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

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

In part 1 of this marketing blog series, we introduced the following concept:

Attract + Retain + Upgrade = Marketing Revenue Success

We established that this concept is a pipeline in which organizations seek to move patrons.

New patrons, first-time single-ticket buyers, are the most expensive segment to attract. 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. Although this is the optimum relationship, there are a lot of steps in between.

At the end of Part 1, we left you with a question:

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


With this question we move further down the pipeline. Once you have that first-time ticket buyer in your theatre, what do you do next? This is an area where a lot of organizations get ahead of themselves. They want to go from single-ticket buyer to subscriber-donor in one fell swoop. In the process, the organization often scares the first-time ticket buyer away by asking for too much commitment too quickly.

Let’s put the situation into a familiar context that we all have experienced to some degree. When you asked someone out on a first date, you were using the date to learn about that person, right? If the first date went well, what did you do next? Did you ask your date to marry you? Probably not, because you didn’t know the other person well enough to ask for that big of a commitment. You asked for a second date. So, if you wouldn’t jump from first date to married in your personal life, why would you let your organization adopt this as a marketing strategy?

Let’s return to the question of a single-ticket buyer conversion. Does your organization know the rate at which you convert a first-time single-ticket buyer into a multi-ticket buyer? How would you even go about measuring this conversion rate? Well, if you know how many first-time single-ticket buyers you attract each season from your ticketing system, it should be easy to run a snapshot report on ticket buyers who have purchased tickets within a certain timeframe. Again, if you can’t run this kind of report within two minutes, your ticketing system is a liability you really can’t afford.

Once you have the information, what do you do with it? Retaining ticket buyers should be the focus of every organization. However, in order to retain them, you have to commit to actually getting to know them.

In his book The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, Peter Drucker tells us that what customers value is often so complicated that the only way to understand it is to ask the customers themselves. When was the last time you asked your customers for their thoughts and actually paid attention to them?

Organizations that are successful in converting first-time single-ticket buyers take every opportunity to get to know their customers and invite them back. Successful organizations:

  • Thank customers for attending the performance
  • Ask for feedback on their experience
  • Invite them to learn more about the organization
  • Interact with them on social media
  • Offer an opportunity for customers to return with a special offer

Remember, this is a two-part process. Just sending an email with a discount code to your next show won’t achieve the best results. What does success look like? Well, for starters, calculate your conversion rate this way:

Second performance within a fixed timeframe


First-time ticket buyers

For example, the formula for an organization that has 500 first-time ticket buyers in a season with 184 returning for a second performance is:


_______________ = 36.8%


Now assess what you are currently doing to achieve that rate. Can you do better? What if you make it a goal to increase that rate by 10 percent in the following season? What does that look like in terms of incremental revenue?

Retaining ticket buyers and turning them into patrons is a process that you cannot ignore if your organization is to be both successful and sustainable. In the final installment of this series, we will take a look at the third part of the pipeline: upgrading your patrons and creating patron loyalty. Ahead of that post, here’s another question to prepare you:

What percentage of your subscriber base also includes your donors?

Read Part Three Here

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

Suggested Blog Posts

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.

One response to “The Most Important Marketing Questions
Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part II

Comments are closed.