We are always looking to learn from past experience and better understand our clients and their challenges, to ensure we offer the most comprehensive and informed digital solutions. As a result, we have decided to undertake a series of client interviews, conducted by an external market researcher, to produce interesting and insightful features that highlight best practice, industry knowledge, and promote shared learning.

The first article looks at long-term client and world class dance company Scottish Ballet.

Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet is Scotland’s national dance company. Founded by Peter Darrell and Elizabeth West as Western Theatre Ballet in Bristol in 1957, the Company moved to Glasgow in 1969 and was renamed Scottish Ballet. The touring company employs 36 full-time dancers. In June 2009, it moved to new purpose-built national headquarters at the Tramway international arts centre in Glasgow following an impressive fundraising campaign and building project.

Charlotte Gross, Scottish Ballet’s joint Head of Marketing and Communications, is responsible for developing all aspects of the company’s image to the outside world and, to this end digital marketing is now a huge part of her job.

Since starting with Scottish Ballet in 2004, Charlotte has seen digital be the catalyst to a vast shift in consumer behaviour and the organisation’s approach to marketing; “The impact of digital to the industry as a whole cannot be underestimated.

“The challenge with Scottish Ballet is that our audience ranges in age from 3 to 99” says Charlotte. “That means we have to use both online and offline techniques to communicate with our audience. For our Autumn 2012 tour, we ran an almost entirely digital campaign to reduce the environmental effect of our marketing campaign. It was a fascinating experiment and as a result we have significantly increased the percentage of digital marketing in all our campaigns.”

The audience and its needs are never far from her thoughts as she moves from one major production to the next, working out the best ways to stretch her budget and expand the company’s reach.

Another challenge facing Scottish Ballet is encouraging audiences to regularly return – many people come to the ballet as a special occasion but don’t necessarily come back for more.  Much of what Charlotte is now doing is ‘nurture’ marketing to keep in touch and build relationships with those people who have visited the ballet in the past and expressed an interest in this art form.  The biggest change she has seen in the 10 years she has been with the company is how the marketing department has  moved from only ‘selling’ to developing a ‘content strategy’.  She explains; “It’s no longer enough just to tell people about upcoming events – you have to engage with them on many different levels, providing additional information about all aspects of the Company.

“Now Scottish Ballet is on Youtube with editorial films on each production and even a series of Health and Fitness videos;  there is a lot of information about each production and we have a dedicated ‘Kids Zone’. Last year we had more than 150,000 views on our videos. That is a significant audience!

However, unlike many of its competitors Scottish Ballet manages to attract a good mix of both the more mature and younger demographics to its productions. The company does so through a combination of effective marketing communications, which optimise on a range of multimedia such as high impact photography and video, and media campaigns utilising the dancers and art director to connect with the audience.  The company’s forward-thinking approach to digital means that they recognise the value of communicating via digital channels and reaching targeted audiences with tailored content and campaigns.

All of this is designed to get Scottish Ballet closer to its audience and on the horizon there are other projects looking to maximise on the latest technologies and digital advances.

The byword at Scottish Ballet in Charlotte’s words is; “Experiment and try - digital costs are not large and even if you have a small budget you can still do things.”

If the future holds anything for Scottish Ballet it’s to stay at the cutting edge of digital, but never to lose the audience – keep in touch and keep building the relationship – whichever way customers choose to interact and communicate.

After Digital has been working with Scottish Ballet for over 3 years now, developing its digital strategy and web presence to better reflect the prestige of the company. The latest website, launched last year, has supported development of a more modern brand image and better social integration, as well as a move toward ecommerce with the new online shop.

If you're interested in more on the digital landscape of the arts & culture sector, and how to translate the challenges your organisation faces into opportunities, please get in touch with us today.