“The Internet has changed everything,” says Chester Playhouse general manager Erick Bickerdike. That includes how the theatre in this tourism hotbed on Nova Scotia’s South Shore markets itself.
The theatre serves as a prime example of how small and medium-sized businesses in Atlantic Canada can grow their businesses by using the Internet. Once upon a time, Bickerdike relied on traditional forms of marketing—posters, flyers, newspapers ads, and word of mouth—to get bums in the 176-seat facility.
That has changed in recent years. Bickerdike now hires two summer students, one who studies public relations and the other marketing, to work on gaining awareness of the theatre’s brand and performances via social media and the Internet. This year Bickerdike also invested in Google AdWords, an online advertising system, and a mobile app that customers can download to their phones to view the theatre’s website and buy tickets online. “Our ticket sales are up by 25 per cent,” Bickerdike says. “I’m very pleased and so is my board of directors.”
Atlantic Canadian businesses that haven’t jumped on the Internet marketing bandwagon had best make plans to do so. “It’s critical in this day and age,” Bickerdike says. “You have to be online. You have to be where people can find you.”
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