Informatics Starfish Initiative Update: Mirrorbox Strategy

Mar 31, 2022 | Inside Informatics

Informatics is partnering with Mirrorbox Theatre on our latest Give Back initiative. Here's how we're building a new digital marketing strategy for this Cedar Rapids-based organization as part of our Starfish Initiative pilot.

Informatics Starfish Initiative

Last month, we introduced you to our new Starfish Initiative—Informatics’ new project to help young not-for-profits gain the marketing skills they need to grow and scale.

We also announced our pilot partner, Mirrorbox Theatre, a Cedar Rapids-based organization that aims to introduce the state of Iowa to insightful, modern productions written by diverse, and often underrepresented, voices.

Over the past few months, our Digital Marketing team been busy analyzing their goals, developing strategies, and executing plans to promote this phenomenal organization. There's still plenty to be done before our six-month pilot ends, but here's a look at our lessons and learnings so far:

Developing a Marketing Strategy

Even the greatest of marketing strategies usually begin the same way: A group of people sitting around a table, discussing audience, past initiatives, upcoming events, and more. Not-for-profits face their own unique challenges, however, including budget constraints that limit what they can realistically do.

For Mirrorbox Theatre, the pandemic introduced another big hurdle. While most of us think of theater as live and in-person, COVID forced the performing arts organization to shift all of its productions online.

Despite the change, Mirrorbox was successful in drawing virtual audiences across the country, all while still managing to pay their actors for their efforts. With COVID-19 restrictions and fears beginning to life, the organization's leaders want to bring their productions back to the stage and needed our help getting the word out.

Knowing Mirrorbox produces modern plays never before performed in Iowa, their challenge is unlike your typical theater company.

“We’re not going to get the attention we would if we produced 'Mamma Mia,'” quipped Mirrorbox’s Founder and Artistic Director Cavan Hallman.

Scenes from Mirrorbox Theatre

Cavan described the typical attendee as a Midwestern theater-lover who has seen many bigger, more mainstream productions, and is ready to move on to something more contemporary and thought-provoking.

Feeling we understood Mirrorbox’s position and growth goals, our Digital Marketing team put their heads together to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that could be continued after our formal pilot ends.

The Plan In Action

Maddie: Google Ad Grant, Website Updates

As a small and relatively-new organization, one of Mirrorbox’s bigger goals was to achieve visibility in the community. We know that Google is one of the most effective ways to find local businesses, and decided the platform was instrumental to our strategy.

Google also offers some great incentives for not-for-profits: Through Google’s Ad Grant program, they can receive up to $10,000 toward Google Ads campaigns.

Maddie Shepard, our analytics expert, walked Mirrorbox through the application process and recommended Google Ad strategies that would be most beneficial. Now, the organization is taking full advantage of Google grant funds, giving them a much-needed leg up in the competitive world of digital ad spends.

Maddie also set up Mirrorbox’s existing site with Google Tag Manager so they can track important conversions on their website like ticket sales or form submissions.

Isabelle: Geofencing Ads, Google Ads, and Google Data Studio 

With their Google Ad Grant approved and ready to spend, marketing expert Isabelle Fiester conducted keyword research to figure out the right words and phrases to use in the ads and to help Mirrorbox get found on the web. Using focused search terms, she proposed search and display ads for upcoming shows and events. 

Because we’re looking to capture the attention of people already interested in theater, we also decided to launch geofencing ads. This emerging marketing tool allows us to “draw a virtual outline” around specific performances and deliver digital ads to devices in that location.

Isabelle also built out the organization’s Google Data Studio dashboard—a live, customizable report on their website activity.

Haley and Amanda: Social Media Consulting and Facebook Ads

At the time of our initial discussion, Mirrorbox had two important needs: to promote their upcoming shows and to increase their presence in the Eastern Iowa area. Social media marketing experts Amanda Hoffmann and Haley Johnson developed a paid social media strategy to address both.

Since Mirrorbox is a relatively new organization, they’re still building a community of engaged followers. Targeting the Cedar Rapids area, they launched a Page Likes Ad through Facebook, which promoted the Mirrorbox Facebook page and encouraged users to hit the “like” button. The hope is that people who follow the page will engage with posts, see shows, and ultimately spread the word about Mirrorbox.

Haley and Amanda also created paid social media ads for “Cycle Play,” the organization's first in-person play since the pandemic. Since Mirrorbox already had an event created on their page, the ad was set up to encourage “interested” or “going” responses.

With three months to go in our pilot program, we continue to plan and execute exciting initiatives for Mirrorbox. We’re opening our entire marketing playbook for our Starfish projects, and are constantly thinking of ways to elevate their position in our community. For more information about our Starfish Initiative, its origin story and how Informatics is giving back, check out our recent blog post.

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