Digital Marketing interview

Wendy Tsui, Marketing Manager at Gateway Theatre

1. How has the current health situation impacted Gateway Theatre or other non-profit organizations

It would be an understatement to say that the pandemic has turned our world completely upside down as in-person events were the core of our organization. Sadly, we have had to cancel our usual live theatre performances that were scheduled last year and have not been able to resume in-person programming since.

We have also not been able to rent our space to community groups for their own performances and events, such as Richmond’s beloved Richcity Idol. Many youths lost the opportunity to perform on our stage in front of an audience as their year-end recitals and concerts were cancelled. Due to public health restrictions, we have also had to limit the size of our Gateway Academy classes limiting our outreach potential when it comes to youth that have an interest and passion in theatre.

2. What opportunities has the current health condition created for the non-profit sector?

To try new things that we have not done before and push boundaries. Despite the challenges we were faced this past year, we have been able to reimagine how to keep bringing the performing arts to people’s lives. Though, it is not as simple as recording or live streaming a theatre piece to view online. There are many intricacies and nuances that do not translate well when watching a theatre piece digitally. Instead, we have been experimenting with a variety of mediums to reach new audiences, including a beautifully illustrated Hallows’ Eve Paper Theatre kit by local artist Keely O’Brien that was mailed out to families, and an online musical revue featuring past Gateway Theatre artists, Arts While Apart talk show, and most recently Chinese Shadow Puppets workshops. They helped us reach a variety of new and diverse audiences and even people in different countries.

3. What are the top three business or marketing challenges you foresee non-profit organizations encountering in the near future?

  1. Creating compelling content. Creating interesting and appealing online content is challenging at the best of times. Now that more organizations are moving to the digital world, there is growing competition. You will have to dig deep to show how you will differentiate from your competitors and provide value to your customers.
  2. Understanding the customer’s buying decision process. As the world is rapidly changing around us, so is the customer’s behaviour. They, too, may be adapting and spending more time online. Take the time to get to know your customers, study them, listen to them, observe them, and interact with them. By knowing how and why they make their decisions, you know how to reach your customers and effectively spend your marketing dollars.
  3. Adapting to the rapidly changing marketing mix. How you were reaching your customers before the pandemic, may not be as effective now as more are staying at home. If they are not going out, they won’t be picking up brochures, looking at posters – you’ll have to find a different way of reaching them. This is where knowing the customer’s buying decision process can be applied here.

4. Which three digital marketing or social media marketing tools you’d recommend non-profit organizations or small businesses use and why?

  1. Google Analytics. It can be overwhelming at first but once you have the basics of using Google Analytics, it is a very powerful tool to monitor and analyze your website traffic. It can help you track who is coming to your website and making purchases or donations, what they are doing on your website, and how they got onto your website.
  2. Asana. If you have multiple projects on the go this may be the perfect tool for you. With Asana, you can input tasks, specify deadlines, and assign them to different team members, ensuring everyone knows who is doing what. Best of all, it is free for up to 15 team members.
  3. Google Ad Grants. If you have not applied yet, you are missing out! The Google Ad Grants program gives eligible non-profit registered charities $10,000 per month in free advertising to spend on Google Ads. This can help you increase the chances of being discovered when customers search for a particular term in Google.

5. What are three marketing or business tips you would give to small businesses to help them adjust or thrive in the current health situation?

  1. Ensure your staff’s health, safety, and well-being. Working remotely is new and uncharted territory for a lot of employees, and it comes with a host of new challenges that many small businesses have not yet had to face. Be sure to keep your finger on the pulse of any challenges your staff might be facing as they navigate working from home. Onboarding staff remotely is also a new process for many, and extra care must be taken to keep staff engaged, especially younger staff or those new to the workforce.
  2. Having a strong online presence. This includes having a professional up-to-date website and social media to keep your customers in the loop. Your website is where people find out who you are, what you have to offer, where you are, and how a customer can reach you. Posting regularly on social media will increase your reach and drive potential customers to your website. For our posts, we provide value to our audiences, give before asking, and profile other community partners and other businesses whenever possible.
    Especially with the ongoing changes of public health regulations, make it easy for your customers to find your latest updates and any important information they should know about. If they do not have sufficient and updated information, they may move on to a competitor’s business who has the information they want.
  3. Do not be afraid to experiment! It is a whole new world out there – for all of us. As everything is new and uncertain, you cannot wait around to see what your competitors are doing to see if it is successful or not. Keep experimenting to find out what works for your organization and continue to be adaptable and keep an open mind if an idea does not work out.
Wendy Tsui

Wendy TSUI

Wendy Tsui is the Marketing Manager at Gateway Theatre. As the Marketing Manager, she plans and leads the execution of marketing campaigns for all of Gateway Theatre’s artistic offerings and youth theatre classes via the Gateway Academy. Born and raised in Richmond, BC, Wendy is an avid dog lover, and you may find her at one of Richmond’s many dog parks and trails with her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Chloe.