4 Ways to Do Discounting Right

No. 1: Know where to avoid discounting: It’s simple, don’t discount to your house list too much.

Why is this? Because your house list is most likely made up of your full-price buyers. These are the people who are most likely to put a high value on what you do, even if they haven’t bought yet.

There’s a principle to think about, and that is the best customers should want to give you more and get more from you. Price should be the very last lever you pull with them. Instead, give them something special that only they can have for more.

If you discount, it’s best to use outside distribution channels as a first resort, because if a channel is good and doesn’t just resemble your own channel, you’ll be reaching a new audience with different characteristics.

No. 2: The best time to discount is early (and thoughtfully). Here’s what happens if you wait and discount at the last minute:

• You narrow your options on promotional tools.

• You decrease your effectiveness, because people generally need more time than one or two days.

• You miss out on the promotional and awareness value that discounting through a good channel brings you.

No. 3. Know which tickets are worth discounting: It’s easy to associate “discount” with “low price,” but they’re not necessarily the same.

Inexpensive seats make it possible for people interested in what you’re doing, but cash-constrained, to come to your show.

The mistake many marketers make is thinking the person likely to buy at a discount is the same person as the already-interested, but cash-constrained person.

They are not the same person. One is a fan who’s just happy to be in the building, and the other is a person who’s evaluating you. One is already committed; the other is “sampling” your product.

What’s the right thing to do? Offer a range of discounts from a ticket that’s very inexpensive to ones that are the best sections you’re not going to sell out. One of the benefits is “switching up.” If your offer has a $10 ticket in it, it will get people’s attention, but when they see that they can get that $100 ticket for just $50, they’ll switch up to that. You’ll sell the $50 before the $10, but the $10 ones are instrumental in getting people thinking about the event.

No. 4. Treat your discount buyers right: Make sure not to punish the people buying your discount tickets. This is done, for example, by putting them in the last row of the house when other sections are available, making them wait to be seated after the “regular” patrons have been seated or otherwise creating a little reminder that they’re getting less because they paid less.

This is an amateur move.

A discount buyer, if you’re doing it well, is a person sampling your product, someone opening her or himself up to the possibility of a long, beautiful relationship with your organization.

If you do sell a ticket at a discount, treat the buyer like every other buyer. Use their visit as a chance to draw them into your core audience. It’s the best chance you’ll ever have to impress them.

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