category has among those you are trying to reach. 
  2. Understand if there is a communication gap between what you offer and what your audience perceives.
  3. Adapt your messaging in a way that helps bridge the gap between perception and reality. 
  4. Work to break down the roadblocks for the public to understand the experience you offer.
  5. Help usher in first-time visitors in a way that feels welcoming and relatable.

Helping organizations honor their purpose while at the same time allowing the public to participate in their mission in a way that provides engagement is the key to driving revenue to support the mission.

Where Messaging and Mission Meet

Find a partner who is experienced in distilling a mission into a relatable communication. In a perfect world, a well-crafted creative delivery intersects with the consumer in a way they can understand, allowing them to digest the message and participate in the mission.

We have a saying at Schaefer, “We understand the business of our client’s business,” and what that means is pretty simple. We know how to navigate the needs of key stakeholders, employees and consumers to achieve a three-way win. We know where to look for insights, the right questions to ask and what to promote to articulate your mission in a way that consumers can relate to and comprehend.

Demystifying the specific areas of art and entertainment in a way that helps them become more relatable to more people is a successful way to engage and mobilize more advocates for your organization. Whether you manage an animal attraction with a conservation mission or a symphony, museum, ballet or opera with the goal to capture the hearts and minds of more people, there is a fine balance to strike. Understanding the landscape and how to engage the target in a way that invites them in is the difference between simply surviving and creating a thriving entity. So, continue to evolve the way you articulate your mission to meet the needs and changing expectations of the consumer to avoid stagnation in your mission.

Guiding consumers on their journey to experience new art and entertainment can be complex and finding the right way to encourage actions is an art in itself. This art form includes mastery of the message and medium, which ultimately includes the path to engagement and purchase. Whether you operate a ticketed attraction, a not-for-profit entity or subscription-based membership, there are a handful of strategies you should consider.

  1. Ask yourself if you are playing it safe. Are you staying too close to your mission language?
  2. Consider engaging a marketing partner who understands your business.
  3. Conduct research among your consumers. Who are they today? Who do you want to include tomorrow? Gauge their tolerance for messaging.
  4. If you asked 10 people to articulate your mission, what do you think you will hear?
  5. Don’t be clouded by trendy tactics; ensure the strategy to engage prevails.

Our team of experts are here to help.

For almost 15 years, Schaefer has had a dedicated team focused on purchasing intent in the entertainment space. We call ourselves the Attractions, Tourism & The Arts team. We are experts in understanding how to get in front of your target market and convince them to invest in your experience.

If you share your business goals with our team, we will educate ourselves on your market and develop a strong, data-driven plan to drive sales. At the end of the day, if you’re successful, we’re successful.

If you’ve ever evaluated a marketing campaign utilizing an integrated analytics platform, you’re probably somewhat familiar with attributing success to certain channels. For example, your report may indicate that based on last-click attribution, paid search drove 400 conversions totalling $20,000 in revenue. Last-click attribution is the attribution model that measures which marketing touchpoint a customer last clicked on or engaged with before purchasing, and gives it 100% of the credit. But what other touch points did your customer interact with to get to that purchase? How did each of your efforts work together to drive those purchases? And what was the most common path to conversion for your customers? These are essential questions to answer in order to build a successful media program for achieving your business goals.

Widening your view

It was once common practice to rely on last-click attribution. According to Google, a data-driven attribution model is much more sophisticated and will yield stronger results. Key benefits include reaching users earlier on in their path to purchase and being more customized to your business and your consumers. When you evaluate based on the full consumer journey(s), you get a better and more accurate view of what is driving success.

Schaefer's Approach to Media Planning

Let’s see it in action

We believe in holistic planning that capitalizes on the strength of each channel based on your campaign’s unique goals. There’s no one-size-fits-all media strategy.

Take these examples from our clients for instance:

Campaign 1 is for a company with strong brand awareness promoting an event that is often considered a family tradition. 

  • 72% of online purchasers in 2022 only needed 2-3 online touchpoints to convert.
  • Of the 500 different conversion paths, 85% included direct traffic as a touchpoint. 
  • 55% of the 2-3 touch conversion paths included both paid and organic search.

For Campaign 2, let’s look at data from a new company with minimal brand awareness promoting annual memberships. The data looks significantly different. 

  • Roughly 45% of users needed at least 4 touch points to convert.
  • With only 79 different conversion paths, paid media played a contributing role in almost 75% of conversions. 
  • The top two conversion paths, making up 35% of all conversions, began and ended with paid search. Meaning that both the first and last touches for those customers were from search queries where the prospect clicked a paid ad. 

What do you do with all this data?

Not all customers are created equal, but strong behavior patterns arise when your audience targeting is accurate. When evaluating campaigns, here are some questions you should ask:

  1. How much brand awareness is there amongst our target audience?
    • The more brand awareness you’re working with, the more you are able to rely on direct and referral traffic to drive conversions. The majority of your media budget should be in the ‘consideration’ phase.
    • If brand awareness is low, make sure to set aside additional budget to fill the funnel, and to convert users. You will need more budget for paid media the lower your brand awareness is.
  2. What is the size of our target market?
    • To help with budgeting, evaluate your total target audience size and how many clicks to purchase are needed per conversion. The larger your audience and the more clicks needed historically, the more budget you will need (and the more opportunity for revenue there is).
    • Keep in mind what role your direct traffic plays in this equation and adjust your budget accordingly.
  3. Do we see trends with specific channels, first-click, last-click, etc.?
    • If there is consistency within your data set, lean into that and adjust your strategy to leverage it by flighting and/or optimizing budgets.
    • Review your data to determine the top paths to conversion, then attribute success based on the likelihood to influence that conversion.

Don’t forget that awareness media is what drives the top of the funnel. Your awareness channels may rarely appear in these conversion paths, but they are critical to success. If you remove all awareness, you risk running through your quality leads at the onset of a campaign and seeing a quick dropoff after early strong success.

Our team of experts

For almost 15 years, Schaefer has had a dedicated team focused on purchasing intent in the entertainment space. We call ourselves the Attractions, Tourism & The Arts team. We are experts in understanding how to get in front of your target market and convince them to invest in your experience.

If you share your business goals with our team we will educate ourselves on your market and develop a strong, data-driven plan to drive sales. At the end of the day, if you’re successful, we’re successful.