Corporate Buyers Selling Tickets On The Secondary Market Is A Lesson On Value and Pricing!

4. Corporate buyers are selling their tickets on the secondary market:

Allow me to say to the folks that said, “Oh, no man, you are wrong?” 

I was right! I was always right! I’m still right! 

Now that I’m done saying, “I told you so” let’s get back to business here. 

This story along with the announcement from the CMA that indicates that the StubHub/Viagogo merger is moving closer points us to the Marketing Mix. 

A few things on the marketing mix. If someone tries to BS you and tell you that the 4 Ps don’t matter anymore, run, put your checkbook back in your pocket until you can get me on the phone. 

You don’t have to update the 4 Ps, they’ve worked just fine for over 100 years:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

And, don’t touch this stuff without a strategy in place. Strategy before tactics. 

The lessons we can learn here are pretty important. 

Product: I’ve been telling you this for years now. The corporate customers are fed up with the amount of tickets they are eating and they are looking to get out from under their purchases because they don’t see the value. 

A quick refresh on the product and its three layers:

  • The actual product
  • The core value
  • The augmented product

This matters because in too many instances it is, “Look, here’s the ticket, here’s your seat, and…would you like some food?” 

Sure the seats might be slightly nicer and you’d have some nibbling around the edge type benefits, but you’d never really dig deep on what the customer needs. 

Customers want value and they want a holistic solution. If it’s about tickets and beer, they can go to the secondary market. 

As the article at the top shows, they know how to go there already. 

Price: Another thing that has come out of my conversations with corporate buyers is the frustration that they feel like they have to train the team’s salespeople to sell to them, they have to buy a lot of tickets that they don’t really need, and they aren’t getting the value they need. 

So, they look at me and say, “Why are we also paying out the nose for this privilege?”

I’ve got some ideas on pricing. But from the number of empty seats before the pandemic, it is pretty clear that somewhere the value proposition between fan and live game was broken a lot of the time…and that starts with the price since the price is the point where value, the team, and the customer come together. 

You probably need to know about the pricing thermometer if you don’t already. This was created by some smart folks at Harvard, but it is pretty easy to illustrate on a notecard. 

If you can’t read my scratch, the three things to know here are:

  • COGS (Cost of Goods and Services)
  • True Economic Value
  • Perceived Value

Most pricing is done by sticking your finger in the air and seeing which way the wind blows. This is what drives people to spend so much energy and time trying to tell me that discounts don’t kill your brand. 

(Again, top B schools teach my stuff on discounts! I’m right! Discounts destroy!) (Also, having had people email me and tell me their professors are teaching my articles on discounting…I’m insufferable now!?) 

Anyway, back to pricing.

Pricing needs to be done better. 

Russ Stanley talked about not raising prices during a pandemic when he chatted with Tisha Thompson. A lot of folks aren’t heeding his advice and are just rolling on like nothing has changed. 

That’s two different theories of pricing on display. 

I’ve got another way. 

Here are three things to remember about pricing:

  • Pricing requires research.
  • Pricing is the most important marketing decision you might make. 
  • Don’t discount. Set the right price from the start. 

Place: This is what a lot of the secondary market talk is all about, the means of distribution. 

Keep in mind, there is no right distribution system. There is only the distribution model that is right for your product or service. 

The companies selling their tickets are taking advantage of the leverage that the secondary market gives them to recoup some of their spending. But let’s be realistic here, this is the first move, not the last one. 

For y’all, you have to make the decision about direct and indirect distribution, sure. Every country and ticket ecosystem makes those decisions. And, the reality is that for many organizations making the decision to allow some form of indirect distribution makes a ton of sense because selling tickets isn’t always a core competency. 

The key is we have to make a conscious decision to get our tickets in the right place at the right time. And, just having a “ticket free for all” where your tickets show up everywhere all the time may not be the right answer. 

Distribution needs to be thought about consciously. 

Promotion: Too many marketers have allowed themselves to become the coloring-in department. 

Obviously, that ain’t my game. 

I believe marketing is one of the two most important things any business does. 

I’m going quick overview on the 4 Ps here, but this promotion idea could get its own webinar, training day, and novel because it is really the way that the tickets are showing up in the market. 

To keep this simple, I’m going to talk about sales and how the boiler room mentality is destroying the value of tickets. 

Your sales team is a way to promote your products and services. 

This often means that sales and marketing stand in opposition to each other because marketing is working to maximize profit and sales is working to maximize revenue. They aren’t the same thing. 

Revenue is what you bring in. Profit is what you keep. 

It is a distinction that people say they know but still seems to jam people up. 

Marketing is talking to the customer, understanding the value, and recognizing that not every customer is a good customer. 

Sales get the deals across the line and without the proper incentives that will come at the cost of brand value, profit, or bringing on the wrong customers. 

This is why the sales and promotions efforts have to be led by marketing so that the value is retained, promoted, and captured. Sales, advertising, and promotions support that, but they do not drive it. 

This was a big one, but what does it mean? 

A few quick ones: 

  • Strategy before tactics. 
  • The 4 Ps still matter and help you make sure you aren’t missing something. 
  • Price is the most important marketing decision you might make. 
  • Don’t let the tactics drive the strategy. 

I knew some version of this corporate buyer story was coming. The challenge is that in too many cases, the belligerence of bad ideas means that no one can admit there is a challenge that needs to be tackled or that everything isn’t puppies and rainbows. 

My ALSD column this month will probably go live today and it is about the actions you can take to turn around the sales conversations with corporate buyers. But the first step is admitting that you aren’t your customer and getting out into the world to understand what they need and value because selling excess inventory on the secondary market isn’t an end, only a beginning. 

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