How important is the person who nearly bought a ticket? US-based marketing consultant Trevor O’Donnell offers some firm but considered advice on where and how ticketed arts organisations should be placing their sales energies to ensure empty seats are kept to a minimum. Trevor is a straight talking marketing consultant who has developed marketing/sales strategies for many arts organisations including Disney, Cameron Mackintosh, Cirque du Soleil and the Music Center of Los Angeles.
We’ve talked about the last seat sold, the empty seat next to it, and how important it is to know what the person who didn’t show up and the one who did show up have in common. We in the arts talk a lot about new audiences, but we seldom take time to focus on exactly who these people are, what they’re looking for or why any of them might want to buy what we’re trying to sell. And at the same time we complain bitterly about churn – the tendency among contemporary audiences to sample our wares without becoming regular or dependable customers. Having built our institutions on audiences of loyal, stable, committed patrons, we tend to view churn as a problem that needs to be overcome and we’re reluctant to accept the fact that churn and new audiences are essentially the same thing.