A lot of people in and around tickets will be heading to Baltimore next week for the annual INTIX conference.
I’ll be one of them.
So if you are around, check me out. I’d love to meet you.
That said, looking at the program, a couple of themes are on everyone’s minds this year and several of them are in my wheelhouse, so let’s shoot off a few ideas in advance of the conference.
One of the main focuses of the program is management and customer experience, security, staff management, secondary market, and managing change.
Let’s spend a moment or two thinking about each one:
- Customer experience: This is an issue that shouldn’t be new on people’s minds, but it is one that is accelerating in importance by the moment. In years past, we could count on our customers and prospects to put our games, performances, and events in their own separate buckets to an extent. Today that doesn’t exist. Now, we are all lumped into “entertainment” and we are competing against just about everything. That means that we have to think about customer experience not as a fixed idea, but as something that is going to be constantly changing. In exchanging messages with Georgia at the Sydney Opera House, she mentioned that as quickly as they add a new amenity, feature, or experience the consumer just expects and asks, “what’s next?” In tickets, we have to constantly be asking, “what’s next?”
- Staff management: Starting out my career in really low level positions, and remembering what that was like, staff management is key. We are selling an experience and I think that the most important thing we can do is hire and manage for attitude, not for desire to work in tickets or the arts, but in their ability to be willing to work and to have a good attitude. I remember when I got my first job at the Seattle Theatre Group when I was 23, the man that hired me said that he felt I had a friendly face. Keep that in mind when you are hiring.
- Secondary market: Let’s face it, the secondary market has won! Full stop. The thing needs to be that you have to work with them. I made my reputation early on in tickets by being the person on the secondary side that was able to partner with American Express and their Centurion Card concierge to create a global supply chain for tickets on the secondary market. This was uber successful. It drove 8 figure sales annually to my business. It drove 9-10 figures to American Express and it helped the concierge company get acquired for mid-9 figures. That simply means that people want the options and flexibility to buy what they want when they want. We see that more and more everyday with Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, etc. Our job is to figure out how to make the secondary work for us.
- Managing change: Here’s the deal, the only thing you can count on is change. The challenge comes in the fact that our organizations grow and they develop a certain sclerosis that slows down their metabolism for change. The best way to manage that is to make planning for change a part of your weekly activity. You learn and adapt. Or, you don’t and you die a slow, painful death.
Technology: Quite a few topics here. Many of them about how to increase distribution or get your product in front of the consumer on the go.
The big thing with technology is to remember it is a tool.
The thing you need your technology to do is to help you achieve a strategic goal that you have set.
Allowing technology to command your decisions has the cart driving the horse.
You have to always remember that technology is a tool.
Marketing: One of my two sweet spots on the agenda.
- Customer development and retention: Every customer has a lifecycle. We have to be conscious of what actions we want our customers to take and how we move them to maturity. In talking with and working with sports teams, I tell them that the customer development process starts early and that if you don’t start it young, it gets more expensive by the day. Retention is even trickier because as we have commoditized our experiences in a lot of ways, there isn’t any differentiation going on. I think the key to winning here is to think about “customers for life” and how you can nurture that relationship from cradle to grave.
- Mobile marketing: To me, this is just marketing. I think too much emphasis is put on one single media or area at the expense of the strategic. In this place, you have to really think about what role does mobil marketing play in your overall marketing strategy. Then take action accordingly.
- Social media: I started out on social media helping a friend and some of his colleagues that were college football writers use Twitter to expand their audience. That said, I think social media is a good way to make sure that people are connected to your latest news, your latest ideas, and the things you can share that builds a connection. As far as converting sales, I think you can use social media to accelerate your sales and if you have a more mature social media practice, you can definitely send out links and offers that your audience will respond to. The challenge is balance. If you try to send out only offers, that’s not likely to work. If you never make an ask, that’s also likely to backfire. So, again, social media really has to be one of the spokes of your strategic marketing, not an end in itself.
- Email: In tickets, I think email is the most underused tool we have. People still have email, they still use email. And, you can ensure delivery of the email a lot better than you can other digital tools. I think having an engaged, consistent email list is one of the huge missed opportunities in most ticketing marketing plans.
- Packaging: There is a lot of room for creativity here. As I have been developing course, programs, and workshops this year, I have renewed my lifelong fascination with added value and perceived value. That’s packaging and I think you are really only limited by your creativity. That said, remember that discounts destroy your brand. The science behind that is absolutely clear.
Revenue: You know “The Revenue Architect” will have some ideas here, right?
- Prices: There is a philosophy that floats around that you need to maximize every touch. I don’t believe that. I think that if you maximize every touch, you likely make a lot of money on one sale or event, but you don’t get a lifetime of sales. Pricing needs to be considered in the context of the lifetime customer value that we talked about above.
- Price configuration: Pricing is an art, not a science. You can use data to help make decisions, but ultimately the way you price has to be a strategic decision.
- Revenue generation: I’m the king of incremental revenue. It is the thing I learned starting out in nightclubs at 19. Getting an extra $.25 out of a guest adds up quickly, improves the experience, and often leads to return visits. Incremental revenue is everywhere. That said, there are a lot of revenue opportunities laying around that increase the perceived value of what you are doing. Look at what Simon Mabb and Cat Spencer are doing at Booking Protect. That’s an incremental revenue stream for you, security for your customers, and an improved experience for everyone involved.
- RFPs: I hate them. They are designed to take the thinking out of the process and usually lead to results that aren’t as effective as they should be.
- Financial concepts and tools: I took accounting once. I’ve got a great partner to help you with the actual aspects of it. If I pontificate on this topic, run!
That deserves its own post. I’ll give that to you later.
If you are at INTIX, look me up.