The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

March 30, 2013

Press ‘play’

Orangehaus Records marketing campaign has more fun, less ads

ANDERSON, Ind. — Students at Anderson University are on the hunt — for statues, for signs and for Cafe Ole.

One by one they converge, smiling and throwing up peace signs as they snap photos of themselves standing beside their mutual target.

“We wanted to create something fun, something college students would want to do,” said Kurtis Dickerson, Senior Vice President of Business Affairs at Orangehaus Records student recording label, which unleashed the scavenger hunt-style game on AU’s campus this school year. “The response has been great. They (students) are really into it.”

Every week, the record label sends out a picture of a target location via its Twitter handle, @OH_TheHunt. Students who respond with a photo of themselves at that location are entered to win prizes, such as a gift card for Orange Leaf frozen yogurt, coffee or a dinner for two.

There’s no purchase necessary, no fine print and no catch, said Vice President of Production Jordan Poortenga.

“We don’t even say it’s related to Orangehaus,” said Poortenga, who along with Dickerson, studies marketing with a focus in music business.

“It’s still Orangehaus-free,” he said. “I don’t think most students even know we’re involved.”

There aren’t any advertisements or product plugs yet, but somewhere down the road, it could prove a vital marketing tool. They could mix links to new song downloads and promo upcoming concerts in their Twitter feed, in between ones marking scavenger hunt locations and prize winners.

“It (marketing) is hard, especially with music,” Dickerson said. “People resent being sold something.” So even when and if they start self-promoting, they’ll keep it light: More fun, less ads.

In the meantime, they’ll just play the game — and learn from their fellow players.

Big data, bigger results

Who’s logging on? When? Where? Don’t think Orangehaus isn’t paying attention.

All those seemingly irrelevant little bits of information give the Orangehaus crew a snapshot of its target audience. It’s called ‘big data’ — a virtual treasure trove of information, that helps businesses tailor their product lines and marketing campaigns.

“In the past, Orangehaus could only use data from album sales and number of fans at live shows to determine the success of a marketing strategy,” said Dr. Rebecca Chappell, AU Director of Music Business Studies. “Today, the record label takes advantage of data from social media, digital downloads, Google Analytics, etc. to determine whether or not a marketing strategy is really working.”

That data drives just about everything that comes out of @OH_TheHunt: They launch their tweets during Chapel lectures, when student Twitter accounts light up with retweets and “#AUChapel” hashtags. They choose target locations and prizes based on which have drawn the biggest responses in the past.

“We’re trying different tactics and just accumulate data,” Dickerson said. “We see what works. We end up getting more results, more quickly.”

The long haul

It can also help guide future Orangehaus classes, which have a record of trying the same things over and over and expecting new results.

“One of the problems with student organizations is the high turnover rate, mostly because people graduate and leave (AU),” Poortenga said. The problem arises when students don’t pass on what they’ve learned to the classes that follow.

This year, they’re breaking that chain, and keeping records so future classes have a head start, he said. There are no new projects without putting goals, plans and results on paper.

While they’ve been working to boost Orangehaus’ public image and diversify and market its product holdings, keeping records is a step toward the last piece of the puzzle: sustainability.

After all, Orangehaus isn’t just a class — it’s a business, and it operates off the profit it makes. Using market data to boost those profits now and in the future means they can offer more student musicians a chance to record.

“We’re all about empowering independent artists,” Dickerson said.

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook, @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter or call 648-4250.

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