Amare creates Stories

In collaboration with Amare - the new culture house on Spuiplein in The Hague - we've created the Stories feature, which makes it easy to place different types of media on a Peppered website in a smart, advanced way. We spoke with Mieke Beljaarts, head of marketing at Amare, about the establishment of the culture house, the marketing strategy and how the development of Stories fits into this.

An accessible culture brand

In September, the doors of the new cultural center Amare in The Hague will open. It will be home to the Zuiderstrandtheater, Nederlands Dans Theater, the Royal Conservatoire and the Residency Orchestra The Hague. The imposing building has an area of almost eight football fields and includes four halls, where the performing arts will soon be experienced. But Amare is much more than just a theatre. In addition to the various halls and performances it offers, the building also houses exhibition spaces and catering establishments. In addition, Amare is a producer of performing arts, it houses a meeting and conference centre and it has an educational role. Amare can therefore best be described as a comprehensive culture brand, where accessibility is paramount.

© Ossip van Duivenbode
The beautiful Italian-like name of the culture house can also be translated into English 'I am' and 'we are', which immediately shows what Amare stands for: a culture house of, for and throughout The Hague.

Inviting character

In the building, the accessibility of the culture brand manifests itself through a lot of public space, which gives Amare its inviting character. The thing about Amare is that, in addition to the performances in the halls, the public areas are also buzzing with (freely accessible) performances. "This is how we imagine it: in the morning there are dance lessons and classical music is played, in the afternoon there are lunchtime concerts and performances, in the evening performances by brass bands, choirs and jazz bands. While walking through, you visit exhibitions and installations", says Beljaarts.

Beljaarts adds to this: “The presence of the Royal Conservatoire will also create a completely different atmosphere and buzz. Moreover, the students of the conservatory are pre-eminently those who are interested in giving a concert in public space. I think that's going to be very interesting. The whole city is more than welcome at Amare. You can expect a programme with a large number of partners that are as diverse as The Hague itself. By doing so, we want to provide the energy of the city an even bigger stage.”

Focus on content

Outside the walls of the building, we work on expanding the culture brand through content creation. Beljaarts explains: “When I started as head of marketing at Amare a year and a half ago, I started looking around at other stages and I noticed that there was little room for storytelling, whether digital or not. With my background as a marketer and in my last position as director of digital content at vtwonen, that was exactly what I did. For me it was a 'no-brainer': if you are going to work out a brand strategy, you bring a content strategy into it. So I think the focus on content is partly due to me; I take that for granted.”

With the focus on content, part of the marketing budget goes to content creation and the team has been expanded with a content marketer and a designer. “As a theatre, you receive all content - the photos, text and links to videos of the performances - for the website. Now, however, we are becoming much more self-producing and we are going to give our own twist to the stories, for example by doing an interview ourselves", says Beljaarts.

Content as context

When creating content, the programming serves as the anchor point, for which the stories provide more context and ultimately serve it. Beljaarts explains: “For example, something can be told about an orchestra that comes to play and the content of their work, but it is also our mission to make Amare accessible to everyone. There are many unwritten rules when you visit a classical concert and that can raise questions, for example: 'Can you clap between parts and why is that or not?' Explaining the do's and don'ts during classical music concerts, therefore, forms a topic we will definitely write about. Or a ‘decision aid’ which helps you to easily make a choice from the range of concerts on offer.”

The first few months will be a search for the different formats in which the theater can place content. However, many ideas have already been devised, such as backstage videos, lectures, courses, a podcast series about dance, previews of the programming and of course the visitors are taken through the unique building. The content promises to be at least as diverse as Amare itself.

Step-by-step conversion

The content creation aims to achieve step-by-step conversion. “Actually, it doesn't make sense at all to assume that if people don't know Amare yet, they will immediately buy a ticket. Where everything on the website used to be about ticket sales, I now define conversion in a broader sense. Audience recruitment may also include, for example, getting someone to sign up for the newsletter or following us on social media. That person may go to the theater in the future, but will only buy a ticket once the threshold has been crossed", says Beljaarts.

Lower the threshold

That’s why Amare also creates its content for people who do not (yet) go to the theatre at all. “Our core business - classical music and dance - is often wrongly seen as elitist. We want to make that more accessible, so that people understand that it is not scary or elitist, or that they think 'that's not for me'. With the Stories feature we can offer more context and thus lower that threshold, in order to make a wide audience enthusiastic about Amare. In addition, just like in the Zuiderstrandtheater, we also offer many other genres, such as musicals, cabaret, spectacle and pop. For example, we got into a partnership with PAARD, with which we can also stage larger stand-up pop concerts. It should be a nice mix and in the end we’ll also have to make that clear via Stories", says Beljaarts.

The creation of Stories

To give space to the stories Amare tells, the idea arose to create the Stories feature. Beljaarts finds good examples of such stories within the cultural sector in the Rijksmuseum, but also outside of it in Elle and Binnenste Buiten. “I think having such a place for Stories and a very good webshop is the golden combination, which is what vtwonen, for example, does so well”, says Beljaarts.

That’s why Peppered is working with Amare on the development of the Stories feature, which makes it easy to place different types of media on the website in a smart way. The ultimate goal of this feature is an easily searchable platform with intuitively clickable content. This content can be tagged and searched for in all possible ways, for example on the basis of genres and authors, but also by means of related content. This way, as a visitor, you never get stuck in the content section, because there is always other content or a performance associated with it to refer to. Thus, a network of all kinds of connections is created, making the Stories inexhaustible.

Personalised content

The feature also offers opportunities for personalised content, where you have various target groups starting at different points in the Stories. With visitor tags you determine who sees which content, so that you can tailor the content to the interests of the visitor. For example, visitors with the tag 'dance lover' see your content about dance at first and continue browsing from there. Consult the manual for more information about using visitor tags.

Tell your own Stories

Want to get started on creating your own Stories? Please refer to our manual for detailed information. Got excited but don't have a Peppered website yet? Feel free to contact us and ask about the possibilities.