Everything Is Marketing

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’Tis the season to summarize 2013 and predict the future. And this year, my summary is pretty simple. Technology now serves a new master: the customer. It’s helping companies of all types and sizes (especially small ones) build the kinds of direct and personal relationships that marketers have dreamed about for decades. This is the essence of marketing, and the essence of CRM.

For those of you who produce live events, here are a few examples of what I mean:

  • The night before your next show, send an email to all first-time ticket buyers welcoming them and inviting them to meet a board member in the lobby.
  • When you’re in the theatre, view a report on your iPhone to know where major donors are sitting.
  • Get a notification as major donors arrive and scan their tickets, so you can greet each one personally.
  • The next morning, email ticket buyers who attended; include a trackable offer for your next show. Follow that up three days later with a message to only the non-openers. Track responses and ROI as they happen.
  • Track social posts and conversations about your organization within all social networks (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, Pinterest, and Twitter) and prioritize the people you respond to by how much influence they have (based on their number of followers).
  • Standing in your lobby, access your entire customer database from your mobile phone, and review your patrons’ donor history and most recent emails. Create a task for a co-worker to follow up with a patron next week.

As you can see, by having a single cloud-based CRM system, you can interact with customers more effectively, send them more targeted communications, and create an ongoing record of all your interactions with them in one place. And with the rise of mobile devices, you can do all of this on a mobile phone, iPad, or your computer at the office.

At Patron Technology, we saw this transformational potential of CRM early — nearly four years ago — when I wrote this blog post introducing CRM to the arts industry. As we reach the end of 2013, I’m grateful that so many of you see the value in this approach. Our PatronManager CRM system now serves more than 400 organizations that are using the power of CRM to build better customer relationships. Though nobody tracks the growth of companies like ours, I believe that PatronManager must be the fastest-growing system in the arts.

And the reason is that all we are doing is borrowing and translating what’s already been working in the corporate world. I’ve just returned from a week during which I spoke at the biggest tech conference in country — Dreamforce, which is Salesforce.com’s mega-event that drew more than 130,000 people to San Francisco. This conference used to take place mostly for developers who talked with one another about servers and code, automation and data storage. But the really exciting innovations I saw were not as much technical as they were marketing-related: new apps designed to help companies connect with customers, target them more effectively, and build relationships with them to help establish loyalty. What you are trying to do in your non-profit is the same thing that Whole Foods, Toyota, and even GE are trying to do today.

The conference was filled with marketers just like you who are anxious to cement their relationships with customers, reduce churn, and improve their marketing results. The CEO of Whole Foods commented that he sees social media as a way to fill in the gaps between the time someone leaves their store and comes back. So, let’s say you know someone is a first-time buyer at your specialty store who buys some balsamic vinegar. You send this customer an email with an offer for olive oil to motivate a second visit. Isn’t that the same logic that we use in the arts to motivate a first-time ticket buyer to come a second time? As you can see, this is not about IT; it’s about how IT powers marketing — and it’s great to see the arts industry adopt this approach.

As the new year approaches, I believe more than ever that all arts organizations must have an integrated CRM system as the backbone of their operation. Ticket sales and donations are now the byproducts of effective marketing and customer relationships. Next year will be all about this — cloud-computing CRM systems working for YOU the marketer or the fundraiser, to help YOU and your box office and development staff get better results.

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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.