The Most Important Marketing Questions
Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part I

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.

Each and every day, most organizations work to improve their business. They try lots of different approaches, yet more times than not they fail to achieve the results they need in order to be successful. Recently, in a conversation with a marketing director, I was asked to name the three most important reports that organizations should be running to help achieve marketing success.

When I asked why she was asking the question, she remarked that she was trying to filter out the noise of data that blasts her every day and instead focus on key factors.

Truth is, there are more than three keys or reports you can run to achieve marketing success in the performing arts. More often than not, if you focus on one simple concept then the data you are going after is very valuable to your business.

The concept is:

Attract + Retain + Upgrade = Marketing Revenue Success

Within this concept there are a lot of meaty questions. Every business must attract customers, retain them by getting them to come back, and over the long run upgrade or upsell them. It is a simple pipeline. That said, many organizations today don’t understand the underlying questions behind this simple concept. Let’s break it down.


In the performing arts if you aren’t attracting new buyers of tickets and subscriptions, you won’t be in business very long. Most arts audiences are 55 and older, so every organization must continually reach out to new potential ticket buyers as audiences age.

How many first-time single-ticket buyers did your organization attract last season?

If you think of the Attract + Retain + Upgrade concept as a pipeline, then Attract is the mouth of the pipeline. You want that mouth to be as wide as possible. One organization has a goal of attracting 15,000 new ticket buyers every season. They build strategies and implement tactics to achieve the goal and have benchmarks throughout the season to measure how they are performing.

First-time ticket buyers are the most expensive to attract. They require more time, money, and human resources. You can’t just walk out on the street and pull them into the theatre; you have to develop strategies that appeal to them. So think about your organization. How many first-time single-ticket buyers did you attract to performances and events last season?

If you don’t know the answer, you need to spend some time figuring it out. If your ticketing system can’t generate this report in two minutes or less, you have a big problem on your hands. If you do know how many first-time single-ticket buyers you’ve attracted, let’s get to the next question:

What did you do with them?

It has always amazed me that many organizations either ignore first-time ticket buyers or treat them almost with contempt. Considering that more marketing dollars are spent to attract them than any other audience segment, this treatment seems absurd. High-performing marketing departments build strategies to court first-time ticket buyers throughout their entire experience. Some things marketing departments do include:

1. Send them a special email welcoming them to the organization.
2. Provide them with special information about the theatre, parking, and dining or bars around the theatre.
3. Offer them a complimentary beverage during intermission.
4. Give them access to the patrons’ lounge and designate a marketing person to greet them.
5. Give them a backstage tour before or after the performance.
6. Ask them for feedback on their experience after the show.
7. Offer them a discount to come back and see another performance.

In each of the above actions, the organization is already proactively seeking to broaden the experience and get to know first-time ticket buyers. They are treated as special because they are special! Every first-time single-ticket buyer has the chance to become a subscriber and perhaps a donor, thereby embarking on a lifelong relationship with the organization that can generate tremendous goodwill and financial gain.

The key is having the data readily available in a software solution that will allow you to maximize the opportunity to both identify and get to know them. In Part II of this three-part series, we will talk about moving the first-time ticket buyer down the pipeline from single-ticket to multi-ticket buyer. Until then, let me leave you with a question: 

What is your conversion rate from single-ticket buyer to multi-ticket buyer?

Read Part Two Here

Kevin Patterson is a Senior Account Executive at Patron Technology. He also hosts a podcast on the arts at

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Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part I

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