More Ticket Revenue

I’ve been having a bunch of candid conversations with people who are trying to sell more tickets or get more attendance at things. I’ve gained a lot of insight on what’s working and what’s not working in this new post-COVID, pre-AI world. The basic thing is that people are more picky about doing only the stuff they want, so when we pursue marketing, we gotta do it super effectively.

Here’s a thing a lot of people selling tickets don’t think about: lifetime value of a customer… For HP, the initial value of a customer might be $20 for a printer, then that customer buys lots of ink. When the printer breaks after two years, the customer probably wants to stick with the familiar so will buy another printer and more ink.  This means that if it costs HP $20 to get one customer, they’ll still make a great profit over the customer’s lifetime. The printer may cost more to advertise, produce and distribute than it sells for. This is called a “loss leader”

When I started doing ticketed shows, I was thinking I would make the ticket price from each customer. I think my first show a couple decades ago, I was charging $10 / ticket. So, I wanted to spend $0 on advertising / marketing. I needed that $10 for buying a karate vest or whatever.

After selling lots of tickets with very DIY marketing, I started thinking in lifetime value and suddenly had more money to spend AND I sold more tickets.

Here are some thoughts on improving the lifetime value of a customer for our ticketed shows…

Motivate group sales. Some people want to buy more tickets. There are people who buy tickets for a group of friends, then sell them to their friends. There are people that bring families. Even someone on a date has a higher value than a solo person. Set up stuff that encourages this.

Sell again. Many people will watch the same show twice if there’s a chance to. This baffles me and I’ve seen it over and over.

Merch. Turn your performance into a merch selling machine. Make sure the merch amplifies the core value of the show.

Sell different. If we’re doing a new show every year or every 3 months or whatever and it’s made for the same people, we can stay in touch with them. Keep serving them. Then, give them the opportunity to experience our new show.

Make them evangelists. Things go viral for very clear reasons. Predicting the level of virality is difficult. Understanding the core of it is pretty easy.

Get them to breed. If we can just get them in committed and fertile relationships, we can … ah, skip this one. That will take too long.

Increase buy-in. If we can make the customer experience something special that they feel committed to, they will be willing to invest more.

Find new ways to serve. Our ideal customer is probably someone we like. We can think about who they are, what they need and what do they come to us for. Then we can find new ways to serve them. These might seem like complete left-field ideas and they might be just the right-thing.

Raise ticket prices. Many people are doing low and discounted tickets as a way to incentivize purchase. These incentives are crappy because you save me $50 on a ticket, I still need to take 3 hours out of my night, I have to get a babysitter and pay for parking, and take a risk on a show that’s not good enough to charge full price… It’s probably not worth the cash savings. Especially because the competition’s often open to the same compromise. Instead, we need to create and communicate more value.

Sell again and again… sometimes the core value of what we do stays the same or increases on repeat visitation. A bowling alley keeps the same lanes and the same balls and the same chemical filled shoes and it gets better the second time we go. I’m not going bowling so that I’m surprised by the balls. I’m going for the social experience and to feel like I can do some athletic ability. My show Boobietrap got better each time people came because they would get more in on the joke. they would get to know the performers and feel part of the community. They would get more comfortable in the pretty uncomfortable situation. They would always see new details in the show that they missed before.

I hope you are able to amplify the lifetime value of your customers so that you can make more money, get more attention, and share more of the awesome that you do.

Written for folks who want to attract and energize groups

Scot Nery is an emcee who has helped some of the biggest companies in the world achieve entertainment success. He's on an infinite misson to figure out what draws people in and engages them with powerful moments.

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