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E-Mails Recipients Get a Taste of the Theater

New York — TheatreGrams.com is using an interactive rich media e-mail campaign to bring the sights and sounds of theater to prospective ticket buyers.

An incentive-based postcard mailer was sent this week to 10,000 homes. It offered the chance to win 12 pairs of tickets to shows — one pair per month — to those who register at the site. It is the company's third marketing campaign but the first to offer an incentive, co-founder Richard Robertson said.

The ticket offer is being made to entice people to register at the Web site, which Robertson and co-founder Carl Lee launched in April.

If the campaign works, recipients will log on to the Web site and register to receive rich media e-mails containing Flash 4 previews of the shows TheatreGrams.com features.

Cabaret, Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and Forbidden Broadway are being featured now.

TheatreGrams.com Flash 4 e-mail previews are filled with music, voice-overs, slide shows and moving text. Recipients can follow links in their e-mails to the TheatreGrams.com Web site and find more information about casts, plots and different theatres, Robertson said.

“We combine the best of television, direct mail and radio all into one,” he said.

Video is not included with the previews because of bandwidth issues and union complications that could arise between the company and actors or actresses.

He said consumers who receive the postcard and view the Web site will be willing to spend time dealing with rich media download time.

“It's tough to balance rich media previews against download time, but we're offering significant ticket savings to people interested in theater and interested in seeing previews,” Robertson said.

TheatreGrams.com sent the postcards to targeted prospects acquired from online ticket agent Telecharge.com and opt-in e-mail marketer Postmasterdirect.com. The company also plans to rent prospect lists from opt-in marketer Yesmail.com, Robertson said.

The postcards went to consumers who have ordered tickets three or more times.

TheatreGrams.com's targeted consumer base includes New York City area residents who are over the age of 25 and enjoy entertainment, Robertson said.

“We could have broken it down by income and education levels, but we decided not to do this,” he said.

Robertson, who used to work with a theatrical advertising agency, said the company plans to keep a tight focus.

“We don't want to review every Broadway show. We want to focus on a few and market them diligently,” he said.

“Forbidden Broadway” producer John Freedson likes this approach.

“It certainly makes me happy they aren't bombarding people with e-mail. That would seem like spamming. This is only a handful at a time,” he said.

Freedson also liked the way TheatreGrams.com presented Forbidden Broadway.

“They took the stills we gave them and put together an animated, fun and hip preview. It's quite amazing,” he said.

Ticket sales for Forbidden Broadway have been up since TheatreGrams.com went online, and Freedson said the company had a hand in this.

“It's a whole new form of marketing,” he said.

TheatreGrams.com does not sell tickets. The company earns its keep from ticket buyers who divulge a discount code specific to Theatregrams.com when placing orders.

The company can track sales from traffic at their site by tracking the discount code and is paid a commission for orders that include the code.

There is no charge for producers to list their productions on Theatregrams.com

“If we don't help sell tickets, we don't get paid,” Roberts said.

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