The Wrong Side of the Convenience Gap

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.

I’m going to ask you a question, and I’d like you to be honest with me about the answer. (Especially since you don’t actually have to say anything.)

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.

Got those in your mind?

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? We’ve already acknowledge that you really prefer the thing that’s waiting two blocks away.

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? I definitely wouldn’t close the sidewalk and make you go an extra block to get there or put a security guard at the door to check your ID before being allowed to come in. That would be crazy.

Live entertainment IS that much better, but less convenient lunch. Other forms of entertainment are more convenient, many of them literally at consumers’ fingertips, just like the not-so-great lunch that’s right on your desk.

So it’s important for people marketing live entertainment to be aware of being on the wrong side of this convenience gap and being very, very hesitant to increase it. Even things like capchas, though perhaps justifiable, increase the already high friction between the buyer and our product.

We in the business tend to forget that showing up in a specific time and place that’s far from home or work is a huge cost to a buyer, and although it can’t be eliminated, it can be eased and acknowledged.

The next time you say “thanks for coming out to the show,” think about what that really means and how important that sentiment is.

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