Talking Tickets 13 Nov 2020: A Distribution Rant! Ticketmaster! Holdbacks! And, More!

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Happy Friday the 13th! 

Isn’t this just what 2020 needed? A Friday the 13th? 

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the National Sports Forum’s agenda for their December event yet, here you go! There’s a marketing session on the 10th that y’all might be interested in. 

Some good conversations going on in the Slack Group this week. If you haven’t been in to check it out, take a look

Don’t forget a Happy Hour tonight at 5 PM with me, Matt, and Ken! 

To the tickets! 



1. As many countries head back into severe lockdowns, the continued damage to the live entertainment industry is worsening: (Check out friend of the newsletter, podcast, Richard Howle around 2:45:00) 

The pandemic continues. 

That’s the story of the week and the month. Around the world, people are dealing with this and everyone is in differing forms of shutdown or management of the virus. 

In the UK, they have headed back into a lockdown that is likely to last into the festive season. 

In the States, almost every state is dealing with an uncontrolled spread. 

Australia and New Zealand seem to be gaining control of the virus, but they are also islands and that gives them an advantage. 

Richard shares the pain and frustration of what we are all dealing with right now. And, by highlighting this here, I’m preaching to the choir. 

But I did want to start out the week by highlighting the idea that in the UK, the BBC is covering the pain the industry is going through, people are paying attention to the suffering that not having the arts and entertainment around brings to folks’ lives, and Richard provides some words of encouragement and solutions to help get people to the other side. 

By the same token, NIVA has rolled out a new foundation, NIVF. They are raising money to help get venues and people to the other side as well. 

This sucks for everyone. 

I saw someone post about the transferrable skills that people from sports can bring to other industries and I’d like to remind all of you that my door is open to help y’all realign your skills to position yourself in a different industry, area, or whatever. 

And, if there is a particular aspect or idea around marketing and revenue that you are trying to figure out with your team, let me know. I’ll put together a webinar or some sort of learning to help as much as possible. 

We all need to keep each other in mind and as much as possible, stick together. 

I was chatting to my friend, Cat, a few weeks back and she asked me what has gone well this year…and, I like that way of reframing things. 

For me, one of the nice things has been being able to help folks when they really need a pick me up! 

2. Ticketmaster has a plan for security in bringing fans back:

I finally got around to reading the piece and the gist of the whole thing comes down to this is a way for Ticketmaster to roll out their digital ticketing technology to eliminate resale and transfer. 

Let’s keep this one short, a lot of the Covid strategies are likely to have little or no shelflife. 

Venues won’t be able to fully reopen until there is some sort of vaccine and most people have taken it. 


Liability, fear, and economics. 

In regards to this marriage of health tech, ticket tech, and Covid strategies, everyone needs to make a buck! Everyone wants data even where they’ve proven over and over that having data means absolutely nothing because most people aren’t really using it very well. And, most of the coronavirus related strategies are going to be out the door when venues can really reopen or they are things that should have been happening beforehand like cleaning venues more thoroughly. 

So I’m going to hold off on judgment here, but I’m not going to assume that this stuff is really going to see the light of day in any substantial way. 

Or, to put it another way, definitely for the future, but don’t wed yourself to one particular direction based on the information you have right now because most of it is likely to change in its entirety. 

P.S. After I finished this up, it seems Ticketmaster is changing its stance a little bit on this idea. 

3. Holdbacks, not brokers or BOTS are to blame for ticket issues:

I’ve found a good, old-fashioned ticket story for y’all today. 

In Hawaii, a study was conducted only to find out that fans were confused by all the holdbacks, on-sales, pre-sales, and other ways of selling tickets from the primary point of purchase. 

This problem with pre-sales, on-sales, etc. comes down to marketing. 

Part of it is a problem of putting tactics before strategy in the form of not thinking through the distribution of the ticket in a way that translates out to the customer in a way that makes sense to them. 

The argument usually comes back, “What we do with our tickets is our business?”

That’s great, but you also have to recognize that the customer does play a part in this deal and that if they don’t feel like the sale is on the level, makes sense, or just can’t decipher what they are going to do…it all costs something. 

That cost is that if you make it more difficult for your customers to give you money, they will spend it somewhere else. 

Some of y’all ask me what I’ve been doing with my time during the pandemic and I will tell you that I’ve been going back to school, learning some new marketing skills, and investigating things that a lot of times get sold as absolutes like the idea that distribution is the end-all for everyone. 

Since I feel extremely strongly about the need to rethink the marketing of sports, entertainment, and live entertainment for most folks to recover from the pandemic, this idea of distribution is important.

Here’s why:

First, we need to do a much better job of understanding the optimal distribution strategy and that begins with understanding your target customer and working backward. 

This leads back into my presentation at NSF and stuff I’ve been sharing over the last few months of understanding and applying proper practices around segmentation, targeting, and positioning. 

Second, you have to understand the positives and negatives of direct and indirect distribution. 

Direct distribution gives you the most consumer data, costs you less, can be faster, and can eliminate retailers and competition. 

Indirect distribution can provide you with local knowledge, maximum distribution, and access to someone that has a core competence in a part of the retail chain that your organization doesn’t have. 

The challenge here is that for far too long, the distribution methods being offered are designed to present themselves as one-size-fits-all. 


INSEAD marketing professor, Erin Anderson, makes a great point here: There is no optimum distribution strategy. There is just one that is right for you. 

In thinking through holdbacks, marketing, and distribution, this story is a reminder that getting back to “normal” may not be the ultimate goal we are shooting for. 

4. The business of college athletics will need an overhaul when this is over:

There were a couple of stories about the state of college athletics this week and I’m going to highlight LSU because if you saw the 60 Minutes coverage of the LSUprogram, you’d see that Ed Ogeron didn’t really seem that serious about making sure his players were safe during the pandemic. 

Now they can’t play Alabama tomorrow! 

I won’t revisit the unsustainable amounts of debt many athletic departments were dealing with. 

One road to covering is to ask your boosters to bail you out which is likely to work at UNC this year since the football team is having a strong year and Mack Brown looks like he might have them building towards something, but I wouldn’t count on that for everyone. 

You can try and leverage your tickets and force folks to buy in a way that they don’t want to. 

Again, not advisable since most colleges were struggling with attendance before the pandemic. 

Or, you could modernize your business processes, focus on market orientation, and rethink your value proposition to put your business in a position where you can build a more sustainable operation. 

Risk management, contingency planning, and reserves are all things that we have seen businesses in all sectors fail at due to the pandemic. 

That’s a sunk cost. 

What I do want to see is better, more resilient business processes replace what we have been dealing with for a long time now. 

5. Georgia Tech is working to bring the arts to campus, during a pandemic:

No grand themes this week! 

But this is a good story to finish up with because it shows that you can figure out how to make things work.

And, ingenuity and getting through this is the theme. 

Georgia Tech is one of the finest science and engineering colleges in the world, it shows the power of following the science to make sure you keep folks safe during the pandemic. 

And, you’ll see the use of checklists, phases, and testing as a way to make sure that the school can offer theatre to guests and do so by tapping into ideas and folks from around the world. 

I just wanted to drop this in as the last story because it is hopeful and shows us a lot of what we can make work in a realistic manner with the right processes, the right ideas, and the right focus. 


What am I up to?

I’m off to northern Maryland tomorrow for a U11 soccer tournament…oy! The boy started at striker for the U12 team last week so…a budding Harry Kane lives at my house! 

Check me out in the marketing and advertising publication, The Drum, this week talking about what tech regulation could mean to marketers. 

Go get yourself some podcast episodes!

Booking Protect signed a new partnership agreement with Anytime Booking.

Get over to the We Will Recover website for ideas, classes, and more to help you recover!

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