Selling Out Editors’ Picks for 2014: Customers

editors-picksCan you believe 2014 is almost over? The year has certainly flown by for us. To reflect back on it, we’ve pulled together some of our favorite posts on important topics for any live entertainment marketer. This week, we’re looking at the best ways to treat and relate to your customers, which is essential to the success of any live event. See what Jim had to say about customers in 2014 (click on any title to read more on the topic):

Remember the Fan Even Before You Forget
“In Major League Soccer, there’s a team called the New York Red Bulls. If the logo looks familiar, there’s a good reason. The team is owned by Red Bull, the makers of the heinous-tasting, but incredibly popular energy drink.

For the most part, this is a happy story, but there’s one little hitch. Before the team was the Red Bulls, it was the New York Metrostars. The minute the new corporate overlords took over, the old name and branding were “summarily discarded,” according to this nice write-up on the topic at Gothamist. In the world of pure logic in which corporations can sometimes think, this makes a lot of sense.

Here’s the hitch: In the sorry old world where we all actually live, people have things called ‘feelings’ and ‘memories.’ …”

How Much Of Your Audience Should Be “New”?
“There is a right answer to the question, and it’s this: It depends.

I was reading this really interesting summary of a study in the UK about the percentage of audiences that were “new” (hadn’t been in at least three years) and the percentage that were “regular” (had been at least six times in three years). The basic result is that venues with government funding got 57% of sales from those regulars, compared to 37% for commercial venues. By contrast, West End commercial venues got 42% of revenue from new customers, compared to just 15% for West End government-funded venues.

The article characterizes this difference as the “failure” of the government-supported venues to attract audience, but it could just as easily have characterized it as a “failure” of the commercial venues to retain audience. Both or neither of those things could be true.

OK, Jim, what the hell are you talking about?”

Which would you rather have? Photo credits: “Certified Angus Beef Burger w/ Avocado,” © 2011 Pan Pacific and “Meatloaf & ketchup,” © 2011 Daniel Oines, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Which would you rather have? Photo credits: “Certified Angus Beef Burger w/ Avocado,” © 2011 Pan Pacific and “Meatloaf & ketchup,” © 2011 Daniel Oines, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

The Wrong Side of the Convenience Gap
“Imagine it’s lunchtime and you’re at home. Now think of two things that you sometimes eat: one that you eat because it’s convenient to get or inexpensive, and one that you really, really like. One that’s fine and meets your lunchtime needs, and one that you really enjoy.

So here you are at lunchtime, in need of food, and there are these two things available to you, but the first, less fabulous thing has miraculously just arrived at your desk. All you have to do is reach out and take it. The other, far better thing is available too, but it’s waiting for you to come pick up two blocks away.

Which do you eat for lunch?

The answer of course is that sometimes you choose one and sometimes you choose the other, but why should that be?

It’s because there’s a Convenience Gap between the two things: one is better, maybe much better, but inconvenient to some degree; the other is not as good, but more convenient.

If I were trying to get you to buy the better, but less convenient thing, what would I do?”

How to Allow True Fans to Buy Tickets First
“For my friends at Ticketmaster, Tickets.com and other places where they manage on-sales, I have an idea for you: Make potential ticket buyers watch a video or recording of a band a few days ahead of time, while having their vitals monitored by some equipment. Depending on how passionately the person “feels” about the band, assign them a place in the queue to buy. Meanwhile, gather important information you can use later for marketing.

Sure, there will be some kinks to work out, but on the plus side, you can drop captchas and all the other annoying stuff you have to do right now to keep brokers and their armies of drones from buying all your tickets.

Just cut me in when you figure it out.

I’m only half-kidding.”

"An usher at the Center," © 2005 Chicago's North Shore Conventions & Visitors Burea, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

“An usher at the Center,” © 2005 Chicago’s North Shore Conventions & Visitors Burea, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

The Easy Math of Good Service
“Good service is the best marketing money you’ll ever spend.

Let’s do the math on that. (I hear you groan, “Jim, why always with the math?’)

It would be pretty normal for an organization like the ones going to #NAMPC to spend, say, $20,000 on a marketing campaign. If on average these campaigns got a positive return of 15%, you’d have to be pretty happy with that.

So, if you did all the work that’s required to create a marketing campaign with a cash cost of $20,000, and you got a 15% return, you’d make $23,000 in extra sales from that campaign.

But let’s look at something else …” 

The Ticket Business Baffles Customers
“The reality of the market place is that you’ve never needed to ‘know’ somebody less than you do today to get access to tickets. In the old days, when tickets were scarce and underpriced and there was no easy way to buy them (as there are multiple ways today), you literally might need a person with a back-door connection into an event to get them.

Today, though, it’s mostly about money and a tiny, tiny smidgeon of savvy with the internet.

Yet, for all that, consumers still frequently don’t even know where to start to find tickets.

And you can’t blame them. It’s a baffling system …”

"Kid's Zone Audience," © 2009  Rob Guettler, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

“Kid’s Zone Audience,” © 2009 Rob Guettler, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

What Does “Get ‘Em When They’re Young” Mean for Live Entertainment?
“Should a live entertainment/arts organization bother trying to ‘get ‘em young?’

Yes, but for two reasons, and a third pseudo-reason.

First, you should try to get young attendees because they’re a great, underserved audience. Take it from a guy who sells a lot of tickets to a lot of different kinds of things in a lot of different places: There are NOT ENOUGH GOOD SHOWS FOR CHILDREN. That means that if you’re even sort of good, you can do very well. As an audience today, kids are a goldmine that a lot of people just don’t want to reach because, well, I’m not sure why. Kids should be taken seriously as an audience. They don’t go to ‘crap’ because they like crap. It’s because adults, rather condescendingly, serve them up crap. Remember: Seven-year-olds started tearing through 1,000 page books when someone (JK Rowling) started writing for them. Books and movies have figured this out, but not live entertainment. Why is that? Please tell me it’s not because our industry feels it’s too ‘good’ for them.”

See part one, pricing, here and part two, marketing, here. Also, stay tuned for the rest of the month as we cover topics like technology to wrap up 2014 and ring in the new year!

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