“Technology” and “Distribution” and Other BS That Passes For Innovation

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I read a piece in Ticketing Business News this morning about StubHub partnering with World Boxing Super Series to sell tickets in Europe.

Which, my first reaction is, AWESOME!

This is exactly what should be happening because for the love of god too many venues, sports, and teams could use the boost of better distribution of their tickets.

But later on, I got to thinking about the so called “expertise” of StubHub and some of the other organizations that are taking up the primary slack in the secondary and ticket markets right now.

And, I came away with the overarching idea that despite the beauty of their ability to corner a market and distribute tickets effectively, the big challenge that they aren’t addressing is one of demand because more and more the problems that the ticketing industry faces isn’t one of distribution or, even, technology.

But more and more the challenge is demand.

Which means that the idea that “technology” or “distribution” is going to solve so many problems in tickets and entertainment as is often sold is going to solve the problems of the industry is entirely BS.

Because anything that doesn’t focus on building and keeping customers is all bogus and a bunch of buzz word fueled garbage that is meant to create an aura of mystery around whatever it is that is going on and divert attention from the fact that most of the venues and events that are being produced are less and less full each year.

Here’s a quick primer to other BS that is sold as analysis or justification:

“Millennial buyers have changed” 

This is the latest in lines of BS that are meant to elicit some sympathy or some sort of knowing head bob. But the truth is that the fact that millennials are buying or consuming things differently now is not some new epiphany, it is just a sign of poor marketing and selling on the part of the leagues, teams, performers, and promotors over a long stretch of time.

If you look at a legacy act like Pearl Jam, during their 2016 tour of the US and Canada, they sold over 300,000 tickets to about 22 shows. That’s pretty impressive.

And, its easy to say something along the lines that they have been around for 25 years and sold millions of records, so of course they have a big audience.

That would be missing the point entirely though.

Because if you go back to the start of their careers, you would see that Pearl Jam didn’t start out playing huge arenas and baseball stadiums. They started out playing 100 person stages that felt like they might fall down around the band and crowd.

They built an audience through touring, their fan club, and experiences.

These are tools that are available to anyone.

The problem for most of today’s events is that this hard work of audience building, storytelling, and community isn’t undertaken or is neglected.

Then, when we do get consumers into our venues, the experience doesn’t keep up. We sell our souls to Budweiser, garbage stadium food, and indifferent staff.

In an environment where more and more people are spending money on experiences.

That’s a missed opportunity because we are punting our competitive advantage out of sheer laziness.

The challenge is: the results don’t always come quickly and in our quick buck mentality business environment, we are likely to not see the stamina necessary to ensure success.

Its all about digital activation:

Some form of the digital argument comes out pretty quickly in any sports and entertainment discussion. Must be because so much of what we do for our work happens online or on our phones.

Which logic would offer means that digital activations are absolutely the key to success or something.

What I am taking aim at is this myth that digital marketing or digital activation is somehow different than “marketing” or “activation” in general.

That’s just not true.

Marketing is marketing in whatever form the message is sent out and an activation is an activation.

In theory, good marketing should include key aspects of all relevant technologies, the same as a good activation.

Which really just means that instead of focusing on the tools and the mediums, we need to focus on the content and the outcomes.

Just need more phone calls, hustle, etc. 

I remember the days when I had 3 jobs when I first moved to Seattle, I was the bar manager at a major restaurant company, I was raising money and doing events at a museum, and was leading customer service for one of Seattle’s most important theatre companies.

Why do I say this?

Because I have nothing against hustling, busting ass, or any other term you use for working hard.

But the lesson I also learned was that you can work both smart and hard.

In too many instances, hustle, call volume, or some other metric is used to signify performance or effort.

Which is just stupid.

While living in DC, I see that we probably need more hard work than ever before, the thing we really need more than anything else is more smart work.

Seth Godin wrote a manifesto about the US education system called Stop Stealing Dreams and the point of the manifesto is that the way we teach kids in the States is that we teach them to comply.

It is this same sort of idea at the core of hustling, phone calls, whatever.

If you just do this, you will be successful.

That world doesn’t exist in the same way any longer.

Instead of worrying about brute force, look at the impact you are trying to achieve.

What is the outcome?

What’s the result?

Let these things point you in the right direction because if you focus on just achieving vanity work metrics, you are going to be less than successful.


I’m sure that I could dig into these things much more, but these are 3 of the big ones.

What say you on the topic?


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