Unveiling the secrets of MCT’s marketing approach

I love working with not-for-profits. After working in corporate settings and freelancing over the years, I’ve found that I really just love not-for-profits. It’s partly because of my millennial drive to make a difference in the world and partly because of the passion that everyone has when working with a non-profit.

Every single non-profit I’ve worked with has been filled to the brim with talented people who have a singular drive to make the world a better place through the work they do. It’s so inspiring to be around such great people. Plus, as a marketer, it’s a great source of incredible stories to tell.

I’m getting ahead of myself though.

Marketing as storytelling

Let’s start from the beginning and talk through how I got here. Let’s start with something simple: I love good stories. I used to be that kid that would stay up late at night with a flashlight under the covers reading when I should have been sleeping. Humanity is based on the art of storytelling, and the idea that I could tell stories is the reason I am who I am. It’s the reason I did so well in history and language arts classes in school; the reason I pursued careers like photography and marketing; the reason that I love the arts… In all of those things, I could find and tell good stories.

And that’s what marketing for not-for-profits is at its core: storytelling.

Just think about the last ad you saw, you can probably break down the basic components of its story: there’s a character, who faces some obstacle or goes on an adventure, and then ends by learning that the product or service they used helped them achieve some sort of satisfying ending.

Some marketing campaigns focus on the thrill of an adventure, like the 2020 commercial for the new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, called “Born to Adventure”. Others crack hilarious jokes, like when Alexa lost her voice last year. Then there are the organizations that tackle big issues through their ads, like Dove’s campaigns to redefine beauty. But they are all based on storytelling.

So, when I think about marketing for MCT, I have to stop and think: what is MCT’s story?

The story behind your Theatre with Heart

Are you ready to learn the secrets of marketing MCT? It starts with a document that looks like this:

A screenshot of Kelby's notes on the marketing story for MCT's 20th season this year.
A screenshot of Kelby’s notes on the marketing story for MCT’s 20th season this year.

Now, this is far from comprehensive (I can’t give away all of my secrets, you know). But, you can see how influential storytelling is in our marketing, especially for our 20th season this year. And those notes, hastily scribbled on my iPad, turn into this:

A screenshot of a 2023 MCT marketing document detailing the story approach for the year's marketing campaigns.
A screenshot of a 2023 MCT marketing document detailing the story approach for the year’s marketing campaigns.

At the center of our story this year is a simple message: 20 seasons strong. We’re an underdog community theatre in a small, rural town that has beaten the odds and transformed itself into a community staple. We’re so proud to be here, but we know it’s only possible because of our community.

That’s our story: a community of theatre lovers who have banded together to do the impossible and be here 20 years later, due to the heart and passion of everyone involved. It’s what makes us your Theatre with Heart.

So, now you know my secret of how I market MCT (and really my secret to marketing in general). You just need to find good stories. Oh, and then tell them, that’s kind of important.

As I wrap this up, I encourage you to think of your own stories at MCT, whether as a cast/crew member, a volunteer, an audience member… Each of us has a story, and I’d love to hear it someday.

-Kelby Lorenz,
MCT Marketing Director

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