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Marketing and Communications Strategy: Hackney Empire Theatre Essay

I. Introduction

The dynamic nature of marketing strategy is not caused by its rapidly developing theories or its changing paradigms. It is caused by the fact that different environment requires different strategies. The difference between strategies could be very significant even though the markets are geographically located in the same region. Due to this dynamic nature, the study of marketing and communications strategy will never be completed.

Concerning the issue, this paper will assess the marketing and communications strategy for exotic theatre buildings. The particular object of analysis is the Hackney Empire Theatre, which is one of the oldest and most valuable landmarks in London’s history of Theatre industry. The paper will discuss about generating marketing and advertising strategies for the theatre, segmentation and positioning strategies and also communication strategies.

II. Hackney Empire Theatre

Simply defined, Hackney Empire Theatre is a Music Hall built in 1901. The building is a historical place in London, especially for the performance art industry, because famous characters have all performed there, like WC Fields, Marie Lloyd, Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin. The building has been changing its function several times. It has even been scheduled for demolition at one time. Nevertheless, the building survived all the threats, and today it becomes a historical landmark for many reasons.

One particular reason is because the building was a leading centre in alternative comedy boom in 1980’s. Stand-up comedian of all sorts had performed in this building and many famous ones too. One of its famous occasions is the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year competition. The latest development on the building is the fact that it was closed for three years from 2001 to 2004, in order to install more seats and to make the building suitable for opera performance.

III. Marketing and Advertising Strategies

Advertising strategies usually come about when we are finished designing our marketing schemes. In order to generate the best marketing plan, we need to first completely understand the marketing objectives. In its website, the Hackney theatre mentioned that one of its objectives is to become a recognized leader within the theatre industry, especially in offering opportunities for innovation, dialogue and engagement through all forms of theatre.

In order to achieve that we need to first perform to things, which are: understanding consumers’ environment where we will operate and; understanding the potentials and conditions of the facility we are running. Both of these activities can be performed by means of strategic analysis tools. The first strategic tool that we should use to generate a marketing plan is the Porter’s Five Forces Analysis. This analysis tool helps manager understand conditions of the business environment and psycho-dynamics of the market.

In terms of the theater industry, Porter Five Forces can help us understand the following factors:

– The theatre world is developing. It is used to be understood as a hard place to live, with competitive atmosphere and mediocre pay, but today the industry reported that it has contributed over £ 2.6 billion annually to the UK’s economy. Arts council invests over £ 100 million in 230 theatre organizations in UK for the development of the industry. So young artists and new performances are on the rise (Guide, 2000).

– The environment face a rising level of competition, because audiences are also tempted by modern theatre buildings that are recently built

– There is actually no competition to the historical value of the building, so the Hackney Empire Theatre will always have a unique place in visitors minds, but maintaining the attractiveness of that unique value is a challenge

– The building has a different class or stature among other building. It is not easy for competitors to match the image of the building.

– Its main customer segment is the high class society looking for entertainment in a presentable facility.

Another analysis tool that we can use to guide our marketing and advertising strategy is the SWOT analysis. In terms of the Hackney Theatre building, the SWOT analysis could provide us the following knowledge:

– Hackney Empire Theatre building’s strengths lie on its brand image and historical value. It is important that we maintain such atmosphere of class in every promotional event.

– Its threatening weakness could be its ‘ancient’ image, which could be a turn-off for young and innovative artists Thus, a marketing strategy that attracts this segment should be prepared

– Opportunities lay along with its efforts of dealing with its threats. If management of the building manages to design the building’s image so that it will attract young artists and novel performances, then it would generate a new opportunity for the building’s popularity (Guide, 2000)

From the considerations that have been revealed by the analysis tools, we can generate various effective marketing and advertising strategy, for example: passing away discount tickets, making an advertisement to local TV and radio shows, making a demo performance in nearby campuses, etc.

IV. Segmentation and Positioning Strategies

In addition to the considerations made above, it is also critical that we understand the market enough to generate a marketing segmentation and positioning plan. Segmenting our customers will allow us to: better serve customers and wants, achieving higher profits, creating opportunities for growth, maintaining sustainable customer relationship, etc. Marketing segmentation requires us to do the following: identify customers based on their relevant characteristics to our business offerings; identify their needs and; developing a profile for every customer segment; evaluating the attractiveness of each segment; choosing one or several target segment and then develop a marketing mix for each targeted segment.

There is no space for a detailed segmentation analysis within this paper, but in terms of theater audience, there are mainly 4 groups of people, which are: season ticket buyer, public single ticket buyer, public groups and corporate clients. Referring to the the Hackney Theatre building, the strongest marketing segment is still the upper class society looking for novel forms of sophisticated entertainments. This means the potential target segments are first: the corporate clients, second: the public single ticket buyer and followed by season ticket buyer. Thus, the marketing mix of our marketing and advertising plan must be designed to serve the first particular segment before others. For instant, the suitable advertising plan would be newspaper advertisement, internet advertisement, brochures sent directly to corporate managers, etc (Katz, 1955).

V. Communication Strategies

In using the mass media to influence our targeted customer segments, it is necessary that we consider these communication theories. The first is called the Hypodermic Needle Theory. This theory represent the view that people would be significantly (whether consciously or not) affected by the mass media they are exposed to and all its content. The second theory is called the two step flow theory. Under this view however, we are urged to understand that mass media influences people by multiple steps. First, it is the TV watchers and newspaper readers that are affected first, and then these groups of people will influence others on what they capture from the mass media. This explains why some effort of marketing through the mass media failed (Davis, 1981).

In connection to the theatre industry, management of the theatre building should manage their advertising plan so that it would target mostly the people who are attracted to mass media. Convincing these types of people is the start of convincing the entire population. In practice, theatre advertising should made dramatic and attention getting, without losing its integrity as a high-class performance of art. Such a design might require the assistance of an expert in such advertising field.


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