Pricing Is Not a Marketing Campaign

Everyone knows that pricing of tickets affects sales, and the main way this is usually observed is when prices drop, ticket sales go up.

What does this mean? Why does it work like this? Is it the equivalent of a word-of-mouth marketing campaign that gets people excited and talking about the tickets for sale?

Interest in an event only translates into action. Photo Credit: "Chicago Theatre Marquee," © 2013  Danielle Bauer, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Interest in an event only translates into action at the right price. Photo Credit: “Chicago Theatre Marquee,” © 2013 Danielle Bauer, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Not really, at least not usually. The way price usually works is more like this: There’s a potential customer who’s aware of an event. Let’s call her Alex again. For this event, which happens to be Monkey Choir, she’s got an interest in the event, but that interest is only going to translate into action at the right price. This is always true, but we’re going to put her price preferences right out in the open to see how it works.

If you ask her for $100 for this show, she’s out. No sale. No real consideration. That’s just how she feels about Monkey Choir: It’s not that she’s not interested. It’s just that she’s not interested at that price.

At $75, it’s a likely no. She’d need some other influence to kick in, like maybe more information or a friend who keeps pestering her about seeing it together.

At $50, she’s a likely yes. She may not yet be determined to see the event, but that price lines up for her.

At $25, she’s a certain yes. Definitely buying.

Let’s say that you have 100 Alexes in your base and that at $75, only 25% buy. That’s 25 buyers at $75 or $1,875 in revenue. At $50, you get 75 buyers, but they’re worth less each. Still, the total is much more at $3,750. At $25, you get all of them, but at a really low price, so the revenue is $2,500.

In this example, the “likely no” price unsells tickets, and the “certain yes” price gives away money. This is how pricing works on a given audience, and your goal is to get to that correct optimal point.

But what does it do for anyone who doesn’t know about or care about the show?

Not a thing. It’s not a marketing campaign. It’s more like a “setting” you can change that either makes the revenue and tickets sales to your current base work better or worse.

If you simply drop price below the correct point, you’ll sell more tickets, but defeat your own marketing purposes.

But let’s take a quick look at what happens when you move away from your base, to an audience, for example, that you’re reaching either with advertising or in a channel like Goldstar or others.

As a rule, these are not “Alexes.” They don’t know you, at least our research tells us that’s the case about 95% or more of the time. As a result, their opinions about Monkey Choir are different.

For them, $75 may be a “certain no,” $50 a “likely no,” $35 a “likely yes” and $15 a “certain yes.” Why? Because they’re not already bought in. Monkey Choir is riskier as a use of time and money for them than it is for those who already know how great they are. In this case, and for this audience, the $50 that works brilliantly for Alex is probably not the optimal point for them. Almost definitely not.

It’s probably more like $35, where if the channel you’re reaching into is big enough, you can do a lot of business if it makes sense to your Revenue Per Seat.

So, remember that price itself is not a marketing campaign. It’s a setting on your current base that you can (and should) tweak. Marketing campaigns, including work in channels, increase the number of  people placing a higher value on your show than they did before the campaign launched.

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