Interactions vs. Transactions:
Treating Your Patrons as More Than Revenue
Today’s guest blog post is written by John Kollmer, Client Success Manager here at Patron Technology.
What if I told you that technology has warped our minds? No, I’m not talking about the Matrix or Skynet; I’m talking about ticketing systems. For decades we’ve been using ticketing systems that collect useful metrics on sales transactions. We can see sales trends, plot the most high-value days, and gather a plethora of other data points.
The problem is, none of that information alone can help you reach new patrons or even keep the ones you have now. If any business (and most especially any arts organization) is to succeed today, you must begin to treat your patrons as people who have emotions, desires, and ultimately, choices.
As you plot the future of your organization, it’s less important to know how much money you made on one show, when your box office was busiest, or how many seats sold for full price. All of that inside baseball stuff means little to your patrons because their involvement with your organization is not solely about money; it’s about their emotional investment in the success of your company. Your patrons support your organization because they like what you are producing, and that level of emotional support can’t be nurtured by tracking sales goals alone.
I have a friend who runs a theatre company who once said to me, “I don’t see any reason why I need to keep more than two years of data.” I thought, sure, if all you are collecting is transactional data, that makes sense. If, however, you’re looking to have a lasting impact on your patrons and encourage their support of your organization, you must know more. Patrons are fully aware of how long they’ve been subscribing or donating, and they expect you to know the same. Altruism is a funny thing, isn’t it?
The growing push within the arts marketing field to use CRM systems to collect vital information on patron interactions is happening for a reason. Thousands of organizations all over the country are looking to grab every dollar they can from the limited pool of potential patrons. In this kind of saturated environment it takes more than a simple 10 percent discount to entice a patron to spend money with you instead of with Joe’s Symphony down the street.
You need to make the patrons aware that you know who they are and why they come to your organization for their entertainment. That kind of information doesn’t come from charting sales trends; it comes from knowing your patrons on a deeper level. With the use of a proper CRM system you can collect all kinds of useful information on your patrons and use that data to further engage them in the process of creating the art that they want to see.
If you’ve read any of my other posts (one on segment marketing and another on Data Management), you’ll see a trend in my topics: Patrons are people. People are finicky, but at the end of the day they like to feel good. Small gestures, such as your staff knowing a patron’s name when they scan a ticket, can go a long way toward making a patron feel good — and when your patrons feel good, they’ll remember that feeling and come back to your next show.
You know what happens next? You get to track your sales trends too and watch as they continue climbing in the direction you want — and that should make you feel good.