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🎂 11 is the Magic Number 4 Vivid Seats! Talking Tickets 7 October 2022!


Happy Birthday to the newsletter: We turn 3 today! Or, we celebrate 3 years of coming to your inbox on Fridays. 

Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting. 

I’m doing my annual bit of market research: my NPS survey:

  • 4 questions that will help me build a better newsletter, podcast, and other value for you. 
  • It will take you about 90 seconds, probably less. 
  • I’ll pick one person that fills out the form to win a free prize. 

To the Tickets!

I. The Big Story: 11 is magical: Vivid Seats! : 

Vivid Seats focuses on their brand…again!

The Big Idea: Brand building doesn’t happen overnight. 

What I like about what Vivid Seats has been doing is that they have been consistent in talking up their brand, investing in distinctive brand assets, and investing in long-term brand awareness. 

This isn’t a formula that most businesses are using right now. 

Not just in tickets, but anywhere. 

Brand is Important: You get a lot of bad brand advice if you aren’t careful. 

Your brand is important because:

  • It becomes a shortcut for purchase decisions. 
  • It can provide you pricing power and lessen price sensitivity. 
  • It can help you with customer loyalty. 
  • It can build a moat for your business in a competitive marketplace. 

Does 11 matter? Yes. It does. 

When I work with folks on branding challenges, I walk them through a 3 step framework to help keep the idea of brand management as simple as possible:

  • Who are we targeting? 
  • What is our position going to be?
  • What codes are we going to use to deliver our message consistently? 

In the case of Vivid, you can see this playing out:

  • Vivid is targeting the hardest core, most frequent users. That matters because you need to be specifically for a certain segment, knowing there is spillover into other segments. 
  • Vivid’s position in the market is pretty clear: “We are for the hardcore fans.” 
  • Vivid’s brand codes come through: their logo, the use of the dominance of different shades of blue, and the number 11. Those are all brand codes that show up in every ad, email, and message. 

You can do this as well: 

  • Figure out who your target really is. Be specific. You probably need to do a bit of research. Start with Google. 
  • Figure out your position in the market. I’m focused, effective, and profitable. Vivid is for the hardcore fans that love going to live events. What are you?
  • Know your codes: A good brand has 4-6 that include their logos. I should use my logo on the newsletter. It does show up everywhere else. Think colors like my blue or Tiffany’s blue. Think sounds like the intro to a Netflix show. Think of shapes like the shape of the Sydney Opera House or a Coke bottle. Think smells like the lobby of the Four Seasons on Brickell. 

Final Note: I’ll come back to the rewards thing at a different date. My take on rewards programs is probably slightly different than y’all would imagine. 

II. Tools: Tixly

Tix Ticketing becomes Tixly. 

The Big Ideas: Ticketing doesn’t need to be difficult. 

Give my conversation with Aren Murray a listen. 

A Few Things to Check Out:

  • Tixly is built from the ground up. This makes the software faster because it doesn’t have to get through old code. 
  • Everything is in the cloud. So you are less likely to have huge disruptions. 
  • Simplicity can help folks in tickets right now when budgets are strapped and winning folks back to your venue is the big challenge. 

III. Concepts: Brand Equity: 

Definition: The famous branding professor, David Aaker, defines brand equityas a set of assets and liabilities linked to a brand that adds value to or subtracts value from the product or service under that brand.

In Action: Angel City FC shows that Brand Equity moves positively and negatively. 

Their focus on ensuring every sponsorship deal has cash included emphasizes the importance of not discounting your brand. 

Key Ideas:

  • Put value on your brand. Don’t fall for the “promotion” trap. Stand your ground. 
  • Brand Equity can add and subtract from your brand. Be careful.

IV. Bullets: Focus on Your Brand: 

Here are 10 ways to make your brand matter more. Because if you aren’t careful, it can sound like yoga babble:

  • Come up with your definition for a brand. Mine is the accumulation of all the experiences that someone has with your business over time, good and bad. 
  • Focus on what makes you want people to know about you. Again, I’m focusing on strategy. Specifically, I’m pushing everything I can on you that will help you become more focused, effective, and profitable. 
  • Know your Brand Codes. These are symbols that you will use in all of your marketing and communications efforts. You can’t use these enough. 
  • Make sure you are focusing on the right audience. You can have a great brand that gets you nowhere because you aren’t focusing on the right people. 
  • Position yourself effectively. You need to know what you stand for. What you are not. And, communicate that at all times. Again, use me as an example: Focused! Effective! Profitable! More importantly with the new format and style, I’ve dug in on that even more to highlight how important it is that what I’m doing is for the person that has and owns the customer relationship. 
  • Gain a commitment to invest in your brand. At the top of the page, I talked about Vivid Seats. They’ve made a commitment to top of mind awareness. I don’t know what percentage of their budget is spent on building and maintaining brand awareness, but I’m guessing it is larger than most businesses I encounter. If I’m advising y’all, the data I have used in the past tells me that you need to split your spend to 60/40 long to short. That must be maintained for a minimum of three years to get the full benefit. 
  • Don’t be obsessed with “heavy buyers”. One thing that seems to hold up in every section of the market is that “light buyers” matter a tremendous amount because you never seem to have enough “heavy buyers” to reach your goals. This elevates the importance of brand building at the top of the funnel. 
  • Fight the use of price promotions. The thing that hurts your brand the most: discounts.
  • Remember, you aren’t your customer. Focus on what they value and not what you think they do value or should value. You want to have your brand speak to what the customer wants. 
  • Keep in mind the alternatives that people have in your market. And, make your brand stand out against the alternatives. It isn’t about competition in most cases, but alternatives. I did a recent research project with a team and we came back with over 100 different alternatives…before I threw up my hands and said, “You get the point.” 

V. Links:

What is “Market Orientation”?

The definition I use is getting yourself into your customer’s shoes. Mark Ritson is the professor I learned the “180” from. 

His 8 ways that you get distracted from the customer are must-reads for everyone on your team. 

BTW, you get Market Orientation through research.

Erling Haaland: Efficiency, not Effort: I’ve coached kids’ soccer for 5 years now. I’ve learned a lot. I’m fascinated by guys like Haaland that barely touch the ball but are devastating. 

Harry Kane at times is just as lethal. 

Discounts are for dummies, again and again

If you haven’t read the OG article, here it is.

My hypothesis was always that discounts destroyed your brand. In a nightclub that I helped open in St. Louis, our original sin was our Happy Hour and $1 Bud Lights, combined with bad market research that meant we could never recover our investment. 

Over the years, I’ve done research and continued to work on pricing to the point that I can say a few things that apply to tickets:

  • It is easier to lower prices than to raise them. Meaning: you can reset your prices and lower them, but raising them is really hard. I never see positive results from setting artificially low prices to get people in the door in the hopes of people “finding out the value” of attending the live event. 
  • Discounting is easy. Quitting discounting is difficult. Everyone I know has a story along the lines of: “We will just do this once.” Never happens. Once you start discounting, you almost never stop. 
  • Don’t buy the “supply and demand” is all that matters nonsense. “The free hand of the market” controlling everything is garbage. What would have to be true for the “free hand” to really work? The teams playing would have to not matter. The venue would have to not matter. The day of the week would have to not matter. Your sales and marketing teams would have to not matter. Last I looked, all of these matter. So, beware “the free hand” folks. 

Next week: a full pricing issue! Just for y’all! 

Linktree: Find everything I’m up to.

Join the ‘Talking Tickets’ Slack Group. Almost 300 people from around the world.

Booking Protect:

Customers are buying refund protection at rates 2x higher than before the pandemic.

Offering your customers refund protection:

  • Gives customers certainty in their purchase.
  • Gives you a new revenue stream.
  • Improves your customer service.

Great podcast conversations: Take your business to new heights by learning from the best in the business.

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  • Aren Murray
  • Bill Guertin
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