Barter Theater

Keeping The Magic of Theatre Alive During a Pandemic


As the COVID-19 pandemic threatened the performing arts industry, the partnership between Drive Social Media and Barter Theatre proved to be much more than just an opening act. Over 10 months (March 2020 to January 2021), Drive Social Media drove 4,167 ticket sales ringing in $258,810.55 of revenue for Barter Theatre. With a 5.53x overall return on their marketing investment, Barter Theatre had a first-row seat to watch how digital advertising and Drive Social Media’s strategic expertise keeps businesses growing without any intermission – even during a pandemic.






Return On Investment


The Nation’s Longest Running Professional Theatre

Barter Theatre is the nation’s longest running professional theatre and has received countless awards and accolades over the past nine decades including becoming the official State Theatre of Virginia. In 2020, while the world was thrown off balance by a pandemic, Barter had to close its doors. However, they still wanted to give people an opportunity to find amusement and enjoy the theatre, so they created Barter At The Moonlite, a drive-in live theatre experience, and Barter On Demand, a streaming service in which patrons can watch productions from the comfort of their own home, as many times as they want. Barter Theatre made their new partnership with Drive Social Media a show-stealer by pivoting their ticket sales strategy to online-only.


Driving Up Ticket Sales

With the pandemic threatening their business, Barter Theatre knew they needed to turn their marketing strategy into a digital one to increase their online ticket sales and promote their newest ventures, Barter At The Moonlite and Barter On Demand. Even through a pandemic, the magic of the theatre needed to reach people, so Drive Social Media created a strategy that would allow Barter to still fill out their plays while getting at least a three times ROI during their first year.


The Show Must Go On

As ticket sales moved fully to online platforms, we designed a strategy to drive online sales and track those customers through the entire journey. We integrated our proprietary Marketing Milk software with Barter Theatre’s customer databases, analyzed their customer base, and created custom audiences of existing patrons and potential new customers using AI and machine learning. Then, we designed a show-stopping set of campaigns that incorporated the visuals and voice of Barter Theatre into the ads shown to our curated audiences, thus converting impressions into website sessions, and then into ticket sales during a national shutdown. This resulted in a quick jumpstart to their ROI.


Receiving A Standing Ovation

From April 2020 to January 2021, Drive Social Media met its goal of 3x ROI in a year with Barter Theatre in record time, beating all expectations. Our strategy attributed 4,167 total ticket sales, which led to a 5.53x return on investment and $258,810.55 in direct revenue for the theatre. Last but not least, for every dollar spent on Facebook, Barter Theatre saw a 2,327% return on their ad spend (ROAS), but we’re not done, the final curtain hasn’t closed.

“Barter Theatre wasn’t doing any social media before, and the Google ads weren’t working. We went from not being represented on paid social/search to being able to implement a really targeted and efficient strategy, where we could easily measure the results. And we could see, with all other costs considered, our ROI was way better than expected and outperformed every other marketing channel that we’ve previously used.”

— Morgan Egan, Director of Marketing


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