A friend of the pod and blog, Holly Mulcahy posted an interesting blog post yesterday called “Stay on the Couch” about finding reasons for people to actually come out and see the symphony.
While her point of view is focused on the symphony, the concept would actually be smart no matter if you are talking about sports business, theatre, concerts, and other forms of entertainment.
In her post, Holly asks a series of questions and challenges us to come up with some new answers that don’t include your support, guest artist, or great repertoire…she says that they are lazy and for amateurs. I say, Holly, you know my work?
Let’s go through Holly’s questions:
1. The parking lot is hard to get out of at the end of the concert:
- Leave your food and beverage stands open so people can have a post-show beverage or snack.
- Offer a post-show Q&A with someone in the symphony, from the organization, or someone that supports the organization that is also a person of interest.
- If the lot is far away or in a tough to get to spot, maybe you can shuttle people back and forth to the parking lot using golf carts or something else.
2. There is too much talking from the stage:
- Teach people what the talking is about and form. Educate people so that they don’t look at the talking as an interruption and instead see it as part of the experience.
- Work to shorten any talking to make it more to the point or more engaging so that people aren’t lost or turned off by it.
3. People don’t know when to clap:
- You can make educating people about what to do and how to act at the symphony a part of the excitement in the leadup to the show. You could create a series of Facebook Live posts or YouTube posts that you emailed to ticket holders or shared with your social media followers that showed proper etiquette and helps teach people how to enjoy the symphony or an event in a manner that is fun, engaging, and educational.
- You could also make some of your most ardent supporters help lead clapping at the right time and it could be an engagement opportunity that brings them closer to the organization and allows them to educate people about the traditions of your venue.
4. People forget to shut off their phones and other distractions from the audience:
- I recently went to the Jack White concert at The Anthem in DC and he used a system that locked up people’s phones during the show in packets. I found this to be pretty awesome.
- Do some creative things with signage and announcements that makes a game out of turning off your cell phones. Again, this could also be an engagement opportunity for patrons and supporters that really want to be engaged and teach about the symphony or the event and organization.
5. There are no restaurants near the hall. Or restaurants are not open after the concert:
- Maybe this is a great partnership opportunity for a local business.
- Also, this is a really great opportunity for your venue to upgrade their F&B offerings. You can partner with local vendors, breweries, distillers, vineyards, etc to create a whole theme around a show or a season and make it a part of the overall experience.
6. People don’t feel welcomed yet get asked week after week after the concert:
- I think development has to stop being in the spam business and start getting in the relationship business. You have to earn the right for someone to support your venue.
- Make service and connection everyone’s job. That way everyone feels like they are welcome and coming home when they visit your venue.
7. The orchestra looks bored:
- You have to educate people that they aren’t bored, they are concentrating.
- My question to people that brought this up would be “compared to what?”
8. The seats are cramped:
- Talk to your guests and find out what this is really bothering people. I’m betting that the seat comfort might be code for something else.
- If the seats are really cramped, find a way to relieve this by offering more chances to stretch by creating more points in the program for people to clap or find another place where you can offer an intermission.
9. Finding babysitting is rough:
- Is it possible to go to an IKEA model for certain shows where you have a play area? Or, you can partner with a local babysitting service.
- Maybe you can create more performances and opportunities that include kids and the family. There isn’t nearly enough emphasis on getting kids involved early and not having babysitting might be a great way to create ways to get kids into these performances earlier.
10. Family of four costs more than going to the movies:
- Price is almost always an objection built on value. What are you getting at the movies that you aren’t getting from the arts? Explain it not in terms of cost, but in terms of value.
- Make sure that you are conscious that you are creating price points that are accessible to everyone…even if it is only for certain shows and certain performances. Like I said with value, I think you have to educate people so that they see the value of what you are offering so that price becomes less of an objective.