Coffee & Donuts To Start Your Day? Try Pie (Charts) Instead.

Quick question for you. When you get to work, what is the first thing you do? If it’s to check your email, you’re not alone. The majority of business and organizational leaders look at their inbox before they do anything else, which isn’t always the most productive way to start your day according to Forbes.

I’m here to suggest an alternative if the “don’t check your email first thing” advice isn’t realistic for you.

Instead, make a dashboard of your business – it’s a better way to kick off your day.

Think about it. How can you make time to be an effective leader if you are consumed with your own inbox?

Here are some tips to help you become a more effective leader — one who considers the success of his or her organization over what happens to be piling up in the inbox:


If your organization isn’t measuring success based on a handful of key performance indicators (KPI), stop what you are doing and work to define them immediately. I won’t spend time focusing on organizational KPIs, as I’m sure your Board of Directors and executive leadership have this covered.

As you go down a level in your organization, however, things may get a bit murky.

Each department within your organization should govern their teams with a set of KPIs. For example, sales, marketing, operations and the box office should all have a set of KPIs that are known and understood by all members of the team.

These are some sales and marketing KPIs that you may be familiar with:

    • Total sales – how much are you selling across all products and all channels?
    • Average order value – are you working to improve or present your offerings so event goers are spending more money per order?
    • Revenue per attendee – are event goers spending more money over time?
    • Total attendance – are your venues filling up?
    • Unsold inventory value – what is the overall value of unsold, and now expired, inventory?
    • New customers – how many new customers are you bringing in?
    • Repeat customers – is your organization retaining existing customers?

While other groups, like fundraising, may use a different set of KPIs, identifying the right goals for each department in your organization is critical.  Meeting and reviewing these metrics regularly to ensure alignment with your organizational goals is also essential.


Once you have settled on KPIs to measure and track, you must work with your team to introduce the most critical element: forecasting. This will give you the best possible chance to impact the outcome of your initial plan.

Consider this: if your marketing director is forecasting ticket sales revenue and predicts a huge gap compared to your budget, you’ll have time to get proactive and do something about it.

If there is no forecast for ticket sales revenue, then everything just plays out.  This is similar to just crossing your fingers.

Alternatively, if your marketing director forecasts a huge increase in ticket sales, you can increase staff to prepare for a bigger audience, reduce discounted group sales inventory or invest in something to help make that event even better.

Forecasting is an art, but it’s one of the most important tools you can give to your organization.


While this may sound great, you can’t be chasing down metrics and sales numbers all the time. Instead, find a way to effectively centralize your KPIs so your team can focus on the art of forecasting. Just as you invest in other areas of your business, this is one area you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Before you invest, however, determine what the KPIs are for your organization. Having a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish as an organization will make an audit of your current technology solutions a much easier and more exciting process.

So the next time you fire up your laptop in the morning or check your phone on the way to work, think about where your time is best spent and how you are going to make that a reality. You’ll be glad that you are focused on the right things for your business.

10 Ways to Increase Operational Efficiency in College Athletics

1. A single, integrated system keeps the entire external team in the know.
 Collaborate with colleagues in other departments on shared campaigns, like season ticket renewals, promotional packages and fundraising campaigns without adding work to your plate.

2. Make the right offer to the right fan at the right time. With all customer information stored in one spot and not pulling from multiple databases, be relevant and mindful with your outbound communications.

3. Easily access ticketing and fan data from the road. Access any information you want and make all the changes you need from anywhere on any device.

4. Automate customer service campaigns. Create smart customer service communications once that send every day. Remind those who need to renew and thank those who have. Thank people for coming or remind fans their kids club is about to expire.

5. Automate reporting. Create custom reporting packages for your external team that distribute daily, weekly, monthly or however you choose.

6. Sleep soundly through price changes. Schedule seats to increase from $50 to $60 at midnight or any other time. AudienceView makes the change automatically.

7. Don’t let anyone slow you down. Manage fees, price changes, e commerce sales features and venue maps yourself.

8. Create flexible payment plans. Credit cards setup for scheduled payment plans are charged automatically and you are notified of failed payments.

9. Sell it together and you’ll sell more. Sell parking, experiences, concessions vouchers or a kids club with a ticket in the same transaction. Let your marketing team add recommendations or upsell opportunities during the fan’s purchase journey.

10. Help your colleagues in marketing and outbound sales. Say goodbye to paper forms, Excel worksheets and fan info written on scraps of paper. By entering new fan data directly into AudienceView, leads are never lost.

Finding the Sweet Spot When Asking for Donations

When the athletics box office and Performing Arts Center box office at Cal Poly consolidated into a single location, Ryan Gruss was faced with an interesting opportunity.

His work on the performing arts side saw Ryan bring in donations at an average of $50, thanks mostly to a pop-up that asked buyers if they wanted to support the youth arts program. As a result of people knowing where their donations were going, Ryan was able to secure roughly $10,000 in fundraising that year. But when he looked at the way the Athletics donations were set up at Cal Poly, Ryan noticed that this department didn’t have the same sort of success.

“When we took over athletics they had the recommended donation set at $50,” says Ryan, “which I felt was a little high for a regular ticket buyer that didn’t have a personal history with the Athletics program.” Ryan changed set the donation pop-up ask at $10, which he learned people were much more receptive to. But by looking at the data the Athletics department had been collecting, Ryan noticed that there was some potential extra revenue to be earned.

“I thought that the soccer program we were running could ask for a slightly higher rate since it’s targeting alumni. We changed the recommended donation to $50 since those participants are not only alumni, but they’re more likely to donate because they’ve gone through the soccer program. They’re part of it, and they feel ownership of it in some way.”

Ryan figured out how to ask for donations in a way that appeals to people’s interests instead of applying a blanket technique. By adjusting your fundraising pop-up messages to reflect your audience, you’re better equipped to catch them in stride at the right time of their life stage. Students may not be flush enough with cash to relinquish $50, but they might be if they know that the money is going to a youth arts program. Similarly, alumni who feel a sense of ownership towards a program might feel an obligation to give back.


  • With multiple personas there’s no such thing as a singular solution
  • Cater to specific audiences by appealing to their values
  • Recognize when something isn’t working and pivot
  • Look within and across industries to see what works

Ryan’s experience in the performing arts box office allowed him to get a wider perspective on donations, but the ways you can use the data you get along with the donation can be just as useful as the money. Scot Allan at Gateway Playhouse noted that his performing arts center didn’t have much success when asking buyers for a $25 donation, but things changed instantly when he started a campaign with a $1 pop up.

That campaign saw hundreds of donors making small offerings, which identified them for follow-ups from Scot. “That flags them as people who will take a second to contribute, and when we hit them up later they make a larger donation,” explained Scot. “We’re able to recognize them as being slightly more bleeding heart.”

The Apple Approach to the Customer Experience

Not that Apple.

While we have and will continue to learn a great deal about the customer experience from Apple the company, I’m talking about the actual fruit.

I recently read a story in the Washington Post that explained in great detail how a small, but clever, tweak to how apples are sold has increased consumption of the fruit.

In essence, a group of researches had a “hunch” that the apples being served to kids as part of the National School Lunch Program were being thrown away – virtually untouched – because they were being served whole, rather than sliced.

These researchers from Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab were right.

A pilot study conducted at eight schools found that fruit consumption jumped by more than 60 percent when apples were served sliced. And a follow-up study, conducted at six other schools, not only confirmed the finding, but further strengthened it: Both overall apple consumption and the percentage of students who ate more than half of the apple that was served to them were more than 70 percent higher at schools that served sliced apples.

“It sounds simplistic, but even the simplest forms of inconvenience affect consumption,” said David Just, a professor of behavioral economics at Cornell who studies consumer food choices, and one of the study’s author.

Source Article

I’ll repeat that… ‘even the simplest forms of inconvenience affect consumption.’

The same holds true for consumers of live entertainment – even a small inconvenience will impact the customer experience and, in all likelihood, revenue.

That’s why it’s so critical for you to take a step back and study your organization from the customer’s perspective.  Look specifically for ‘inconveniences’ that can be transitioned into opportunities.  Here are a few examples:

→ Accept credit cards for everything you sell (and throw away all those “cash only” signs).
Partner with Uber so that your customers can have that second beer or glass of wine (guilt free) and get a safe ride home.
Add more staff or move some to your busiest gates to reduce lines for people entering your venue.
Offer pre-paid parking so customers can present a voucher and drive right in.
Reduce the transaction process to buy tickets by one or two clicks.
Include a hand wipe with the sale of  messy concessions like nachos and cotton candy (parents will love you!).

There are many ways you can work to identify your customers’ inconveniences. Take an afternoon to brainstorm with your colleagues. Set up a survey, questionnaire or focus group to learn directly from your customers.  Also consider becoming an undercover customer so that you can experience the journey firsthand – buy tickets on your own credit card, arrive with other eventgoers and see how your experience unfolds.

AVConnect 2016: By the Numbers

Magical Experiences at INTIX

Live entertainment is all about experiences and we can’t wait to experience the magic of the 37th Annual INTIX Conference with you!

AudienceView is proud to be a returning gold-level sponsor of the annual conference.  And, we’re super-excited that this year’s destination is the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

In keeping with our commitment to the industry and this essential annual gathering of ticketing professionals, the AudienceView team will be hosting events, offering unique experiences and networking alongside our peers in the after-hours.  AudienceView staff and clients will also be leading sessions on a number of trailblazing topics.

Magical Memories

AudienceView is proud to be helping ticketing professionals around the world create magical memories for their audiences.  At INTIX, we want to create a magical memory for you!

Join us on Wednesday, January 20 from 3:00-3:30 p.m. in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom Foyer for a photo with a Disney characters.  Have your phone ready so you can share this special Disney moment with family, friends and colleagues.  It’s like a meet, greet and Tweet opportunity (and makes a great Facebook profile photo too!).

As the sponsor of Thursday’s INTIX Awards Luncheon, we’re delighted to join in the annual tradition that celebrates achievements and innovation in our industry.

We’ll also be raising a toast (or many!) with a signature AudienceView drink at the Bash After Party on Thursday evening.  Join us beginning at 10:00 p.m. in the INTIX lounge at the Disneyland Hotel’s Sleeping Beauty Pavilion.  Stop by our booth – #207, right inside the entrance – to grab a drink ticket or find an AudienceView staff member when you arrive.

Unforgettable Education

On top of socializing with you, AudienceView staff and clients will share their expertise in a variety of INTIX sessions.

On Wednesday, January 20 at both 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Mimi Kruger, Director of Philanthropy for the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), will reveal how LPO is using shared resources to improve efficiency and create sustainability while strengthening the New Orleans arts community.  This case study highlights LPO’s success as it returned to the Orpheum Theater 10 years after Hurricane Katrina floodwaters overtook the building.

Wednesday afternoon, Peter Monks, Commercial Director of the Ambassador Theatre Group, will take part in the 3:00 p.m. conference breakout session for arenas, large venues and sheds.

Bright and early Thursday at 9:00 a.m., Opry Entertainment Group’s Crystal Clinton, Ticketing System Administrator, and Christina Pryor, Ticketing and Package Specialist, will join Brendan Bruss, Executive VP of the PMI Entertainment Group and President of the U.S. Hockey League’s Green Bay Gamblers, to discuss event day strategies and the role they play in creating magical experiences.

Later that Thursday morning at 11:00 a.m., April Moon, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager for Canadian Stage, will share the silver lining of a project gone awry in the #Fail to #Phenomenal round robin session.

On Friday at 10:30 a.m., Maureen Andersen, our VP of Arts and Entertainment and the Chair-Elect of INTIX, joins a group of highly accomplished industry lifers in the “Been There, Done That” panel.  Maureen and her fellow INTIX Lifetime Achievement Award holders have an incredible range of experience and knowledge, giving attendees a unique opportunity to ask difficult questions they might not want to ask colleagues or bosses.

At the same time, I’ll be joined by Joseph Yoshitomi, Director of Marketing and Communications for Geffen Playhouse, and Matt Savant, Director of Marketing and Brand Management for the Anaheim Ducks, to discuss mobile-moments.  Google coined it, but entertainment and live events professionals must master micro-moment marketing, which can mean a full-house instead of empty seats, more opportunities to connect and no lost sales.

Memorable Meetings

We would also love to meet with you one-on-one at INTIX!  Private demo meetings can be arranged during INTIX week or by contacting Lindsey Mertz directly.

INTIX will be the most magical place on earth from January 20-22, 2016.  We can’t wait to see you there!


When it comes to season brochures, everyone in your organization has a stake.

For the artistic department, it is a record of everything they are putting on stage, documenting what historians will refer to in the near and distant future. So, those photos better be good!

From the perspective of the development team, it’s a chance to re-engage lapsed donors and to move many others through the pipeline.

In the box office, this is the guide to the season, used when recommending shows to customers.

For the Board of Directors, it’s the conversation starter to brag about upcoming events for the great organization to which they dedicate so much energy.

Over in marketing, the season brochure showcases creativity and their team’s skills in building excitement for dedicated fans and more passive ticket buyers.

And for all of these teams, it usually swallows up a considerable amount of time.

With the high turnover in our industry, this might be your first season brochure with your organization. Or, perhaps you are a 20-year veteran looking to change the concept this year.

Regardless of your tenure, before re-inventing the wheel, here are six recommendations to consider:

  1. Keep the main purpose in mind. Almost every department feels the need to go full-on Devil Wears Prada with the season brochure. At the kick off meeting, team members come with examples – from coffee table books to souvenir publications from arts organizations on the other side of the world. Of course the season brochure is a clean slate without a lot of technical restrictions, but that isn’t a license to go nuts with creativity. Keep in mind most of your readers will be single ticket buyers you want to encourage to subscribe for the first time. Many art forms are intimidating to the general public, and turning a special date night into a subscription is an uphill battle. Creating a brochure that is too exclusive, artistic, or cutting-edge may alienate those you are trying to move through your pipeline.
  2. Tell a great story. Using a narrative is an excellent way to make your season brochure resonate with your target audience. Although the artistic department wants to make sure the aura of the season is properly communicated, a captivating tale is a powerful way to engage a community. Creating your season’s brand story is a lengthy process, but can yield fantastic results. Check out the examples listed at the end of this post for more info.
  3. Keep it simple when needed. Many arts organizations will design a stunning brochure from pages one through nine, only to be faced with the dilemma of a purely functional layout for pages 10 and 11. As you go through your final revisions, try not to be bothered by the look of the pricing chart and seat map in comparison to a beautiful photo of If/Then or the athleticism of the Ailey dancers. If you start thinking about making the pricing chart or the seat map a work of art, or eliminating either completely, don’t! There is no reason to compare these two elements as one is for beauty and one is for function. Curating photos can entice someone to buy a subscription or move their subscription into a membership or donation. They still need the seat map to know where they are sitting and what their experience will be like. This and your pricing scheme are critical components to selling subscriptions. Make them as gorgeous as you can, but keep the reader in mind!
  4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Speaking from experience, you can never proofread a document too many times. After working on the season brochure for months and months, you are sure you’ve caught every mistake and can go to print. Taking an extra 20 minutes to go to a coffee shop with the final proof, getting out a red sharpie and cross-referencing absolutely every photo credit, descriptive sentence, show time and price can save you a lot of grief and a lot of money if an accent is missing from someone’s name or a sponsor is not recognized with the proper title.
  5. Design is only one element. If you are the project leader of the season brochure, designing the document usually takes priority, but equal effort should be given to printing, distribution, recording, and re-printing the brochure. Remember to keep the 7Ps of marketing in mind, as you would with any other campaign. Think of the full experience of enjoying a season brochure as a patron. What paper stock are you using? How is it being delivered? Does anything need to be considered with the envelope? When should it arrive? Is it one distribution, or do you do two distributions? I subscribed to a theatre company in Victoria, B.C. early on in my career. Instead of mailing their season brochure, they asked me to come to the front of house to pick it up. I was given a personal card with a note thanking me for subscribing and asking me to check their website for what was coming next year. How cool is that? And how much money did they save on printing and mailing costs? You can do a lot outside of the brochure itself that can make the season brochure much more powerful.
  6. Launching without all the info is perfectly fine. As I speak to more and more colleagues in our industry, I am learning that more organizations are launching their season with unconfirmed programming. While I would think to shy away from this idea, it is quite apparent that the majority of loyal subscribers care most about their seats and keeping them year after year, no matter what you’re putting on stage. Patrons are committed and understand what goes into programming your season. Those who are returning (who are your most profitable customers) are not going to hold off until your programs are fully announced.One hesitation we all have with this idea is that the season brochure feels so permanent. But how permanent is the season brochure?Let’s be honest – nobody refers to this document once the first or second show of your season has closed. You have better images for future shows by the time November rolls around and your efforts have turned to single ticket buyers. The shelf life of the season brochure is shorter than we think. Yes, it is a nice record to keep for years to come, but it’s certainly not the only piece of compelling collateral your team will produce.

As you begin creating your season brochure, here are some stellar examples from our clients over the last few seasons:

  1. Aberdeen Performing Arts: A great showcase of mixing show brands into a master scheme.
  2. Canadian Stage: Transferring the online brand into a print document.
  3. Chan Centre for the Performing Arts: This one has the key patron info in the middle, so you can easily keep the document throughout the year after sending in a subscription form.
  4. Curve, Leicester: An excellent document with all audiences in mind – including single ticket buyers, donors, and business clients. There is also space allocated to shows based on interest and blockbuster nature and a great seat map.
  5. Het Nationale Opera & Ballet (Dutch National Opera & Ballet): This brochure does a phenomenal job of telling two brand stories – even if you don’t speak Dutch, you can understand the emotions of each company’s season and still easily see where your seats will be.
  6. Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra: A lovely piece that showcases the artists as a pivotal part of the community, telling their brand story, as well as integrating a great seat map and pricing chart.
  7. Merrimack Repertory Theatre: This online component of the season brochure provides all the information you could want as a ticket buyer or donor, and also adds personal connections between the artists and the audience with this video from their Artistic Director.
  8. University of Florida Performing Arts: An excellent example showing how different art forms can be presented in one document, as well as a great illustration of mixing style and function.

One-on-One: Aubrey Stork, Digital, CRM & Loyalty Manager, Mirvish Productions

Mirvish_thumbnailBased in Toronto, Mirvish Productions is Canada’s largest commercial theatre production company. Mirvish operates the Royal Alexandra Theatre, a historic venue it saved from demolition in 1963, the luxurious 2,000-seat Princess of Wales Theatre, which opened in 1993, the 2,300-seat Ed Mirvish Theatre and the intimate 700-seat Panasonic Theatre. Its subsidiary TicketKing provides online ticketing services to both Mirvish Productions and many smaller Toronto theatre companies.

As Digital, CRM & Loyalty Manager, Aubrey is ultimately responsible for maximizing the lifetime value of Mirvish customers. On the CRM side, he manages all email marketing communications, including mass emails and lifecycle-based emails, which Mirvish plans to use regularly in the coming months. In the area of loyalty, Aubrey is implementing technology to help increase lifetime customer value for existing patrons. Digitally, Aubrey manages all of Mirvish’s online advertising efforts as well as optimization, making sure customers can easily find the theatre company, find the show they are interested in and make a purchase.

A masterpiece of beaux-arts architecture, the historic Royal Alexandra is Toronto's senior theatre and, at 101, never having been converted to any other use, the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America.

A masterpiece of beaux-arts architecture, the historic Royal Alexandra is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America.

AV: How does technology help a business like Mirvish?

Aubrey: I think technology serves to enhance the experience. I’m probably not the first person ever to say this, but I think the show-going experience starts long before a person gets into the theatre and can continue long after that as well. We are looking at how we make that the best that it can be. From the ticket-buying process to pre-show – making sure patrons have all the information they need to get to the show on time, to find parking, etc. – and then post-show asking them what they thought of the show and continuing on that conversation with relevant messaging based on who they are and what they like.

AV: How is Mirvish using technology?

Aubrey: AudienceView powers all of our ticketing. We are also using it for our pre-show and post-show communications. The latest thing that we are using AudienceView for is our point-of-sale (POS) system. In our theatres, we have rolled out the POS system that AudienceView built with some of our input, so all of our concession sales are going through that system as well with the goal of having a 360-degree view of our customers.

Mirvish's membership card makes it possible to figure out who is making purchases. The organization uses that information to speak more intelligently and on point with its subscribers.

Mirvish knows who is making purchases using their membership card and uses that information to speak more intelligently and on point with its subscribers.

AV: And that’s linked to a membership card?

Aubrey: Yes, exactly. As it stands today, our subscribers have a card that allows them to access credit that’s on their account to then use for concessions. So different from a typical gift card, which is anonymous, this card allows us to figure out who is actually making the purchase so that we can use that information to speak more intelligently and on point with our subscribers.

AV: Why is technology a good complement to a great patron experience?

Aubrey: Technology paired with data allows us to treat individuals as individuals. I think it’s as simple as that. Digital becomes the channel that we are able to do that through and data is the driver that allows us to know what to say to the person we’re talking to.

AV: How does Mirvish plan to use technology to improve the customer journey?

Aubrey: I think the crux of it is using technology to find out who our customers are. We are laying the foundation for what I think is going to be a superior experience – before, during and after the show. What we intend to do is use technology to learn as much as we can about our customers so that we can then speak to them accordingly.

We will be introducing very comprehensive lifecycle programs primarily using email to talk to the customer who we may have identified is at risk of not purchasing as frequently this year as they did last year, for example.

We’ll talk to our best customers who are purchasing all the time but maybe never purchasing concessions at our theatres. And, we’ll be looking at ways we can generate more revenue and enhance the experience as well.

AV: You led the charge in implementing POS attached to membership cards at Mirvish. How has this project brought value to Mirvish and its patrons?

Aubrey: The idea started with incenting our subscribers to renew, to renew early and to pay in full early on as well. We provide payment plans, but obviously we prefer to have things taken care of rather quickly in that way.

The idea was to incent customers with a value that varied based on a number of different things – like when they renewed and if they paid in full. The second part to providing that incentive was that this credit could then be used at concessions, which traditionally for our subscribers doesn’t tend to be part of their show-going habit.

We thought we could achieve a couple of things with this new version of our subscriber card – again, getting customers to renew and encouraging new behavior.

I also looked at this in a grander way and saw the opportunity. By using AudienceView, we are able to tie all those purchases back to each subscriber and complete that full view… then roll it out sometime in the future to all of our customers, more likely by leveraging a mobile app, which we’ll also power using AudienceView.

AV: How can musical theatre and performing arts groups benefit by taking ideas from other sectors and introducing them into their businesses?

Aubrey: A lot of what we’re doing and what I’m intending to do is inspired by Starbucks. I think they do a fantastic job. They are a bricks and mortar business that up until two or three years ago had no idea who their customers were really, then they took what started as a gift card and rolled it into a loyalty program and an app. Now for me, it has changed my behavior. When I’m standing in line at Starbucks and about to make a payment, I look at my app to see if I have a balance. If I don’t, I reload it there to get my points. Right there is an example of other industries that are inspiring what it is that we’re doing in theatre.

AV: Some musical theatre and performing arts groups are just not proactive when it comes to technology, but they could be much more efficient if they were. How can technology help busy professionals do more and improve the overall customer experience?

Aubrey: AudienceView provides a wealth of data on our customers as it is today. Any of the arguments that I’ve had to make internally to sell what it is I’m looking to do have largely been based on the data. If we’re able to recognize or figure out what an average order total is or how many of our customers are actually active, we can start setting benchmarks for ourselves that we can then improve upon and continually measure to see how we are doing and where we need to make improvements.

There is a lot of opportunity to leverage what we know about a customer and communicate with them to bolster their value over time.

Motown the Musical is the first show of Mirvish's 2015-16 season.

Motown the Musical is the first show of Mirvish’s 2015-16 season.

AV: What else is Mirvish doing with technology that is innovative?

Aubrey: Subscription upselling. For example, Motown, which is the first show of our 2015-16 season – if you were to purchase a ticket today, tomorrow you would get an email saying you can get a discount on the ticket you just purchased effectively by subscribing to the season. We then go on to highlight the rest of the shows in the season.

One of the things we plan to do – and this circles back nicely to the POS data that we are collecting now through AudienceView – is use concessions buying patterns as a way to incent other behaviors. For example, if we see a customer buys wine every single time they go to a show, rather than giving them a discount on a ticket for another show we can offer to credit their account with the $8.00 it would be for that glass of wine if they purchase tickets to the show. So more than just upselling concessions itself, we now have ability to use that in-theatre experience to encourage other purchase behavior as well.

In addition to that, again related to the POS system…is to allow patrons to pre-buy or load credit onto their card so that they can make their purchase before they even get to the theatre and then just scan their card and go to their seats. With that, we’ve also talked about the idea of having an exclusive line for our cardholders.

AV: That’s similar to Starbucks – don’t wait in line for a drink, order it in advance and we’ll have it ready when you get here!

Aubrey: Yes, exactly. It’s funny, one of the challenges that one of our front of house managers had mentioned was if you come to one of our theatres, there could be eight or ten bars, how do you know where your drink is going to be? Then Starbucks came along, again as a business I’m looking at to see what they are doing, and they’ve introduced this pre-ordering concept. Obviously they have a couple locations around, so they’ve solved that problem. When we get to the phase of rolling out an app, that is something that we’ll look to do.

AV: Why is it important to remain at the front of the technology curve in musical theatre and the performing arts?

Aubrey: I think technology is more and more becoming ingrained in our day-to-day lives and is becoming increasingly important to the next generation of theatre goers who expect to be able to do certain things with a certain ease.

Further, it’s become necessary based on the fragmentation of market: where traditionally we’d use mass media to reach our audience, these channels are becoming less and less effective. Paired with a growing expectation from consumers that we speak with them as individuals, it’s becoming critical to ensure our technology can satisfy these needs and expectations.

Making the Most of Performing Arts ‘Dump Months’

In almost every area of the entertainment and events industry, there is at least one time of year that is less than optimal for engaging audiences.

In TV, many long-running series get cancelled after being moved to the Friday Night Death Zone. Remember Prison Break and Ugly Betty?

Early July is the timeout period for almost every major sports league.

The very start of the school year and the holiday season are referred to as the Off Season Dead Zones for most museums and cultural attractions.

Ticketed entertainment is no different and the performing arts’ ‘dump months’ are right around the corner.


What’s the story behind the idea of the dump months?

The idea of the dump months comes from the film world, where the industry quickly formed the belief that the months of August, September, October, January and February were a good dumping ground for films that studios felt would fail.

Much like any area of the arts, films are produced for different reasons. Some because actors want to remain connected to cinema as art or as a pet project by someone with a lot of industry pull. Others are politically driven, perhaps so a stmarquee-dump-monthsudio can develop clout within the festival circuit. Or else a title is expected to be a tent pole film when it is developed, only to be produced into a movie distributors know will come up short of predictions. All of these categories are the movies that get scheduled for release in the dump months.

If you look at the five movie dump months, you’ll see a few trends:

  • People have less disposable income after expensive annual events: there are always costs that come with the start of the school year and the holidays
  • There are competing priorities for entertainment: think television premieres, performing arts blockbusters and major sporting events like the Super Bowl and Olympics
  • Other industry factors blocking major releases: eligibility for major awards ends the last week of December and summer blockbusters are released at the start of the summer

All in all, the dump months are not the best time to draw huge crowds of moviegoers. That same idea has now spread to the performing arts.


The dump months in live entertainment

Though not as defined as the film industry, the performing arts dump months generally come between blockbuster productions. Opening and closing a season with a blockbuster and adding a third audience favorite, like a holiday show or a mid-season audience blockbuster, is the typical arc for a year’s programming.

Perhaps you have an upcoming show that has a bit more of an edge. Or one that your Artistic Director is looking to test in the market between the season opener and a holiday staple. Regardless of which it may be, the dump months are coming from mid-October until at least the American Thanksgiving long weekend.


Are the dump months a bad thing for an entertainment or performing arts organization?

While the dump months for an organization sound like one of the worst times to be in the ticketed entertainment industry, these weeks can be a catalyst for creativity.

Many artistic departments use the dump months as a time to showcase experimental content and the same concept can be applied for complementary administrative activities. There can be just as much creativity in the front of house as there is on stage and ticketed entertainment professionals can be as experimental as their artistic counterparts.

You shouldn't expect a full house during the dump months, and that's okay!

You shouldn’t expect a full house during the dump months, and that’s okay!

If you look at the projections for mid-fall and late-winter productions, I’ll bet that an entire run of the new show your organization is testing would be the equivalent of one night of your holiday production. Your blockbusters use tried-and-tested strategies to earn revenue from group sales, merchandise, concessions, field trips, donations and anything else you do to engage your customers. These are classics and they bring in audiences, so you can’t discount their importance.

But you also can’t discount your own innovation and your desire to try out new strategies on a sample group of customers.

The dump months provide a perfect opportunity to do so. Especially as your attendees are often your most loyal patrons, whose subscriptions include tickets to these harder-to-sell shows. These audience members love your organization and want to experience your growth, and this isn’t limited to artistic pursuits and they are likely the ones to give you the most candid feedback on your new initiatives.


Using the dump months to your advantage

The appeal for loyal patrons to attend a cutting-edge show is to experience it before it becomes a blockbuster – to be among the first to enjoy how your organization grows. But this shouldn’t be limited to what they see on the stage or on screen.

Here is where the magic lies in the dump months. Your loyal patrons are eager to experience something new in every step of their journey. Is there a new front of house enhancement you want to try out with an audience? What about a new fundraising campaign that’s a little crazy? Or how about a unique piece of merchandise that might get people talking?

Many of us fail to try something edgy in the arts because absolutely every dollar counts as budgets become even thinner, yet dump months are the perfect time to see if and how new strategies are adopted by your customers.

If it’s a success, you’ve unlocked the next great strategy to advance your organization during next year’s blockbuster.

And if it fails? The great thing is that you tried, learned something new and now know your patrons even better.

The dump months are a great time for everyone to experiment with new ideas. Artists bring out shows that may only play once, and you can do the same. If your new idea gets a standing ovation from customers, bring it back for an encore! But if you face a flop, no one will remember because your holiday blockbuster weeks are just around the corner.

5 Tips to Improve your Digital Curb Appeal

Thanks to HGTV, we all know that curb appeal is important when selling a house. A green lawn, healthy hanging plants, freshly painted front door and other finishing touches capture the attention of prospective buyers as they approach for a viewing.

In real estate, curb appeal is micro-content that leads to macro-content – the inside of a home. If you don’t put time and effort into the micro-content, many buyers will never make it inside.

Marketing in live entertainment is no different. Organizations tend to focus on the macro-content – beautifully designed websites, tightly organized infographics and well-crafted email campaigns.

Unfortunately, micro-content is too often an afterthought. The choices you make for subject lines and social media images are just as critical, yet they don’t receive the proper attention. And the focus on micro-content is even more important with shorter attention spans, saturation of mobile devices and the way consumers are now living in micro-moments.

Micro-content is by no means a new concept. Bold and outrageous headlines sold newspapers far before we had the Internet and social media. An article written by Jakob Nielsen – coined ‘The Guru of Web Page Usability’ by The New York Times – in September 1998 focused on micro-content as it related to writing headlines, page titles and subject lines. In it, Nielsen provided tips and tricks that focused on the “40-60 characters” that summarized the macro-content in emails or on web pages. His ideas continue to ring true today.

Times were simpler in 1998, even for online marketing. While subject lines and page titles are still very important gates to our macro-content, today we must pay special attention to digital media that looks great and can be quickly consumed.

The images we share on Facebook must be unique and eye-catching.

GIFs we Tweet must be attention-grabbing.

Videos short and powerful.

And infographics visually appealing and highly educational.

Here are five tips for your micro-content:

  1. Keep It simple, silly. Including every possible piece of information in everything you do makes for very noisy marketing messages. Have someone edit your work as a second set of eyes. If you don’t need it, delete it.
  2. Less is more. A character limit isn’t a character goal. According to Buffer, Tweets of less than 100 characters get 17% more engagement.
  3. Don’t round peg, square hole it. Write copy and crop media specifically for the digital vehicle you’re using to share the content (shameless plug for my Twitter image size blog post).
  4. Make it mobile-friendly. Audiences are consuming more and more digital content on smartphones and tablets. A recent comScore report reveals that mobile devices account for an astounding 60% of total digital media activity.
  5. Focus on ROI. Test and measure. Your customers are unique to your business, so use your data to best understand the micro-content that best resonates and leads to conversions.

Although digital assets can be fleeting, the individual parts make up the whole that represents your brand. If your micro-content is created correctly, consumers will consume your macro-content, which ultimately leads to transactions.

Journey to AVConnect 2016 in the Emerald City

Dorothy’s journey along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City is a classic story of a quest for more. Joined by Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and her trusty dog Toto (too), Dorothy and her friends are seeking more courage, more heart, more intelligence and more meaning.

The parallel to our AudienceView community is hard to ignore.

AudienceView users are a different and amazing breed of people in live entertainment.  They have a desire to do more for their organizations, give more to their customers and be more professionally.

We’re beyond proud that this community of intelligent, passionate and courageous AudienceView users has invited us along on their journey.

In turn, we invite the entire AudienceView community to the Emerald City – Seattle in this case – to join us for a three-day voyage to:

  • Increase your knowledge (Scarecrow)
  • Cultivate courage (Cowardly Lion)
  • Share your passion (Tin Man)
  • Feed your curiosity (Dorothy)
  • Develop friendships with industry peers and AudienceView staff (Toto)

Registration for AVConnect 2016 is open!

Born in our home city of Toronto in 2010, our AVConnect annual event in North America is a must-attend winter retreat for anyone who uses AudienceView as part of their job. Our turnout grows every year and we anticipate record numbers of delegates next February for our 7th annual users conference in Seattle.

Registration is officially open for the conference, so please click here to register today!

Here’s the conference registration rate schedule:


As always, we encourage multiple people from your organization to attend so that you can divide and conquer during concurrent sessions. Our team discount offer – register 3, get 1 FREE – is available during the entire open registration period. To be eligible, all registrants in your group must be from the same organization.

Conference Quick Facts

In-depth information can be found on our website, but here are some conference quick facts to get you started:

  • Dates – February 23-25, 2016
  • Location – Downtown Seattle, WA
  • Host Hotel – Seattle Renaissance
  • Attendee Profile – Anyone and everyone who uses or interacts with the AudienceView solution will benefit greatly from attending the conference

So grab your ruby slippers and join us.  Come February, you’ll be saying there’s no place like Seattle!

The ‘Undercover Customer’ Challenge

Going ‘undercover’ to experience your business from a different perspective isn’t new.

If you don’t watch Undercover Boss – a TV show in which “high-level corporate execs leave the comfort of their offices and secretly take low-level jobs within their companies to find out how things really work and what their employees truly think of them” – I suspect you’ve at least heard of it and understand the concept.

The journey of the C-level executive on Undercover Boss provides valuable insight into behind-the-scenes jobs that are super critical to running a successful business. The goal of the undercover mission is to understand the employee experience and then make the necessary changes to improve it when and where possible.

I’d like to flip the script and challenge live events organizations to send their staff members, from C-level execs to those on the front lines, undercover to experience, well, the customer experience.

The New York Times ran a similar experiment by blocking access to their home page on desktops in their Manhattan headquarters. The memo to employees, which was Tweeted by the company’s Deputy Managing Editor Clifford Levy, said more than half of the The Times is on mobile and that the temporary change would spur them to make mobile an even more central part of everything they do.



We challenge you to experience the entire lifecycle of the your customer using these steps:

  • Search for an event on your website.
  • Buy the tickets. Yes, with a real credit card.
  • Select the delivery method most commonly used by your customers.
  • Drive to the event from your home at the same time as the rest of your event-goers. Or take mass transit if that is the more typical experience.
  • If you do drive, leave your staff credentials at home. Park in a lot with your customers. And pay for the parking.
  • Line up and have your tickets scanned at the door.
  • Enter the venue.
  • Find your seats.
  • Buy a drink. And a snack. And merchandise. Consider doing so at different times so you can experience the line during intermission or half-time.
  • Enjoy the event.
  • Leave the event when everyone else does.
  • Engage with any follow-up marketing such as post-event emails and surveys.

Take notes as you go and solicit input from your guest. How was your customer experience? What can be improved? How was the customer service? How much did you spend? Did you feel valued as a customer?

This type of undercover mission is a great first step towards creating a customer-centric culture within your organization. Encourage everyone in your organization to go undercover once a year.  Form a small committee to review the results and create action items that will improve the customer experience.

If everyone in your organization is focused on the customer experience, you will get even better.

Are you willing to accept my challenge? If so, I would love to hear about your experience and invite you to be a guest blogger to share it with our audience.


Six Employee Orientation Must-Do’s For The New Season

Unless you work in a sports or arts organization that has its peak in the summer months, you are now gearing up for the big season opener and wrapping up your to-do list, ensuring every small detail has been planned as you welcome your audiences and fans back into your venues.

Summer is a great time of the year to plan for the coming 10 months of business activities and to transition jobs since it is the dark time of the year for sports and arts organizations.

Chances are you’ll be welcoming new staff into your organization to support the upcoming season.  It’s important to get those relationships off on the right foot.

Human resources are not a strong point in the arts or sports and we have many new employees join our industry for a week or so, only to call their previous employer up and hope their job is still available. Although the live event industry is one of the most heavily unionized ecosystems in the modern world, human resources departments are usually an under-staffed part of our business (and that’s if they exist at all). This combination of a scattered HR presence in the workplace and the overall chaos that comes from the live events industry we love working in means being a good manager can make all the difference in reducing employee churn, especially if your organization does not have dedicated HR staff.

Here are six tips for on-boarding your new employees while keeping on top of your own job too.

Do people not want to talk to me because they're wearing headphones?

Do people not want to talk to me because they’re wearing headphones?

  1. Offer culture tips in advance. Every office has nuances that are not written into a contract or employee handbook – from the dress code to whether everyone takes lunch together at the same time. This can intimidate new hires on their first day. For example, if you work in an office of people who listen to music while working, say so. This will curb any potential feelings of isolation and your new team member can have headphones handy! Reaching out before someone starts also reinforces the fact that you value them as a new employee.
  2. Have a prepared workstation. Remember how great it was to come to work on your first day and see that the desk was still messy from the last person who just up and left? Exactly. It may seem like a great first task is to have someone organize their work station to get them oriented with what their predecessor did, but who wants to come in to someone else’s mess? Ensure your new team member has a clean desk, including Having a work space prepared for someone, including a working computer with logins and all the required software. This will make him or her feel like a valued new addition instead of someone who is just picking up where someone else left off. Having business cards ready and waiting is also a nice touch.
  3. Set aside time on their first day for a tour, lunch and end of day follow-up. Perhaps the most important minutes that determine whether someone is a good fit or not for your organization is that first half hour when they join your team. Be there to welcome new recruits when they arrive, make sure they feel comfortable at their desk and be generous with your time on the first day. As a manager, you are the most important relationship in their professional life. Set aside time to have lunch together, arrange a tour of your building and any off-site venues, and be sure to set 30 minutes aside at the end of the day to answer questions.
  4. Introduce the team and set up introductory meetings. Many arts and sports organizations are becoming much more vertically integrated, introducing in-house graphic designers and/or hiring full-time artistic staff like costume designers. Meeting cross-functional partners, especially in a dynamic environment like a live events organization, can inspire employees to do their best. It also helps new hires feel like part of the team. Schedule appointments for your new hire to meet with everyone, even if they will have relatively little to do with each other professionally, as this creates a culture of comradery.
  5. Give them something to read. It can be difficult to transition work to a new hire, even though they always want to get started right away. Make sure they are familiar with your business by providing reading material and lots of it! Give them the employee handbook if you have one. Put a stack of old playbills on their desk. Ask them to review the bios of your team’s athletes. Get them up to speed with your culture and everything your organization offers its ticket buyers.
  6. Discuss and assign work plans. We are all guilty of withholding projects. After all, why take the time to explain something when you can just do it yourself in half the time? I’m not suggesting you need to get a new hire to create a huge marketing plan on day one, but why not ask themto start thinking of a social media contest? Offering useful assignments to occupy time in the early days will make new hires feel valued and it also helps them orientate themselves as they navigate the organization.


These tips are designed to make sure your new hire has a good first impression of your organization. While you selected them for the job, chances are they are still making their decision about you. And it is not unheard of for an employee to resign after the first week or even on the first day.

Ensuring new employees feel like valued, contributing members of an organization they are likely already passionate about can go a long way towards transitioning them into valuable contributors.

Customer Experience Data Drives Key Decisions

There have been countless articles and blog posts written about Uber since it was founded in 2009. The app-based ridesharing service has grown quickly – it now operates in 58 countries and 300 cities (as of May 2015).

When I think of Uber, the first word that comes to mind is disruption. Without a doubt, as a technology conduit that connects riders with drivers, Uber has completely disrupted the taxi industry around the world.

At a higher level, Uber has disrupted other industries by inspiring entrepreneurs to “Uberfy” legacy business models. The strict regulations and politics in the taxi industry have made the rise and success of Uber that much more impressive.

An August 2014 article deviated from the typical “technology disruption” storyline, suggesting Uber’s disruptive value proposition is more about economics (less costly), functionality (more convenient) and psychology (less risk + bragging rights for early adopters).

I’d like to add a fourth point, which resonates for me as an entertainment industry professional and consumer.

Bilateral accountability.

With Uber, the passenger rates the driver and the driver rates the passenger – both out of five stars. And the rating matters to both drivers and passengers.

According to an Uber newsroom post – cleverly titled “Feedback Is A Two-Way Street ” – action has been taken against both parties.

“Have partner drivers been deactivated for consistently poor ratings? You bet,” the post states.

“Have riders been given a temporary cooling off period or barred from using the app for inappropriate or unsafe behavior? Yes.”

Driver Ratings

Rating Grid for Uber Drivers

I love the idea that both parties are accountable.

Uber drivers have even more reason to provide amazing customer service.

Uber passengers are encouraged to actively participate in the full lifecycle of their riding experience – from ensuring their pin is dropped in the right place and getting quickly into the vehicle (time is money!) to treating the driver and their car with care and respect. With my rating of 4.6, which I got by emailing and including the email and phone number registered to my account, I am within the preferred 4.0 to 5.0 rating. (You can also get your rating via the web or in the Uber app.)

Pretty simple, right?

Wondering how this can be applied to your industry?

Consumers of live entertainment rate our events and share their feelings about the overall experience in many ways – via social media, surveys, emails and in-venue discussions with staff. This information should be tracked in customer profiles if you have an integrated, CRM-based e-commerce solution in place.

Rating customers and storing information in a single profile is equally simple with the right technology. Or, put another way, do you want to know if someone repeatedly causes trouble at your venue? This type of behavior can ruin the event-going experience for your other guests, who may then choose not to return.

Is a ban in order for these types of guests? And how will you ban them without a record of their troublesome activities?

At the same time, a proactive gesture to those sitting around the troublemaker could be your saving grace.

A complimentary beverage and in-person apology from a senior member of your customer service team at the next event may be in order. Or, perhaps a phone call to address the situation, solicit feedback and assure your guests you are addressing the situation.

Without a unified CRM strategy, it’s difficult to create useful customer profiles and address situations before they impact your bottom line.

If you would like to learn how your organization can implement bilateral accountability, drop me a line – I would love to chat! I would also love to hear from organizations that are effectively tracking the customer experience and how this data is driving key decisions.

Six Ways to Improve Your RFP Process

It’s been a decade since I left the University of Oregon and moved into the private sector, working for various sports technology start-ups before joining AudienceView. Along the way, I’ve wrestled with university procurement offices in almost every state. The valuable lessons I’ve learned form the basis of these tips, which can help make the RFP process run more smoothly for your organization.

1. Picking the day / time for the RFP deadline.

Because executive approvals or sign-offs are the last thing that needs to happen before submission of an RFP, having Monday due dates can result in challenges for tracking down staff on Fridays before. If your organization makes bids due on, say, a Thursday, it’s easier for vendors to track down the appropriate officials and avoid issues with weekend courier routes.

2. Stick to your timeline.

The deadline for the bid is set in stone with a hard and fast date and time, often with a very tight turnaround time for responses. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, organizations reviewing RFP bids sometimes don’t stick to their own timeline. While projects may slip due to sickness, vacations and the general struggle to get all of the right people in the room to review, so please consider all of the dependencies and internal risks before you publish the official timeline. Be conservative and make the deadline attainable!

3. Ensure the RFP questions / requirements are on point.

On many occasions, I’ve seen RFPs with specs or requirements that apply to buying printers, paper or office furniture. When asked if those are requirements, procurement officers will respond with, “No, but that’s something we put in all of our bids.” In the spirit of preserving both your time in reviewing and vendors’ time in responding, please only list the requirements that relate to what you’re seeking. Proactively involving the key stakeholders – from marketing, fundraising, web, finance, operations, etc. – in the process of writing and reviewing the document will help avoid project hiccups and delays later in the process. Taking this action on the front end of the process will ensure that you and your organization cover all of the relevant angles and that the document is well vetted.

4. Make sure you give vendors enough time to respond.

Buying software – specifically the RIGHT software – takes time. Especially if ticketing and e-commerce revenue is the lifeblood of your organization, you are reviewing your current partnership and/or pursuing a new vendor. Beginning your process well in advance of your contract ending (12-18 months in advance) allows your organization to produce a thorough and well-constructed RFP. It also allows the vendors your considering enough time to ask the right questions and prepare the best and most relevant answers.

5. Make submissions easy (and environmentally friendly).

Communication technology has made great, helpful strides in the last few years, and sending electronic documents of high quality has become easily accessible to all organizations. Add in environmental concerns, and it looks like the days of six copies of an RFP, plus one original, plus a flash drive, plus a CD-ROM are likely on the decline. Opt to accept PDFs or electronic versions through purchasing software, which ensures that the copies that are produced are not reduced to poor quality black and white photocopies, and provides an opportunity to efficiently share as many times as required no matter what size your team is. The trees will thank you for it too.

6. Pick the day to deliver news and do it by phone.

So, you spend five months chasing business, you’ve been on countless conference calls talking about PCI and transferring files and, possibly, limits of liability. Then you get an email on a Friday afternoon and learn another vendor has been awarded the business. One way to turn a bad-news day into a valuable learning opportunity is giving some context as to why the bid was not successful, so the vendors can improve going forward and also understand exactly what drove the decision. Phone calls are always appreciated over just email, as is an opportunity for the vendor to schedule a few minutes with you to discuss the results.

I would be happy to share my experiences with any organization that is looking to improve their RFP process. Drop me an email and I’ll give you a call to chat!

Marketing Your Fundraising Properties

Fundraising and marketing departments are some of the biggest friends and foes in the live event industry. They often work side by side and share resources, but it can quickly become a competition if marketers become concerned about cannibalizing ticket sales because of too many donation campaigns, and vice versa for your development team.

Those of us who specialize in these two revenue-generating areas can forget that both fundraisers and marketers have the same goal – to create long-term relationships between audiences and an organization.

I recently presented on the art of fundraising at the Arts Marketing Association Conference in Birmingham, UK. This is a hot topic for cultural industries worldwide, as evidenced by the standing room crowd that spilled over into the halls during the early morning session!

To prepare, I spoke with development professionals from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway and The Netherlands. Each of these markets has different nuances when it comes to earning contributed revenue, but there are patterns that relate to interacting with donors and why this is important for any organization as a whole.

When you contrast European and North American ecosystems, Western Europe traditionally has the most public funding while Canada and the USA rely more on private support. However, even this is changing as more and more governments require arts organizations to earn contributed revenue from corporate and individual sources.

This is no doubt a learning curve for most organizations and it’s hard to know where to begin. But if you’re just starting out as fundraisers for your arts organization, you probably have more skills than you realize.


The Gateway Playhouse recently switch from a commercial to non-profit model Better Together

Fundraising and marketing use the same procedures to earn revenue – each department is just hypertargeting their efforts to different people in the customer pipeline.

Marketing is the first department to target a customer. They focus on the masses to attract new audience members, and then cultivate those who attend their first event into a repeat buyer and hopefully a subscriber. Once the customer is passionate about your organization, development can take over to deepen the relationship and offer an expanded customer experience. Marketing principles are critical to success in both of these areas, and it starts with knowing how to position your offerings so that your target audience will be motivated to act.

The Gateway Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County is an excellent example of an organization that transformed its model based on a deep understanding of its customers.  It transformed from commercial theatre into a non-profit. The switch was very recent and incredibly successful!

Strategic communications to The Gateway’s subscribers described the change and how it would allow the team to offer a more interactive experience.

“Commercial theaters don’t really provide the opportunity to build a personal relationship with their donors,” explains Scot Alan from The Gateway. “Because The Gateway is now a non-profit organization, we have a team dedicated to knowing our donors and how to make the experience valuable for them.” Marketing Your Fundraising Properties

Understanding Donors is Key

The Dutch National Opera and Ballet has faced numerous changes in the last few years. These include a merger of the ballet and opera under the same organizational umbrella and a change in the funding model for the country, which requires the organization to raise contributed income to receive government grants.

“Our audiences are very different,” describes Teun Westhoff, Fundraising and Relationship Manager for the Dutch National Opera and Ballet. “Ballet is a much more popular and accessible art, while the opera is viewed as a more exclusive experience.”

Instead of trying to make ballet and opera relevant to everyone, the organization separates the art forms and their corresponding fundraising efforts to offer the best experience for each donor.

Having a thorough knowledge of your donors is not limited to individuals, but also extends to public funding bodies and sponsors as well.

“If there’s ever an option on a grant application to call someone with a question, I do,” says Scot Alan. “This is a relationship you need to cultivate as there’s always a person behind that government grant or that sponsorship your organization is receiving, and it’s vital to make sure this person feels comfortable with your organization.”

Same Goals, Different Tactics

Marketing and fundraising use different strategies to reach the same goals. For example, a development professional will use personalized notes to target specific donors while marketers send mass communications to wider target audiences. Other differences that are important to recognize include:

  • Heightened sense of urgency in fundraising. It is more personal and immediate than marketing.
  • “The business of no.” Rejection is expected in this area of the arts, which adds stress to the work that fundraisers do.
  • Marketing has to work around artistic programming as opposed to generally creating “the ask” as fundraisers do.

So what is the key to success to marketing your fundraising initiatives? It really begins with understanding that fundraising and marketing are one and the same – they’re just positioned in different spots along the pipeline of cultivation.

Ticket buyers become subscribers.  Donors are ticket buyers.  These are not separate audiences, so it makes sense that marketing and development teams can benefit by working together.

Why Great Businesses Sell through Partnerships and Channels

You can never take your eye off the ball for grasping and manufacturing opportunities that will expose your product or service to more people, chances to show the benefits of what you offer to your current customers so you can retain them with loyalty, and all the while keeping an eye on the competition and staying on top of what the market is offering so your solution does not slip into the sub-par category.

When faced with this unrelenting demand to stay current and relevant to your target market, the difference between good businesses and great businesses very quickly becomes apparent.

Good businesses engage in what could be best understood as hand-to-hand combat. They deal one-on-one with the critical tasks of producing, advertising, distributing, quality maintenance, exposure , building credibility and servicing of sales. Great businesses, however, choose to do the same things rather differently. They employ “leverage” to getting to the same goals – and typically achieve that through strategic marketing partnerships.

Here’s how a marketing partnership is defined by BusinessKnowHow:

A marketing partnership involves two or more professionals, companies or salespeople who have common prospects, similar marketing needs, and possibly complementary services. These entities join forces for mutual marketing and sales, usually within a specific market sector or for specific prospects. This does not mean they lose their individual identity. More than likely, each will continue to market and sell outside the partnership.

Marketing activities may involve:

  • Creating joint marketing materials
  • Joint direct mail, e-mail or advertising campaigns
  • Joint sales calls
  • Referring of prospects
  • Possibly even combining services, talents and assets to create new services

A good-fit strategic partnership will identify a new industry segment and/or channel in which to gain distribution for what you currently offer or could possibly innovate to supply – all within a sales category in which the partners do not compete.

Forbes Magazine did a round-up of well-known strategic brand partnerships that succeeded and benefitted both partners exponentially and its clear to see that unlikely brands – even when operating within the same industry – can become great allies to gain more traction and provide better service to their clientele.

Brands spend significant cash to set up and benefit from strategic partnerships in order to reach new client bases. Adweek reports “According to industry tracker IEG Sponsorship Report, North American-based companies will spend $1.3 billion to sponsor music venues, festivals and tours [in 2014],”

Strategic partnerships help businesses:

  • Reach customers they couldn’t have before
  • Lower the cost of acquisition of said customers
  • Create a positive halo effect based on the brands involved, increasing credibility and awareness
Paternship.body image

Image Source:

An example of a well thought-out strategic partnership would be SoulCycle and Spotify. SoulCycle shares a musical kinship with Spotify. Its instructors design playlists for classes, some devoted to a particular artist such as Beyoncé or Missy Elliott. Since “workout” is one of the biggest categories on their playlists, Spotify in turn hosted a series of concerts at SXSW 2015, and recruited artists like Gorgon City to perform during the SoulCycle classes there. Great partnerships create a win-win-win for partner organizations and their patrons, customers, advocates, and fans.

Marketing partnerships are not, in any way, a replacement for regular and dedicated marketing and sales activities, and they are no panacea for a broken marketing or sales program. But creating channels to tap into new market segments without having to do the heavy lifting of market development and benefitting from an established brand in that segment makes for great business sense and boosts bottom-lines.

Click here to learn more about amazing strategic partnerships that AudienceView has created to benefit our client base and help you increase your return on investment – for time, money, and effort.

Our team will be happy to help you explore the partnerships that best benefit YOUR business, so drop us a line at!


Delight, Sales, & Perfecting Your Key Customer Personas

Millennial Mark. Corporate Mom. Travelling Sam. Customer personas often get names just like these.

What are they exactly? Great question and one you should definitely be asking if your organization hasn’t yet created customer (or buyer) personas.

Millennial Mark and his “friends” are fictional characters that define the customer groups you want to attract and retain. In a nutshell, for entertainment organizations, they are representations of the consumers who are attending your events, buying merchandise, becoming members, making donations and more.

Why Are Customer Personas Important?

Personas help staff intuitively understand and relate to your customers, which is important to just about every aspect of an entertainment organization’s business, including:


  • Marketing – to tailor messaging and content to your audience and target or personalize it for different segments.
  • Advertising – to create traditional and online ads that are laser focused on potential buyers.
  • Sales – to offer products and services that your audience wants to buy.
  • Customer service – to ensure service excellence throughout the customer journey.
  • Fundraising – to ensure there is a personal connection to every “ask”.
  • Production – to book and produce desirable programming.


Getting Started

Creating customer personas isn’t rocket science. It just takes time, the ability to ask the right questions and a great template to summarize your findings in a way that is useful for everyone.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may have just a handful of personas. If you serve a diverse audience, you could have as many as 10 or 20. Don’t let this overwhelm you. The important thing is to start somewhere. You can always add other personas later on.

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  1. Find three to five people to interview for each persona. Start with colleagues who interact regularly with your customers. Include a mix of current customers and prospects too. Be clear that you are not trying to sell them something, make it easy for them to participate by offering flexible times to chat and offer a small incentive to say thanks.
  2. Create and use a standard list of questions. This way you won’t miss anything during the interviews. Ask “why” a lot because you are trying to understand behaviors and people are not always good at explaining why they do what they do.
  3. Use your customer data. If your e-commerce platform has an integrated CRM, you’ll have great data at your disposal. Run reports to uncover demographics, trends and consumer behavior.
  4. Create surveys and web forms to gain more insight. For example, where do people from each persona live? What are their interests? Favorite media and websites? This can help determine how far each consumer group travels to see your events, what type of products they may buy and what type of advertising will reach them.
  5. Consolidate your findings. Create a profile that includes the location, age, gender, interests, education level, job category and relationship status. Also include pain points, motivators, attitudes and media preferences. Then, give each persona a name – like “Millennial Mark,” “Corporate Mom” or “Travelling Sam” – and consider using a photo too. This makes them come alive for everyone in your organization.
  6. Keep it simple. Personas can get really detailed but that often makes them cumbersome to use and they get shelved. Keeping them simple will ensure they are used by your colleagues, with positive results.

Persona (1)

Your customer personas will change with time – and this is a good thing! Update them regularly as you learn more and add new ones as your audience grows and changes. Your organization – and its bottom line – will thank you for the time invested to understand your most important customer groups.

How Valuable is the Cradle-to-Grave Profile of your Clients?

With school out for the summer, my wife is faced with the challenge of keeping our kids busy to keep her from going insane. We’ve been scouring our local community to find events and camps that our kids can enjoy and learn from too.

As I think back to the various sports and day camps I attended as a child, there’s no doubt in my mind that these moments helped shape me into the person I am today. I specifically remember attending one basketball camp where I convinced my mom to buy all the gadgets that would help me with my game.  Dribble goggles, the shooting glove and a giant basketball all came home with me on the final day of camp. I may have looked a bit crazy on our driveway, but I was passionate about improving!

So why am I babbling about what I did as a child and what it means for your organization?

You must find a way to start getting to know consumers when they are young.

Most organizations have programming for young people and/or a percentage of attendees at specific event types are children. Understanding who those kids are and what makes them tick has immense, lifelong value for your organization. Consider these important points:

  • You start to build customer profiles around kids. By tracking and understanding their likes and dislikes, you are growing your database and future-proofing your business.
  • The children of today are your main customers of tomorrow. Going a step further, the children of today are your students of tomorrow. These are the same students who will come to your games or attend rush performances. They are also your future season ticket holders and subscribers.
  • Today’s season ticket holders and subscribers are tomorrow’s major donors. Clearly, there is value in watching and engaging kids as they grow up.

Building Lifelong Loyalty

This cradle-to-grave concept is something every entertainment organization should implement.

The cost of capturing and storing data is nothing if you have the right technology. By including customer relationship management (CRM) in your core organizational strategy, you at least ensure that you’re collecting the right data at the right time, even if you haven’t quite figured out how to use it. It’s never too early to start.

Understanding your younger demographic also brings value because they are a gateway to people who have money to spend today. Parents of children, much like my wife, are always looking for activities and events to attend with kids. It’s a simple equation: find the kids, get the money.

Creating and maintaining a lifelong relationship with people is hard, but it’s also essential. Plant your seeds, grow your roots and cultivate those relationships for as long as possible. You’ll be thrilled with the results.

Going Full Force With Mobile-First (Infographic)

Without doubt, mobile has overtaken desktop as the preferred choice for audiences around the world.

It’s estimated that by 2018, there will be eight billion mobile subscriptions. Put another way – 110% of the global population will have a mobile subscription.1

The mobile tipping point – when more than half of your audience arrives via mobile devices – is different for every business and organization. Many are there already, which isn’t surprising considering the tipping point for Internet usage shifted in 2014.2

Mobile usage and engagement is a hot topic as we embrace this new era, with accessible and responsive design at the forefront of ensuring a seamless and enjoyable customer experience.

Customer Convenience

When the smartphone was first introduced in 2007, the face of mobile phones changed forever. Putting the Internet at our fingertips suddenly allowed us to search for anything we needed to know, from anywhere.

It’s about convenience, after all, and approximately 58% 3 of  consumers say that they favor the convenience that mobile commerce offers over more traditional ways to make a purchase.

So where do you begin?

How do you best find out who your audience is and what they need from you?

When your customer is on a mobile device, what is he or she looking for?

When are they looking for it?

And, how are you planning to convert mobile visitors to mobile customers?

By answering these questions, you can refine your audience.

To learn more, check out the infographic below or get in touch. I’d love to chat!







Dealing With Five Generations in the Workplace

For the 2015 Arts Reach Canada Conference in Toronto, Maureen Andersen and I explored the implications of having five generations in the workplace. It’s the first time ever that these generations have all worked side by side, making this an exciting era for managers in any industry.

How big of a difference is there between generations?

How big of a difference is there between generations?

During our project kick-off meeting, Maureen (a Boomer) said she thinks my generation (Millennials) is eager to leave an organization if they are not promoted quickly. I thought this was an unfair generalization. Then I told Maureen that I believe Boomers love to delegate and she disagreed.

There we were building a presentation on working cross-generationally while disagreeing on how another generation acts. And, these types of preconceived notions are one of the biggest issues that multi-generational teams face.

So who are the five generations and what generalizations exist for each?

Traditionalists (Born before 1946):

  • Lived through the Great Depression and World War II, experienced struggles for minorities and women, have adopted many technological advances – from the first washing machines to personal computers
  • Loyal, respect authority, value job security and staying active, most would choose not to leave the workforce if they could stay (but not in a position of power)

Baby Boomers (1946-1964):

  • Lived through post-war social change during the 1960s, saw the struggles of their parents and desired a better life
  • Well educated, question authority, workaholics (but ready for retirement), most mindful of work-life balance

Generation X (1965-1980):

  • Witnessed dramatic changes in technology, economy and social norms (e.g. high divorce rate among parents), smallest generation in the workplace due to wide adoption of birth control, exposed to the best and worst of relationships
  • Family oriented, skeptical, care equally about benefits and salary, like proven technology over emerging tools, prefer mentorship to management

Millennials or Generation Y (1981-1994):

  • Grew up with technology, exposed to more vulgar media and art, usually raised by dual income parents
  • Highly socialized, tech savvy, globally minded, concerned about the future, want daily feedback, compelled to stay at a company if they are making a difference

Linksters (Born after 1994):

  • Protective parents, experience high media saturation, less segregation within their generation based on gender, race, sexuality or religion
  • Close family ties, confident, happy, team players, tolerant of other lifestyles, not mindful of security or the difference between a professional and personal tool

Obviously, these generalizations are rooted in something, but the key to working with other generations is to ignore preconceived ideas.

Our project’s findings completely eliminated my own presumptions. I was surprised that Traditionalists are eager to learn new technologies. And why not – they experienced the first home telephone, subway, television, dishwasher and more. I was equally surprised to find that Gen X’ers are most likely to job hop.

The worklpace is changing (photo by Startup Stock Photos)

The workplace is changing (photo by Startup Stock Photos)

However, even these facts need to be taken with a grain of salt. If you hire a Gen X manager, for example, don’t immediately begin worrying that he or she is already looking for their next role.

Here are some tips for making the most of your cross-generational team:

  1. Think of your team as a team, not generations. In ticketed entertainment, we have all five generations working in various departments. From legacy employees to interns, consider what motivates your team as a group as opposed to what motivates the different age ranges.
  2. Value responsibilities outside the workplace. Regardless of age, everyone has personal issues and responsibilities. Boomers are caring for aging parents and their children’s new families. Traditionalists may need medical tests that come with aging. Millennials have new families. All are good reasons for leaving the office, but it isn’t your business. It is good business, however, to ensure everyone can attend to their personal matters without fear or complication.
  3. Implement regular reciprocal mentoring and feedback. Different generations love to learn from each other and everyone on your team has something to contribute. Formalizing processes to encourage peer-to-peer learning is a great way to bridge the generational divide.
  4. Provide clear on-boarding for new employees and projects. Everyone deserves your attention to bring them up to speed. Overcome any hurdles and address concerns with solid organizational socialization and by holding project kick-off meetings to ensure your team functions as a cohesive unit.

This post was prepared as part of Motivating Cross Generational Teams, originally presented at Arts Reach’s 2015 Canada Conference. We will be taking this session on the road to other conferences, including the FLOAT 2015 Annual Meeting on July 13, 2015. Keep locked to our Twitter and Facebook pages for future dates as they are announced.

Micro-Moments: From Skeptic to Believer

It took just a couple of days to transform me from a micro-moments skeptic into a believer. Here’s how it happened…

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline, I saw – then clicked on – a promoted Tweet from Google AdWords (@adwords).  It read: “Micro-Moments: The New Battleground for Brands.”

I spent the next 30 minutes educating myself, but was admittedly skeptical. How dare Google – a massive digital brand – create a new self-serving business buzzword?

Fast forward a couple of days.  I was shopping for new basketball sneakers after joining a men’s league and opted to shop at a trusted brand – a larger US retailer called Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Visiting a bricks and mortar business in itself is a huge step for me. But it was a necessity because I needed to try the sneakers on before buying them.

Here’s how my customer journey unfolded:

  • Browsed the shoe department and zeroed in on a pair of basketball sneakers (no judging!).
  • Micro-moment #1: Sent a text to my brother – a basketball trainer – to ask his opinion about the brand.
  • Tried on the sneakers to see if they fit.
  • Micro-moment #2: Opened my Amazon app to check pricing (they were $30 less in store!).
  • Micro-moment #3: Read several Amazon consumer reviews.
  • Micro-moment #4: Googled the shoe to read a handful of other reviews.
  • Micro-moment #5: Googled the shoe a second time to see if any online retailers offered a better price.

Satisfied that I was getting the best price and had made a good choice, I was set to make my purchase. But before heading to the register, I did one more Google search: Dick’s Sporting Goods in-store coupons (micro-moment #6). The result was a $20 off coupon for purchases of $100 or more.


At that point, I only had $69.99 worth of merchandise in my hand. I could now get an additional $30 worth of items for only $10 more. A couple pairs of socks and a Father’s Day gift for my father-in-law later, and I was standing at the register with $107 worth of merchandise.

My customer journey – based on Google’s research – has become the norm. A highly desirable 82% of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence an in-store purchase decision.

“Mobile has forever changed the way we live, and it’s forever changed what we expect of brands. It’s fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

Think with Google@ThinkwithGoogle

The New Battleground for Brands

Micro-moments must be addressed in live entertainment. Otherwise, you risk losing the battle for the almighty dollar entirely or missing out on the opportunity to earn more money per order.

Take action by learning as much as you can about micro-moments, then map their role in your customers’ journey.

Here are five tips to help your organization win with micro-moments:

1. Identify your organization’s micro-moments. Talk to your audience! They are unique to your brand, so ask them when and how they research and make purchase decisions. Approach them in person at events, through questionnaires, surveys and focus groups. The most useful information will come directly from YOUR customers.

2. Deliver the right message. It’s not enough to participate in the micro-moment. Add value by providing relevant content that answers questions or seals the deal to purchase. Having a thorough understanding of terms being searched and the questions being asked will give you the edge.

3. Right place, right time. Your customers consume content on different devices while researching a purchase. Take a holistic, cross-channel approach that includes highly relevant landing pages, SEO, videos, blog posts and more. This will help transition your audience seamlessly from exploration to transaction.

4. Make the sale. Every time. The crucial step from research to purchase must be your focus. Remove all roadblocks related to the transaction – from reducing the number of clicks to optimizing the experience across all devices – in order to make the sale every time.

5. Test and measure. Once you’ve established your micro-moments strategy, test and measure using a cadence that is comfortable for your organization. The only way to get better is to make data-driven decisions, and then to continue to tweak your strategy based on results.

Want to know more about micro-moments and how they can create connections and impact the path to consumer purchases? Ask me!

Coffee And Doughnuts To Start Your Day? Try Some Pie (Charts) Instead.

Quick question for you. When you get to work, what is the first thing you do? If it’s to check your email, you’re not alone. The majority of business and organizational leaders look at their inbox before they do anything else, which isn’t always the most productive way to start your day according to Forbes.

I’m here to suggest an alternative if the “don’t check your email first thing” advice isn’t realistic for you.

Instead, make a dashboard of your business – it’s a better way to kick off your day.

Think about it. How can you make time to be an effective leader if you are consumed with your own inbox?

Here are some tips to help you become a more effective leader — one who considers the success of his or her organization over what happens to be piling up in the inbox:

Introduce Key Performance Indicators

If your organization isn’t measuring success based on a handful of key performance indicators (KPI), stop what you are doing and work to define them immediately. I won’t spend time focusing on organizational KPIs, as I’m sure your Board of Directors and executive leadership have this covered.

As you go down a level in your organization, however, things may get a bit murky.

Each department within your organization should govern their teams with a set of KPIs. For example, sales, marketing, operations and the box office should all have a set of KPIs that are known and understood by all members of the team.

These are some sales and marketing KPIs that you may be familiar with:

    • Total sales – how much are you selling across all products and all channels?
    • Average order value – are you working to improve or present your offerings so event goers are spending more money per order?
    • Revenue per attendee – are event goers spending more money over time?
    • Total attendance – are your venues filling up?
    • Unsold inventory value – what is the overall value of unsold, and now expired, inventory?
    • New customers – how many new customers are you bringing in
    • Repeat customers – is your organization retaining existing customers?

While other groups, like fundraising, may use a different set of KPIs, identifying the right goals for each department in your organization is critical.  Meeting and reviewing these metrics regularly to ensure alignment with your organizational goals is also essential.

Introduce Forecasting

Once you have settled on KPIs to measure and track, you must work with your team to introduce the most critical element: forecasting. This will give you the best possible chance to impact the outcome of your initial plan.

Consider this: if your marketing director is forecasting ticket sales revenue and predicts a huge gap compared to your budget, you’ll have time to get proactive and do something about it.

If there is no forecast for ticket sales revenue, then everything just plays out.  This is similar to just crossing your fingers.

Alternatively, if your marketing director forecasts a huge increase in ticket sales, you can increase staff to prepare for a bigger audience, reduce discounted group sales inventory or invest in something to help make that event even better.

Forecasting is an art, but it’s one of the most important tools you can give to your organization.

Invest in Technology

While this may sound great, you can’t be chasing down metrics and sales numbers all the time. Instead, find a way to effectively centralize your KPIs so your team can focus on the art of forecasting. Just as you invest in other areas of your business, this is one area you simply cannot afford to ignore.

Before you invest, however, determine what the KPIs are for your organization. Having a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish as an organization will make an audit of your current technology solutions a much easier and more exciting process.

So the next time you fire up your laptop in the morning or check your phone on the way to work, think about where your time is best spent and how you are going to make that a reality. You’ll be glad that you are focused on the right things for your business.


Earn More Money Per Order


Ever been asked if you’d like fries with your burger?  To upsize your drink?  A muffin with your coffee?  If you are nodding your head as you read this …I’m not surprised!

According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% versus 5-20% for a new prospect.

The goal is to make more money per order by introducing consumers to new, additional, better or complementary products.  Doing so adds value for the industry and its end customers.

Upselling and cross-selling can work for any type of business – whether you are a brand, big box store, theater company, venue, sports team or university.


So what is the difference between an upsell and cross-sell?

An upsell is to get the customer to spend more money – buy a more expensive model of the same type of product, or add features / warranties that relate to the product in question.  For an events or entertainment organization, examples include:

  • Better seats
  • Memberships
  • Season subscriptions

A cross-sell is to get the customer to spend more money buy adding more products from other categories than the product being viewed or purchased – so in the case of the zoo, something different than admission tickets.  Examples include:

  • Parking
  • Drink tickets
  • Donations
  • Merchandise

Three Big Benefits of Upselling and Cross-Selling

  •  The ability to generate growth by increasing the dollar value or profitability of an order while using the same sales resources. According to research reported by eConsultancy, upselling can drive over 4% of sales and cross-selling on the check-out page can drive sales by a further 3%. The extra revenue could be put towards new customer acquisitions, which will grow your business even more.
  • Increasing customer satisfaction. Targeted upselling or cross-selling is helpful because you are suggesting a purchase that the customer likely already wants. It’s like offering a shirt or tie that goes well with a suit someone has already purchased. Considering that Bain & Company famously wrote that it costs six to seven times more to acquire a new customer versus retaining an existing one, keeping everyone happy is key.
  • Enhancing relationships through items like memberships and season tickets. These types of sticky offers bring customers back and you can build more personal relationships.  In dollars and cents, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase, according to the White House Office of ConsumerAffairs.


  • Do collect data consistently across your organization
  • Do use data to drive personalized offers
  • Do clearly demonstrate value


  • Don’t make the same offer to everyone
  • Don’t overdo it
  • Don’t display unrelated offers


How can you get started with presenting your customers the “Right Offers at the Right Time”?

NOTE. The Tuacahn Amphitheatre does a great job, showcasing everything from merchandise, pre-show dinners, concessions and gift certificates on its main home page.

Other times to consider:

  • When a customer selects tickets or items to add to the shopping cart.
  • When a customer views his or her cart.
  • Post sale, in email confirmations and/or other marketing materials you send between the purchase and delivery or attendance at the event.


Help make customers happy while increasing business revenue and retention! If you don’t have upselling and cross-selling incorporated into your sales plan, now is the time to get started. Have questions? Ask us!



Russell Ashby, an AudienceView Product Manager, was looking for places to take his young daughter after moving to Bristol, UK.  He and his wife decided on the zoo.

So, Russell went online to look at prices.  If they bought a membership within a week, their admission would be refunded.  And, their membership would pay for itself after only three visits.

This upsell worked on Russell, he bought the membership immediately after visiting the zoo.

Why was this upsell successful?

  • Good timing.
  • Clearly defined consumer benefit.

There are also benefits for the zoo.

If Russell and his family use their membership, they’ll likely make purchases while they are on site.  If not, the zoo still benefits because Russell still purchased a membership instead of a single admission

14 NACDA Networking Tips

This blog post is authored by Trip Durham, NACMA Past President and Founder and CEO of 2D Consulting, LLC. Trip can be reached at and followed on Twitter @2DConsultingLLC.

Hi, I’m Trip. Nice to meet you.

On Saturday, June 13 you will pack your bags, readying yourself to attend the annual National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) convention. You’ll have your professional clothing, your casual gear, and a full stack of business cards.

These are the items you will physically take with you to Orlando. There are also things you should carry with you, mentally, that will prepare you for seventy-two of the most important hours of your entire calendar. This yearly gathering of the best and brightest in the industry (you included) is an opportunity for you to grow, to learn, and to advance your skills

There is much to consider as you jump into your car or onto a plane. Whether this is your first time attending NACDA or your fifteenth, there is sage advice that friends of mine and colleagues who I admire would like to offer you. Below are words of wisdom from folks you are likely to pass in the hallways of the Orlando World Center Marriott next week.


“It’s 70% of who you know, 20% of who knows you, and 10% of what you know.”
– Craig Pintens, Sr. Assoc. AD for Marketing and Public Relations, University of Oregon

“Be memorable and approachable. I wear loud pants and crazy hats and they are conversation starters with people that I might do business with. Now, does that work to become the next ‘athletic director’? Don’t know. But wear a bow tie or do something that makes you stand out. If you wear khakis and your school polo, you’re going to just blend in.”
– Zac LogsdonOwner and CEO of Old Hat Creative and Old Hat Sports Branding

“As valuable as networking is perceived, you still need to invest in yourself with hard work, learning, and making yourself indispensable.”
– Tariq Ahmad, Social Media Business Manager for IBM and Social Media Adjunct Professor. Founder #smsports, host #smsportschat 

“Your network is one of your most valuable life resources, it is not mutually exclusive to business. You never know how the paths of those you have worked with and those you have had connected with in your personal life will cross down the road. Respect and gratitude go a very long way. We live in a “small world,” so it’s important to remember to always do your best, view every experience as an opportunity to learn something new and never lose sight of where you began on your journey.
– Amber Lilyestrom, Branding Strategist + Business Coach (former NACMA Board Member and Assoc. AD for Marketing at Univ. of New Hampshire)

“The key to successful networking is being genuine and investing in building lifelong, fruitful relationships with other industry professionals. Take time to do your homework, find and leverage personal connections, and have an invested interest in the lives and careers of others. Set aside 20 minutes each day to regularly check-in with mentors, former colleagues and key contacts, actively connect friends with related needs and interests, and consider ways to demonstrate thought leadership via a blog, website, or social media.”
Brian Gainor, Director of Global Sports & Entertainment Consulting at GMR Marketing

“Always be interested in the person you are talking to. Ask how you can help them. Find out something about them that is personal. If you only care about what you get, you’ll likely end up with nothing. But helping others can pay off with a great friendship or relationship and you never know what might happen when you are there for someone else.”
Troy Kirby, Director of Ticket Operations at UC Davis

“It’s no coincidence that social channels are called “networks”.  Face-to-face communication is invaluable, but connecting online can help bridge you with peers in your industry or thought leaders and organizations that may set an example for you to learn from. The network you build (in person or via social media) will be willing to collaborate and share with you, so remember that it’s important to add value in your social conversation. Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Broaden your network by extending your personal brand to the social side.”
– Katie Cavender, Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Communications, Mountain West Conference

“Social Media can be a great way to begin to network.  It is a great way to get a feel for someone and a great way to share information about yourself, even though it’s not ‘face-to-face’. I’m surprised at how many of the professional relationships that I have now have started through Twitter interaction.  The key, though, is to be genuine.  Be genuinely interested in the folks that you meet and be genuine in how you portray who you are. This approach will help you determine whether this relationship can really be mutually beneficial or not.  Make no mistake; every worthwhile relationship is beneficial to both parties.”
– Jim Abbott, Athletic Director, Oklahoma City University (NAIA) 

“Handwritten notes are a lost art. I send a hand written thank you note after every demo or sales meeting I have.  It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re willing to invest in the relationship and differentiates you from others.”
– Kevin BarefootDirector of Sales and Marketing, WinAD

One of my most successful networking strategies is to connect with people online before an event. If you already have a relationship online it makes it even easier to engage in a conversation at an event in real life. Rather than feeling nervous, anxious or wondering what to say, you will already know a bit about each other based on conversations you might have had on Twitter. As an example, when I meet folks from Twitter in real life, they already know I went to three Pac-12 schools, like sports, marketing and Chipotle. It might be little things but it’s a starting point for a conversation that breaks the ice and can lead to a more meaningful relationship.”
– Christopher Lee,“Sportsologist” and Professor, Marketing in Sport and Recreation, Temple University

“’Networking’ is a pretty fuzzy, catch-all term, that carries with it some baggage. As an executive recruiter, when I think of networking these days, I view it through the lens of “emotional intelligence”. Specifically, I think the manner in which someone attempts to network with others provides a window into their emotional intelligence. That can be a good or bad thing for them; good if they communicate in a way that expresses high self-awareness, professionalism and likability, bad if the opposite. I can’t count the number of times someone has tried to “network” with me by asking how I can help them, before developing any rapport or common ground. The people I know that are good networkers are a pleasure to spend time with. They are authentic, unselfish, and think long-term about relationships.”
– Jeff Yocom, Founder & President, Marquee Search Inc.; Sports & Entertainment Executive Recruiter 

“I am a big believer in Bob Beaudine’s Power of Who. You must really build mutually beneficial relationships and help people who can in turn connect you with others who can open doors for you.  But keep in mind it is all about reciprocity – be a giver as well as a taker.”
– Dr.  Bill Sutton, Founding Director, Sport & Entertainment MBA/MS Graduate Program, University of South Florida & Principal, Bill Sutton & Associates

“Keep the conversation two-sided.  You won’t learn anything if one person does all the talking.  Answer questions openly and honestly, but also ask the right questions to get the other person telling their story.  I find I get a lot of great information both from the things we have in common and the things we don’t.”
– Heather McLaren, Relationship Manager at AudienceView

“Always be networking. You never know who you will run into or who people know. Be genuine, honest and sincere. Remember, the key is to develop solid, long-term relationships built on trust.”
– Kathryn Chappetto, Director, Partnership Strategy at Women’s Tennis Association

Please visit AudienceView at booth #104 in the NACDA exhibit hall on June 14-15, 2015 and follow the conversation on Twitter via @audienceview and #NACDA15, the official conference hashtag.

6 Ways to Improve Your Gameday Experience

Gameday is special and unforgettable. It’s a chance to forget the real world and watch something amazing unfold – whether you’re at the game or cheering from your couch.

Schools, teams and organizations put unbelievable focus and energy into creating an unforgettable gameday experience, doing everything they can to ensure fans have a great time and choose to return.

From college athletics in the U.S. to football in the UK and Formula One racing in Asia, AudienceView helps our customers around the world create even more memorable gameday experiences.

Here are six tips to incorporate into your business:

1. Always prepare for the win.

Go into each gameday assuming a win or a new record.

Then, plan accordingly to optimize the success you can create for your business. Think of your team like a stock – sell high!

Here are some ideas:

  • Position photographers to capture commercially fruitful moments.
  • Be prepared with a campaign to first-time attendees who just witnessed something amazing.
  • Offer a framed photo of students rushing the court as people are driving home from the game.

2. Run a targeted campaign on gameday, when fans’ emotions are high.

The 40-something father experiences a game much differently than a recent, 20-something graduate. But they both love your team. Use that to your advantage, but speak to them differently.

Run targeted campaigns – not the same offer to your entire fan base. Whether you solicit donations, offer tickets to the next event or try to increase kid’s club registrations, make sure you have something for everyone.

3. Treat people differently. Treat individuals the same.

Are you making sure your key fans and donors have the same experience through each touch point on gameday? Is your staff equipped with this knowledge?

From the ticket office to ushers, concessions to parking lots, your fans don’t see different departments as separate entities.

Do your best to see fans as the same individual whether they are buying a ticket, a hot dog, a parking pass or simply entering the stadium.

4. Collect data. Store it in one place.

Whether you are collecting raffle entries, summer camp interest, guest services issues or providing free Wi-Fi for fans, think of data as a currency and find a way to capture it efficiently. Once you have the data, make sure it lives in one place where it can be used effectively.

Get it. Store it. Use it. Pretty simple.

5. Expand your definition of when gameday starts and ends.

The journey for a fan begins when they’ve decided to attend or watch the game. Does your engagement with fans match up with their growing anticipation as gameday approaches?

Whether they are figuring out what to cook at the tailgate, what merchandise to wear or how they will get to the stadium, be there to make their gameday experience even stronger.

6. Increase average spend.

Move away from the macro approach to revenue growth and go micro!

If each fan in a 70,000-seat stadium spends $5 more on gameday, that’s $350,000 in additional gross revenue.

Work through the first five items on this list and you’ll be on your way:

  • Prepare and capitalize on winning.
  • Be targeted in your ask.
  • Reproduce the catered experience for all touch points with a key fan.
  • Collect more data and find ways to use it more efficiently.
  • Start gameday earlier, allowing more time to increase fan spending.

Implement these behaviors within your organization and you’ll find gameday becomes much more profitable.

Good luck!


The Importance of Volunteers – Your Best Customers

This week in North America, non-profits are celebrating National Volunteer Week with those who give up their time to contribute to their organizations.

Like many people, I am a regular volunteer for causes I care about and have had the pleasure of going to a couple parties this week in celebration of National Volunteer Week.

I like volunteering.

It’s a fun way to get out and meet new people and usually the benefits of volunteering go beyond whatever compensation you get from doing so.

When I speak of compensation, I don’t mean money, but the ancillary benefits you get by doing a shift. I volunteer every week for a community dinner program and they feed their volunteers. I give my time as an usher to a non-profit theater and they give us free tickets.

Most non-profits will give something on top of the opportunity to volunteer in exchange for your time, whether as a measure to attract volunteers or because they really want to show their appreciation, but volunteers around the world can certainly agree that being appreciated is the best compensation you can receive, especially because they usually have a huge affinity to the organization itself and love to feel like they are an important part of the team.

Non-profits in the arts and sports are highly dependent on volunteers. Whether there’s a need for someone to man the merchandise table at a theater, a team of people to sell 50/50 tickets at a sports game or someone to come in and do some filing for the accounting department at an arts organization, non-profits in our industry would not be able to function without volunteers.

Many organizations realize this and treat their volunteers well, but it definitely is a unique relationship and likely not optimized for either party. Volunteers are part of a non-profit’s workforce and it is tricky to manage their growth and development or, even more difficult, their termination, since they are not paid.

Anyone who has had to fire a key volunteer knows how hard it can be to let someone go. Not only is it tough because you know they’ll be hard to replace, but it’s stressful because volunteers are your most passionate audience and you know you may drastically change their opinion of something they hold so dear to their heart.

In fact, an often forgotten idea when it comes to volunteers is that they are customers. In fact, they’re your best customers.

These people love your organization so much that they are willing to work for free! No wonder they deserve an entire week of celebration.

It makes a lot of organizations uncomfortable to think of their volunteers as customers, even though they can be your most lucrative.

Many non-profits will ignore marketing to their volunteers, other than for continuing their commitment of time to the organization.

Organizations may feel guilty and think that they ask enough from their volunteers and wouldn’t dream of asking them to spend money with their organization, so they exclude them from marketing activities. However, volunteers are likely to be your most profitable donors, your biggest spenders as customers and your champions for peer-to-peer marketing.

Thank you Volunteers Because these people love you enough to give up time to your
organization, they clearly want to be connected to you in any way possible. Volunteers may want appreciation for their time, but they also want you to validate their love for your brand. Asking for a donation – small or large – is likely to yield huge results because these individuals want to see your organization succeed. They see all the benefits donors get and they want to be part of this club – but are you inviting them to do so?

The same principle can be applied to your sales. Although someone gets a free ticket to see your event, if you drilled down to find out their motives for volunteering, very few would say they do so for a complimentary seat. They do so to give back and feel connected.

Marketing to volunteers for anything from merchandise to special event tickets to exclusive volunteer opportunities can bring you incremental revenue. While it may sound strange to market a season subscription to your volunteers who come to every performance and work as ushers, you’d be surprised at how many would likely buy a subscription to enjoy your events as a customer instead of a volunteer (but still continue their commitment as a volunteer because they love you). They want to enjoy the show and may like a night off from working at an event to just sit back, relax and enjoy the experience.

Volunteers take great pride in their connection to the organization and marketing anything to them that allows them to celebrate their involvement is likely to be a hit. Whether it’s an exclusive behind-the-scenes party for volunteers that has a nominal admission fee or merchandise that you can only buy as a volunteer (say a coffee mug or key chain), volunteers are likely to buy enough of these items that they’d sell out (I know I would).

Finally, volunteers can offer valuable feedback and free marketing for your organization. Volunteers want to talk about giving back and the organizations they give back to. They are your best source for peer-to-peer promotions. They can be a great source of free market research when it comes to testing a new strategy out for your organization. They are your brand champions and your consumer tribe and they want to help your organization as much as they can. They will be candid with you when providing feedback.

But for all these items, volunteers need to be asked to take action. Because of your pre-existing relationship with these individuals, they may feel awkward making a purchase or donation on their own without being invited to do so. It’s hard to do the first time, but the key to a successful relationship with your volunteers is asking them to increase their involvement. They don’t want to overstep their role as a volunteer, but they definitely want to expand on their relationship with you.

Your volunteers are your best customers. Obviously you need to be strategic in your marketing pursuits when reaching out to volunteers, but don’t forget that they want to be involved with your organization and support it in any way they can. They might like getting that free ticket, but they will give you a lot more if you just ask them to.


Crowdsourcing – 17 Networking Tips

The convenience of technology has changed the way we interact with each other, both professionally and personally. Our mobile data plans are far more important than the number of minutes we have each month. Most of us spend much more time emailing, texting, Tweeting and ‘liking’ than we do chatting on the phone or in person.

At the same time, workplaces are facing shrinking travel and professional development budgets, which restrict the number of conferences and industry networking events we can attend each year.

This can mean less face-to-face contact, which is where the greatest opportunity to make a deeper connection with people lies.

The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the importance of networking. It’s critical on a professional and personal level.  And it’s a skill – like any other – that needs to be performed on a regular basis to see benefits and improvement.

In advance of AVConnect 2015, AudienceView’s annual North American users conference, I’ve crowdsourced some valuable networking tips from people in my network. They come from current colleagues, industry peers, friends I’ve connected with on Twitter and people from my ‘past lives.’

After collecting these tips, six themes bubbled to the surface:

  1. Be prepared.
  2. Be genuine, honest and sincere.
  3. Listen more, talk less.
  4. Add value to the relationship.
  5. Make deeper, more personal connections.
  6. Have a system that tracks your interactions (notes on business cards, spreadsheet, etc.).

Valuable Networking Tips

“I really believe that you can find a shared experience with anyone at any event. It can be an activity such as sharing a drink, a moment such as sharing a laugh, or an interest such as baseball. Always be authentic and natural and don’t be afraid to approach first, often people are uncomfortable at these types of events and appreciate you starting the conversation.”
– Genevieve Jacques, Director of Customer Services at AudienceView

“The key to successful networking is building authentic relationships. Find a personal connection you both have, like a love for social media or the Indianapolis Colts, and go from there. Whether you’re interacting with someone in the real or digital world, by simply creating that relationship people will be more prone to help you.”
– Kacy Capobres, Social Media Director at Moorehead Communications

“Professional networking is about finding genuine connections. I try to learn more about someone’s life beyond work until we find something shared between us. People remember each other when they think of the non-professional connections you share whether it is being from same hometown, sharing in sleepless night of having young kids – or finding passion in the same hobby or sports team.”
Garry Golden, Academically Trained Futurist

“Have a purpose.  When participating in a meeting or event, imagine, in advance, what you want to learn and who holds that knowledge. Once you’re at the event identify those people, briefly introduce yourself, then ask them to share what they’ve learned. Use open ended questions starting with ‘what’ or ‘how’ to get them engaged, then enjoy the conversation!”
– Jena Hoffman, President & CEO at International Ticketing Association (INTIX)

Jena Hoffman (middle) poses for a photo at the 2015 INTIX Annual Conference (photo credit: INTIX)

Jena Hoffman (middle) poses for a photo at the 2015 INTIX Annual Conference (photo credit: INTIX)

“When networking, remember to think about ways to add value to a relationship. It’s not just about collecting names for your LinkedIn connections. Listen closely and consider multiple ways you can help that person now or in the future. Share good content, make introductions, and ultimately become someone they appreciate and trust.”
Russell Scibetti, Vice President of Product Strategy at KORE Software and Sports Business Blogger

“Networking is about building relationships and the best way to start off on the right foot is by being yourself. Treat your new connections like you would treat your own friendships and build genuine rapport. Ask thoughtful questions not only to get to know someone, but to understand how you can help them. Keep in mind that you may not be able to help someone directly, but you probably know someone in your network that can. It’s not only about growing your own network, but sharing yours as well. Finally, if you’ve had a great conversation with someone, follow up after the event and stay in touch! Networking is all about developing and maintaining relationships.”
– Melissa Raquid, Manager, Human Resources & Recruiting at AudienceView

“Don’t beg for a Twitter follow. Interact and engage with others in a meaningful way and the ‘networking’ will take care of itself.”
Eli Langer, Social Media Producer at CNBC

“Bring business cards with you! Set a goal to hand out a number of cards to people who you have never met. If you still have the business cards at the end of the conference, you haven’t talked enough to people outside your existing network.”
Sara Chebishev, Relationship Manager at AudienceView

Sara Chebishev (middle) shares a moment with Ashley Casale (left) and Katie Engle in Denver.

Sara Chebishev (middle) shares a moment with Ashley Casale (left) and Katie Engle in Denver.

“Always be interested in the person you are talking to. Ask how you can help them. Find out something about them that is personal. If you only care about what you get, you’ll likely end up with nothing. But helping others can pay off with a great friendship or relationship and you never know what might happen when you are there for someone else.”
Troy Kirby, Director of Ticket Operations at UC Davis

“My mantra on networking is… when in-person networking, ask people something they normally wouldn’t be asked – go deeper right away and see what happens. When reaching out to people to network, let them know clearly you’re intentions on the first contact. People don’t respond to, “I’d like to connect,” as much as they respond to something like, “I am very interested in the way you have done recent projects and want to see if any of it is translatable into my business.”
Andrew Foxwell, Co-Founder and CEO at Foxwell Digital

“I hate the word networking as it implies that you want something. I prefer to think of it as an engagement between two people and just having a conversation. To me it is an opportunity to give and in the giving I always get something back. I try to make the moment meaningful and authentic by being myself. I look people in the eyes and I actually try to spend more time listening than talking. I try to go outside my industry and to never ever consider someone irrelevant but rather to look for the similarities versus the differences. Bottom line, I try to always MEAN IT and in that I also must nurture and care for my relationships and my contacts.”
– Maureen Andersen, Vice President of Arts & Entertainment at AudienceView

“Make sure to record two to three things you touched on with any new contacts and get their business card. A week later, send a note mentioning specifics in the conversation, then follow it all up with a LinkedIn invite.”
April Moon, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager at The Canadian Stage Company

Maureen Andersen, April Moon and Amy Constantine Kline at an INTIX networking event (photo credit: INTIX)

Maureen Andersen, April Moon and Amy Constantine Kline at an INTIX networking event (photo credit: INTIX)

“I am a big believer in Bob Beaudine’s Power of Who. You must really build mutually beneficial relationships and help people who can in turn connect you with others who can open doors for you.  But keep in mind it is all about reciprocity – be a giver as well as a taker.”
Dr.  Bill Sutton, Founding Director, Sport & Entertainment MBA//MS Graduate Program, University of South Florida & Principal, Bill Sutton & Associates

“Keep the conversation two-sided.  You won’t learn anything if one person does all the talking.  Answer questions openly and honestly, but also ask the right questions to get the other person telling their story.  I find I get a lot of great information both from the things we have in common and the things we don’t.”
Heather McLaren, Relationship Manager at AudienceView

“Always be networking. You never know who you will run into or who people know. Be genuine, honest and sincere. Remember, the key is to develop solid, long-term relationships built on trust.”
Kathryn Chappetto, Director, Partnership Strategy at Women’s Tennis Association

“To expand your network, get involved in activities outside of work. Joining a charity is the best way to meet C-level executives because most established charity boards recruit these kinds of professionals. Once you’ve made a connection, always follow up and let them know how nice it was to meet them. And then catalogue all your contacts and make notes about them – spouses name, number of kids, interests, etc. Finally, stick your neck out – no one is ever going to meet you if you don’t extend your hand.”
Michael Burns, Vice President, Corporate Development at AudienceView

One More

With all this valuable advice, I’d like to leave you with one last tip – my own:

Don’t wait until you need something to reach out to your network. When you don’t need anything at all and just want to say hello, the email, phone call or Facebook message is always very well received. I encourage you to interact with five people in your network each month and just ask them how life’s treating them. It will make them feel good and will keep you well connected.

Do you have some powerful networking advice to share? If so, I’d love to hear it and to hear from you – email me, send me a tweet (@nickbegley) and connect with me on LinkedIn.

One-on-One: Thom Morgan, Director of IT, American Conservatory Theater

Small organizations can make huge decisions. When American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), San Francisco’s premiere non-profit theater company, made the move to AudienceView, realizing new revenues and controlling ticket fees were key objectives. After two years on AudienceView, it was clear A.C.T. had made the right choice. We talked with Thom Morgan about the organization’s decision and how controlling fees has opened up so many choices for A.C.T.

AV: You came to AudienceView from a software vendor that forced ticket fees. How did that impact your ability to manage your service experience?

Thom: The problem with our previous ticketing provider is that they took a cut of the fees for online transactions because it’s how they made their money. This limited our options. For example, if we had an event in the theater that was entirely free, it was actually costing us money. We couldn’t charge the customer anything, but we paid a fee for all the comp tickets that were reserved on the Internet. In addition, we do Young Conservatory and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) program shows in addition to our main stage productions. In cases where we didn’t want to charge very much, we were still paying a fee for tickets sold online and, in many cases, we collected no actual income. What we collected just covered the ticketing fee.

AV: When A.C.T. did the return on investment analysis with AudienceView, how did it incorporate controlling and keeping 100% of your fee revenue into the analysis?

Thom: It played a large part in our decision. We were keenly aware that A.C.T. was going to keep the entirety of all fees and that, instead of a percentage, we were going to collect 100% of the fees. This was a huge selling point. AudienceView also gave us more flexibility in delivery methods and an ability to manage fees in various ways.

AV: How long did it take for you to recoup your investment?

Thom: In a strictly dollars sense, the investment was recouped rather quickly.

AV: When moving to AudienceView, you could have removed fees altogether. How did you approach ticket fees once you gained 100% control over those decisions?

Thom: Initially we transferred the same framework to AudienceView. If the ticket fee was $1.50 for a $15.00 ticket with our previous provider, it was $1.50 on a $15.00 ticket in AudienceView. As we became more comfortable with the AudienceView system, we created more subsets so the fees were more fair to the patron across all price levels. We didn’t have much granularity in the fee structure with our previous provider – now we do, and that ability to really narrow down price points and fees is incredibly useful. For example, with AudienceView, we are able to adjust fees by price and also whether the patron paid full price or was offered a promotional price. This control and flexibility over our fees, together with subscriptions features, the ability to change prices on the fly and other tools we use in AudienceView, have made our ability to meet our goals much stronger. We are not nearly as nervous about numbers as we once were.

AV: In the past, you could point the finger at the software vendor for the fees being charged. Now, you take the ownership of this choice. How are you handling this and are your customers more or less willing to pay fees?

Thom: Customers understand that there are going to be fees. As long as you don’t take advantage of that, they are fairly accepting of the idea. That said, we do offer our patrons a couple of ways to avoid paying fees. Subscribers don’t pay any fees on any additional tickets they buy. Once they pay their subscription order fee, they could purchase 500 tickets over the course of the year and not pay even a dollar more in fees. We also offer patrons the option of not paying fees if they come down and purchase tickets at the box office window. With many options in fees and delivery methods at our disposal, we are offering our customer options, and rewarding the customer behavior that we appreciate most. AudienceView allows us to make these choices.

AV: When organizations like A.C.T. research software vendors, they usually do a cost analysis. What advice would you give an organization looking to do this analysis?

Thom: You really have to look at the overall cost of the system – not just what the software costs, but also the overall costs and additional revenue that you would generate through incremental gains in fees, ticket prices, upsells and add-ons. For example, with the other system we were considering when we selected AudienceView, we felt we would have had to hire more people. At that time, which was still in the depths of the recession, this was not an option. We also thought the other software was prohibitively expensive and that any benefits it might offer wouldn’t outweigh the additional cost.


One-on-One: David Cushing, VP – Ticketing at SHN

David Cushing, VP of Ticketing, SHN

David Cushing, VP of Ticketing, SHN

Based in San Francisco, Shorenstein Hays Nederlander (SHN) is a market-leading theatrical entertainment organization that brought its ticketing operations and e-commerce in-house when it moved to AudienceView in 2010. Since then, David Cushing and his team have had complete control over pricing strategy, fees and all related revenue sources. We spoke with David to get some insight into the difference this control has made for SHN and how it aligns with their organizational goals.

AV: When SHN moved to AudienceView, one of the main drivers was to be able to control your pricing strategy and structure. What made SHN decide to take control?

David: One of the main drivers was to get everything back in-house, under our own control, across the board and that included our customers. We really wanted to customize customer service because previous to 2010, which is when we came over to AudienceView, the focus on customer service had kind of gone by the wayside, not only in the ticketing industry but pretty much across the board in many, many businesses. SHN has been able to develop pricing that is more customer-friendly and allows staff to focus on customer service. The flexibility to take a whole new approach in this area allows SHN to cover costs, but it also creates a revenue stream for us to provide deeper, more engaged, proactive service to our customers. The process that brought SHN to AudienceView involved establishing why we charge service fees, how this is communicated to the customer and how it impacts SHN’s bottom line.

AV: What was SHN’s final deciding factor to go with AudienceView?

David: We liked the product. We especially liked the people. One of the things for us, and I think for any good business decision, is you’re not only looking at what the company has to offer you. You’re also looking at the mindset and culture of the company because you are creating a new relationship. While we wanted to have flexibility and functionality within the product, we also wanted to be with people that we respected and wanted to partner with.

AV: How do you determine what fees to charge on your tickets?

David: First, we establish what SHN needs to support its operation. Then, we consider what is fair to the customer. Finally, we research the broader market to arrive at the per-ticket fee.

AV: How do you think your customers view the per-ticket fee? Do you get the sense that it is something they’ve accepted like we do with airline fees and baggage charges?

David: For a long time, with the airline industry too, fees were add-ons. There was a lot of customer frustration because by the time they got to checkout, suddenly their ticket cost had increased. We only charge a per-ticket and a per-order fee. We don’t charge for print-at-home. We don’t charge for will-call. We wanted to eliminate a lot of those add-ons that we saw in other providers.

In October of 2012, SHN began blending the per-ticket fee into the stated ticket price for single ticket purchases. When adding tickets to the shopping cart, the customer gets a pop up that states ‘all listed prices include a per-ticket fee’, so it’s front-facing to the customer. SHN’s buyers now understand that stated prices include the service fee. I think that’s been great for customers and certainly clarifies our messaging to them.

AV: SHN is taking an approach that is similar to the UK with the recent ruling around the requirement to have transparency with fees. Do you see this as something that could come to North America in the future? What do you think of fee transparency?

David: I think it’s great, I do think it will happen. I think we are only one of the companies that is currently [being transparent with our fees], but I think more and more people are going to start doing it because they think transparency and openness is important to consumers.

AV: SHN has been using AudienceView for a few years now. You’ve got your ticket fee structure in place and it hasn’t changed. What would you say to an organization considering a system like AudienceView versus a different type of system? To an organization that may be hesitant to make an upfront investment?

David: Ten years ago, as a small company, it would not have been financially possible to bring our ticketing operations and service back in-house because of the mainframe that you needed just to just have a ticketing system work. Software technology evolution has totally changed that. When we decided to leave our last provider and actually explore bringing it in-house, it was because it was now financially feasible for us to do that. Now we’re fully self-sufficient, we’re not controlled by somebody else who tells us what we can or can’t do. We get to make all the decisions for our business and our customers. We are responsible for everything as far as our ticketing life is concerned. [Bringing ticketing in-house with the AudienceView partnership] has given us the flexibility to try new things and see if it works. We have a lot more ability to experiment with how we use the system and that’s challenging for us, but it’s also really exciting because we have that flexibility… [and] I do think you have to invest money to make money.

AV: I’m sure it has had a great impact on your overall customer experience as well?

David: Absolutely! Of course money and time were considerations [to bring ticketing in-house], but a real driving factor was we wanted to personally serve our customers. Before bringing this in-house with Audience View, SHN did not have a phone room in San Francisco; it was somewhere else…This distant phone room didn’t know the inner workings of our theatres and policies. Now, SHN’s staff work in physical proximity to the theatres, regularly attend shows in SHN venues and have a great feel for the experience. Therefore, the customer has a better experience because they are talking to highly trained, knowledgeable people. Again it is controlling our brand, the message and communication and that is very important to us.

AV: Thanks, David!

AudienceView Trendsetter: Catching Up with Minnesota’s Chad Rasmussen

Recognized as an innovator and early adopter, the University of Minnesota (U of M) has been an AudienceView partner since 2006.  The school uses the AudienceView solution across its entire campus, for both athletics and arts.

We recently spoke with Chad Rasmussen, Director of Sales and Service, to learn about his career, Minnesota’s ongoing success with AudienceView and why improving the overall fan experience is always a number one priority.

AV: How did you get into the ticketing business?

Chad: I’m a graduate of the University of Minnesota sports management program.  I started out as an intern with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves in fan relations.  Then, I moved to Special Olympics Minnesota – running tournaments, annual events, and various campaigns.  I became an intern in the ticket office at U of M in 2007 and wanted to make myself indispensable.  We moved into TCF Bank Stadium and I was willing to do whatever it took to stick around.  After about 18 months, a job opened up and I was hired full time in the ticket office.  Initially, I was in charge of football and men’s basketball, and then I was promoted to Director of Sales and Service.  I now oversee the entire office.

Chad RAV: What’s your favorite thing about working at Minnesota?

Chad: The culture here has a lot of energy.  It encourages people to be innovative, bold and different.  We know that ‘different’ isn’t always better, but we have the freedom to try new things and, if we fail, we’ll try it a different way or tweak it to get it right.

I think using AudienceView allows us the flexibility to try new things and be innovative, and it helps create that culture.  The ability to customize the online experience for fans with renewals, for instance, certainly makes us different and more innovative than others.

AV: You’ve been ‘paperless’ with your renewals for the last three years.  How has that impacted your office?

Chad: Well, it’s taken huge workload off us.  We’ve seen a growth in online renewal purchases and now fans expect to do it online and without paper.  They’re doing online banking and online bill payments, why not season tickets renewals?  We try to make it fun and exciting and allow them to absorb new content during the process, like an infographic on where the recruits are from [geographically], or the makeup of the team, or different videos featuring players. allows us to put content out there that entices them to purchase merchandise along with tickets.  The whole concept makes it much easier on fans.

AV: When you talk to other schools about what you do at Minnesota with AudienceView, particularly Big Ten schools, what’s their reaction?

Chad: Other schools are amazed when we talk about various processes, renewals or the one-click purchase with merchandise.  We’ve shown them the interactive features that we have on – the videos, for instance – and how fans are consuming that content.  We show them how easy it is to set up in AudienceView and that you can control that process yourself in house.  That has been eye opening for those schools.

Then we get into the weeds and show them the automated emails the system can produce and the safety nets we’ve built to snag customers who we can tell are having problems.  Their response typically is, “Well, we can’t do that, and if we wanted to, it would take too long.”

Conversely, we’re amazed that schools don’t have control over their system.  I get a kick out of showing them the dashboard or automated reports, or how we have the ability to pick and choose what data we want to get out of the system and accessing that data right from my desk without having to call anyone and their jaws drop.  It’s fun to get that reaction.

AV: How has AudienceView changed the daily operations of the U of M ticket office?

Chad:  We use our staging environment all the time to test out different things to alter our business and we crave that kind of flexibility to have the freedom to try new things.  We don’t want to be just ok; we want to be better and strive to be the best.  AudienceView gives us the ability to be the best.  When we get stuck, we have our AudienceView colleagues to walk us through things we can’t do ourselves.  The freedom to package things ourselves – merchandise with tickets, or bundle games together to attract fans who may not be able to afford a full season tickets package – makes us better at what we do.

AV: Can you give an example of how you package or bundle items like that?

Chad: Two examples would be a VIP Package and our Week of Thanks with the Golden Gopher Fund.  With the VIP Package, we partnered with a local hotel and restaurant to offer a package that came with a game ticket, hotel room and restaurant voucher. All of this was able to be purchased in one transaction on  It was successful and very well received by our fans.

For the second package, we worked with the Golden Gopher Fund to develop a Week of Thanks where our development office wanted to offer donors access to tickets as a thank you for their gifts.  We came up with a multi-sport package with the hopes of engaging the donor base and exposing them to different sports.   Again, that was well received by our donors and we’ll likely do that again.

We had a weekend this fall when men’s and women’s hockey were both at home, but the women played on Saturday at 4pm and the men played at 7pm.  We ran a report of men’s hockey ticket purchasers and sent out an offer that provided them a free ticket to the women’s hockey game.  We allocated 600 tickets for this promotion and allowed them to go online to pick up their ticket.  We figured those people coming into town for men’s hockey were interested in the women’s team as well and we were right.   That might mean we turn a handful of them into women’s hockey fans, but at least we’re introducing them to our very successful women’s team – plus creating a better atmosphere for the women as well.

We’ve bundled other sports before [women’s volleyball and women’s hockey] and we’ve allowed fans to use their football ticket to get into women’s soccer, and promote that through our “Gopher Weekly Email” to our fan base.  AudienceView gives us the flexibility to try these kinds of things out and then track our success.

AV: You’re not a traditional ticket office, per se, and when you talk about your operation, you sound more like a marketer than someone in a box office.  Why is that?

Chad: A leadership change has led to a philosophical change in our external approach.  We rely on all departments to create a better experience for our fans. We re-branded our name from the ticket office to the Sales and Service department because we do more than just tickets. We also restructured the office with a focus on sales, service and operations.Well, that’s because we’ve decided to take a more holistic approach – it’s ticketing and so much more.  It’s about VIP packages that aren’t typically offered.  It’s about media consumption to excite people to buy tickets or renew their season tickets.  It’s about offering merchandise in the purchase flow and getting fans to buy everything Minnesota.  Fans are important whether they live here or live in California and we try to convey that in everything we do.

Mariucci ArenaAV: How has using AudienceView to manage your data transformed your business?

Chad: At the top of the list is probably the integration we have with the University of Minnesota Foundation.  We have approximately 50,000 accounts cross-referenced from AudienceView into DMS, [Minnesota’s foundation system].  The data is updated on a daily basis and we know that data is only good when it’s accurate. Inaccurate data can ruin relationships with fans. This process has allowed us to create a larger fan profile and determine who the premium and discount shoppers are and in turn go out with offers that match their tendencies.  It’s fun to go out with offers to fans and see what kind of results we get.  [For example], we wonder if fans who bought a men’s hockey ticket would be interested in an offer for a women’s hockey ticket.

The feedback from cultivating and tracking these kinds of touchpoints has been overwhelmingly positive.

AV: How has AudienceView made your life easier?

Chad: Truth be told, I have never used another system.  But I appreciate how flexible and adaptable the system is.  We can change things on the fly and have control over almost everything that impacts our business.  We use dynamic pricing and AV provides the ability to adjust pricing within a few minutes. I know other schools have trouble adjusting to the market at that speed.  We also have full control of our web content and can easily update game information or parking changes in a matter of minutes. We don’t have to call anyone to change it for us or get approval.

The ability to customize and schedule reports has been a tremendous time saver. We have multiple reports that run daily and weekly going to multiple people within the department (admin, marketing, coaches) and each report contains customized data. The Business Intelligence tool has also been a time saver as we’re able to mine data we want in minutes and no longer have to combine five or six reports to get the same data.

AV: Do you have any advice for other schools who are considering using AudienceView?

Chad: You have to ask yourself if you’re okay doing things the way they’ve always been done, or are you willing to be different and be bold to engage your fans more.  With AudienceView, you can do everything you’re used to doing and more.

AV has allowed us to customize a full shopping experience with the ability for fans to buy all they want in one place. A customer can buy or renew tickets, purchase parking or merchandise and donate in one transaction.

The ability to fully integrate with third parties has been vital to our success and is key to be successful in the future.

I think automating reporting and data mining are easy in AudienceView as well.  At the end of the day, if you’re unable to do these things with your current solution I would you say you might want to consider a new solution.

My Journey to Scotland (Part 5) – The EIF Comes to a Close

And then all of a sudden, it was the last week of the Festival!

Here at the EIF, we are continuing to have many performances each day and preparing for our final event, the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, which happens on Sunday night.  This annual closing event draws 15,000 people from all over the city and the world to celebrate and mark the end of the summer Festival season that Edinburgh is known for. The concert by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra features classical music played from Princes Street Gardens and a spectacular fireworks display from the Castle.

We at Hub Tickets and EIF have been preparing for weeks for the big closer. When we went live with AudienceView, we decided to utilize the print-at-home ticket option to allow customers to have a better experience by printing their e-tickets at home and allowing our collection lines to decrease as well.

For the Fireworks Concert, we’re planning for three different entry points at Princes Street Gardens with four scanners at each gate (shout out to fellow AudienceView users Aberdeen Performing Arts – thanks for the letting us rent the additional eight scanners).

The EIF comes to a close this weekend We are scanning at each entrance using Wi-Fi hotspots for connectivity. After successfully using this method at our in-house events at The Hub, we are looking forward to using this method on a grander scale. We are also interested in analyzing the data from our scanning – looking at the traffic flow, peak times for people entering, and using the lessons learned to see how we can improve the experience for our attendees next year. There’s a first time for everything and it will be our first experience scanning at the gates – wish us luck!

Our marketing department has been busy preparing for the final event by presenting two interactive activities for people of all ages.

The first on-going activity with the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert is the poster competition. EIF has invited budding young artists between the ages of 5 to 12 to use their imagination and create a Fireworks poster. The exhibit of the winning posters has been displayed at the Virgin Money Lounge in St Andrews Square, and the winners will be able to enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the fireworks set up at Edinburgh Castle, a workshop with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and attend the concert with their family, on the house.

Another really cool and interactive project that our marketing team has developed in concert with the Fireworks event is the Fireworks app. With the app, you can create your own fireworks display to accompany Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture by building a display before the concert and having it ignite, perfectly timed to the music of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has been out and about promoting the concert with our marketing team – check them out at Waverly train station.

The end of the Festival is near, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops! At Hub Tickets, we’re looking forward to selling tickets for the Celtic Football Club, Scottish Rugby, the Lammermuir Festival, and other events across the city and country.

We have been able to manage our many EIF events with teamwork, communication with our venues and departments in the organization, and a little caffeine doesn’t hurt either – we very much appreciated the Red Bull delivery to the office in Week 3, as it helped us maintain our stamina and carry us forward to the end of the Festival.

If you want to be part of the Fireworks from home, be sure to download the app and follow along on Twitter using #VMFireworks – the fun starts at 9:00PM GMT on Sunday.

About Caroline 

Born in Scotland, raised in South Carolina, work experience in DC, and now living in Scotland again, Caroline Martin has a passion for the arts and entertainment industry with time spent working at universities, festivals, theatres, and museums. Caroline has a BA in Art History and Music (Vocal Performance) and is completing a Masters in Nonprofit and Association Management.  A long time AV user, Caroline has had an interesting journey as part of our community that has taken her career to exciting places, which she is sharing with us over the course of the summer.  

Talking Innovation, Competitive Advantages and the Future of Digital with The Lowry’s Rachel Miller

After spending three years as Head of Ticketing for The Lowry and Quaytickets, Rachel Miller is taking on a new challenge. Promoted in June, she is now Director of Marketing and Communications for The Lowry.

In her new role, Rachel is continuing to unlock value for her organization, which has partnered with AudienceView since 2010 to manage two diverse businesses – theatre patrons at The Lowry and regional customers and clients at Quaytickets – with a single solution.

In a recent interview with AudienceView, Rachel shared her thoughts on innovation and the role data plays in the ever-increasing competition for consumer’s leisure spending. She also offers some advice to current and prospective AudienceView clients, makes a prediction about the future of digital ticketing and shares her idea of a dream vacation!

Name: Rachel Miller

Time in Entertainment Industry: 20 years

Past Organizations: Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), Live Nation

Dream Vacation Destination: The Seychelles

Why the Seychelles? Looks beautiful, it’s hot and she’s never been. “I love the sun!”

Rachel is a strong believer in innovation and the vital role it plays in all parts of an organization.The_Lowry_logo

“Without innovation, you stand still and you don’t look at things in a new way,” says Rachel. “I think innovation, creativity, entrepreneurialism – they’re all very important aspects of any team, not just a marketing team, not just ticketing, but any organization.”

The ability for organizations to examine their data in real-time and at a deeper level is also important, helping organizations control the overall customer experience, create personalized marketing programs, uncover patterns and connections, understand how customers are engaging and more. Why?

“There are a lot of things competing for people’s spend, so understanding our customer we can really start to direct the right messages to them, we can communicate with them in the right way, we can change the way we market to these people,” Rachel explains. “So rather than a blanket email, we might send five emails out for a show because we use a different language for each of the different customers. You have to really hone down into what that customer needs, what is suitable to their tastes and their requirements as a customer of the organization, and understand how they make the journey through your organization. So let’s say we’re collecting data from the restaurant, the box office, through development and as well as through learning and education. We may have known in the past that they bought a ticket to the show, but now we’re able to say they’ve also eaten with us, they’ve also engaged with us through our learning and education program, they’ve also donated or helped us from a traction perspective. Getting that whole journey, getting that whole picture of the customer really helps us with regards to maintaining a relationship and also hopefully developing a relationship.”

The Lowry and Quaytickets take great pride in their partnership approach with each of their clients. This underlying organizational style is achieving revenue growth while maintaining a personal touch. AudienceView is proud to play an active role.

Lyric Theatre at The Lowry (Photo by David Lake)

Lyric Theatre at The Lowry (Photo by David Lake)

“AudienceView have been extremely supportive of our organization and has really made huge efforts to understand our business and understand how they can support it. They are very much engaged with us, look to understand what our requirements are, look to understand where we are trying to grow our business and have really helped us with regard to how we use the solution,” says Rachel. “I always call out the fact that AudienceView is almost like a dictionary [of available features and functionality] from A to Z. We used to be at about G but I think we’re getting towards M now. There’s always going to be more that the system can do that we don’t know, so by AudienceView understanding our business and understanding our needs they can help us maximize what the system can do for us. I think that has certainly helped us with regard to growth, certainly with the number of clients because of the range of services we can offer. Probably one of the most pointed areas is the ancillary income that we’ve been able to generate also through the ticketing circles, while there’s the purchase of the ticket, add ons and all of the extra ancillary sales and purchasing data that we can do as part of that transaction.”

At Quaytickets, AudienceView “allows us to offer a white-label solution to a number of different clients, so we have upwards of 20 white-label sites. It’s a great service that we supply to our clients,” Rachel explains. “I don’t think that is something that other ticketing providers would be able to offer, that sort of flexibility.”

The Lowry and Quaytickets also place a high value on the stability of the AudienceView solution. Additionally, Rachel describes the data they can extract via Business Intelligence reports as a “huge advantage to us.”

Moving Mountains in Marketing

While it’s still early days in her new role, Rachel sees AudienceView playing an important part in helping to advance The Lowry’s marketing efforts.

Patrons at Lyric Theatre (Photo by Percy Dean)

Patrons at Lyric Theatre (Photo by Percy Dean)

“We’re going to be looking at how we are tracking customers and tracking their transactions a lot more, following the audience patterns through the advertisement or other media that gets the message out about the show through to the person making the transaction. While we use AudienceView at the moment, it’s a case of how we can use it more. I think linking up all the stuff that we are doing from a marketing perspective and seeing the results in our sales is going to be a link that will probably become much stronger.”

Rachel continues, commenting on the fact that they can track every single piece of marketing activity and see the return on investment straight away.

“Being able to add correspondence codes to all of our [marketing] activity so that we can get a return on investment is vital. Putting [codes] into as many different mediums as possible that we’re advertising to is vital. We’re also looking at high frequency and high spend, running reports to look at customer tendencies over a period of time and how those tendencies have been reflected in the amount of spend that they’ve made with the organization and what they are doing when they are here at the building.”

These reporting capabilities are, Rachel believes, critical to help grow a business. Her words of advice to new AudienceView organizations that may wonder how they’ll learn to make use of all this data and functionality? “Don’t be frightened!”

Stressing that the AudienceView user community is warm, welcoming and supportive of its industry colleagues, Rachel offers another piece of advice to current and prospective users.

“Make the very most of things like AVConnect, make the very most of the [Google] Hangouts that you have and speak to other AudienceView users because there is a lot of support…We talk to each other quite regularly, even without AudienceView initiating that, so the network of users as well as AudienceView networks, make the very most of them.”

Bringing our interview full circle, Rachel shared her thoughts on what she hopes digital will bring to the entertainment industry in the future. Beyond Facebook and Twitter, she sees it as something exciting and larger than life.

“One thing that would be lovely to move forward in the future [is] that on the front windows of buildings you’ve got a touch screen where you can look through the season’s guide, see what’s happening and purchase a ticket without even talking to somebody.”

She describes this type of future, saying “it’s big, it’s massive, it’s very impressive,” and adds that the prospect of a practical link between this type of digital initiative and making a purchase is quite exciting.

We couldn’t agree more.

Message on a Bottle

By: Nick Begley, Senior Marketing Manager at AudienceView

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I shared a Coke.

I bought a Courtney for my wife and a Nick to complete our Coke couple. Unfortunately, I’ve had no luck in my hunt for Landon or Camryn – the names of my son and daughter – so I’ll have to create personalized glass bottles online to complete my family set.

As a cynical consumer, I try to avoid campaigns that are clearly meant to suck me in and get my credit card out of my wallet. But as a marketer, I appreciate campaigns that people can connect with on multiple levels. And Share a Coke involves the consumer in a way that goes well beyond Starbucks writing my name on a coffee cup. My name is actually printed on a bottle in the iconic Coke font!

Even people who don’t intend to consume the beverage are going to the store and rifling through the fridge to find their name or that of a friend and they are sharing it with their social media followers. Although that doesn’t drive revenue for Coke, it certainly drives organic (and free) brand exposure.

Connecting with Consumers

Without a doubt, the Coca-Cola brand has done an excellent job making things personal over the last few summers (they launched this campaign in 2014) by adding first names on cans and bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and Coke Zero. They’ve likely introduced their product to new consumers and reconnected with others who may have strayed after taking the Pepsi Challenge.

It goes without saying that this is integrated marketing at its finest. There’s digital Coke sharing, videos on YouTube and worldwide tours with consumers lining up to create their own mini cans. You can read for days if you search #shareacoke on Twitter. And, there is no shortage of editorial media coverage either – people are using Share a Coke to propose or announce a pregnancy and it’s making news!

Photogenic "Share a Coke" Bottles

Seeing our own name on items – or the names of family members and friends – brings out the kid in all of us. Spinning a store display to find a keychain or bicycle license plate adorned with our moniker is a shared human experience. The Share a Coke campaign sends the message that this type of personalization, albeit automated, continues to resonate with consumers.

It’s also a good reminder for entertainment organizations to take a personal approach with their customers. Being on a first-name basis with your audience can be easily accomplished with good CRM technology and an organizational culture that stresses and supports data literacy. The cleanliness of the data that is captured – both demographic and behavioral – will then allow you to take your marketing campaigns to the next level. Create personalized relationships, know who to talk to and when, perhaps even surprise a VIP supporter with his or her favorite drink (doesn’t have to be a personalized can of Coke) at their seat on a special occasion.

As a consumer, it’s nice to get emails that start with “Hello, Nick!” – but it’s the companies that take things to that next level that really impress me.

So, what can you do to “impress” your customers?

  • Stop by the seats of loyal customers for a quick hello to show them that they’re valued.
  • Reward the most generous donors with branded SWAG in their size.
  • Offer intelligent up-sells and cross-sells based on past purchases.
  • Deliver relevant, personalized website content when customers log into their accounts.
  • Provide early access to tickets based on the value of the customer.

We all want to belong. Feel valued. Share a connection. Maybe even a Coke! But regardless of our personal beverage preferences, this engaging campaign is one that should inspire you to create amazing new experiences for your customers.

In Conversation: Derek Kwan, Executive Director, Lied Center

Derek Kwan made a big move for his new job. He also has some big ideas about the future of his new organization and the live entertainment industry as a whole.

Lied_Center_logoI am the Executive Director of the Lied Center at the University of Kansas. Before starting here earlier this year, I was VP of Concerts and Touring at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. It was my second stint there and I absolutely loved my job both times. It was so fulfilling on a number of different levels — being able to support America’s original art form and being able to work with so many different kinds of artists and collaborations. The first time I worked for Jazz at Lincoln Center I didn’t have any kids. The second time we’d had two kids, so we made a choice to relocate so we could have a more balanced life. Plus, my wife and I love college towns and Lawrence is one of the best, if not the best college town in the country in my opinion.

My first goal for the Lied Center is strengthening existing relationships with various constituents and establishing new ones. Secondly, redefining relevance in programming. We need to bring in artists who will inspire significant contributed income and also be able to fill a house, while at the same time bringing in artists who are challenging and adventurous. It’s a delicate balance there. Third, we’re making a considerable investment in video technology.

First and foremost, we are reinvigorating our partnerships and also creating new partnerships on campus and in the community. One of the new partnerships we have is with Student Union Activities on campus. We are helping to advise on different entertainment opportunities and learning about what is relevant to students in this day and age, so it’s a really mutually beneficial relationship. We’re also reigniting a relationship with one of the institutions on campus called the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning. It’s for retirees who participate in special programs that are associated with all different kinds of events in Lawrence. We are going to have a few special events associated with the Osher Institute this coming fall, surrounding appearances by the Vienna Boys Choir and the University Symphony Orchestra with the cellist Joshua Roman.

Being able to document and share stories with our constituents using video is something we feel is very effective. We are also going to install webcasting infrastructure so that we can serve as a positive resource for the university arts groups. So for instance, once the webcasting infrastructure is installed, and our timeline is by the end of the summer, we will be able to start webcasting student performances. This will help in a multitude of ways. We will be able to reach the entire world with the great performances from our students, which will also help in the recruiting process. As well, we will reach donors and family members of students who wouldn’t necessarily be able to come here to see these performances. We think this will help the university brand as a whole by getting us out there more. We are going to create mini-documentaries highlighting our education and engagement activities at the Lied Center, as there is so much more that happens beyond the stage. Our patrons know that we do engagement activities, but it is somewhat abstract since they rarely have a chance to observe them. Video documentation will provide an insider’s look into the amazingly positive effect these activities can have on both students and artists. [View mini-documentary from Derek’s time at Interlochen]

When I was at Jazz at Lincoln Center, we started webcasting every single one of our professional performances. When people heard about our plans to do this they thought we were crazy. They said, “Oh no, artists will never let you do that, it’s going to cost you too much.” But that started in the fall of 2012 and artists bought into it. They said, “You’re telling me that you’re going to webcast this to the world essentially and create a platform for me to promote myself and my own projects?” We said, “Yes, absolutely.” So building upon that webcasting idea we started to create a lot of human interest videos advocating for jazz music. What I would like to do at the Lied Center is advocate for arts education through videos. We aren’t going to webcast the professional performances because doing it on behalf of a genre is different than doing it on behalf of individual artists in many different genres, but we are going to start by showing what impact the arts can have on a student’s development. That student can be three years old in preschool or, like I was saying with the Osher Institute, it can be someone well into their retirement.


Derek Kwan believes in personal, face-to-face relationships

AudienceView plays a huge role in terms of providing us with the tools to be able to research our patrons, learn more about them and convert a single ticket buyer into a subscriber, donor, lifelong supporter and friend. I think the technology is absolutely crucial for the success of the institution. It allows us to find the people we would like to meet face-to-face and have a deeper discussion with them. It gives us the ability to identify folks’ history with us, as well as provides a good sense of where their interests may lie and what opportunities there might be to engage more deeply. At the end of the day, I think [patron engagement] really comes down to personal relationships.

I like the fact that donors are much more engaged these days in how their gifts are spent. I actually think that’s a very healthy development within the fundraising world because it calls for accountability and the only way an organization can move forward in a positive way is to have the checks and balances there to make sure that all the right questions are being asked and answered in the right manner. I really like the fact that donors are much more engaged whereas two decades ago it was just writing a check and saying okay do what you want with it. Going back to the use of video technology, if a donor isn’t here for a specific engagement or educational event and that’s what they support we are still able to show them.

In general, my personal philosophy is that the arts spur creativity and creativity, in turn, spurs innovation. And innovation, in whatever field you’re in — be it science, medicine, journalism — is what moves society forward in a positive way. I see the arts being basically the breeding ground for that.

Jazz icon Wynton Marsalis

Jazz icon Wynton Marsalis

There are so many different ways in which sports and the arts could learn from each other in terms of collaborations, in terms of teamwork, in terms of preparation, focus, rehearsals, practice prior to a performance or prior to a game, even how one mentally prepares and gets into the zone. I think there are many parallels. In fact, when I was at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Wynton Marsalis, who is the managing artistic director there, did a CBS segment with Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, and Alan Gilbert, conductor of the New York Philharmonic, about drawing parallels between being an NFL quarterback and being a conductor of a major symphony.

The non-profit performing arts world can learn a lot from professional sports teams in terms of how to create a fan or patron experience on site. That could definitely lead to revenue generation for non- profit arts organizations. Another thing we did at Jazz at Lincoln Center…we were simply following the model of sports stadiums and what Broadway had already adopted — allowing drinks into the theater. That’s something that was considered sacrilegious in some circles but it enhanced the patron experience and it brought in revenue we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

[Even with a wide-ranging demographic,] social media is integral to our outreach strategy going forward. It’s certainly changing every day, but at the same time there are a few platforms that have stood the test of time. Right now we primarily use Facebook and Twitter for our clientele. We have also invested more in targeted advertising — in certain instances for certain artists, Facebook advertising is much more effective than a traditional print ad. I think the trends are showing that there’s a more mature demographic that has adopted Facebook as a viable platform while younger demographics are using Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, etc. For different shows where we feel we will have an older demographic or a younger demographic, we just adjust the advertising accordingly.

The challenge [with smartphone use during a performance and the in-venue experience] is not alienating your core audience while trying to gain a new audience. In terms of audience development, the delicate balance is making changes or having initiatives that will attract folks who are heavy users of technology, but, at the same time, there are some very strong ideals from a core demographic from a lot of non-profit arts organizations where that is something that is considered sacrilegious. I think [it has to be considered on] a case-by-case basis and that’s why having personal relationships and trust is so important. You can have conversations with folks about this if you have the right kind of relationship with them.

Derek speaks at the 2014-2015 season announcement party

Derek speaks at the 2014-2015 season announcement party

We have a season announcement party every end of April and [for the first time] we live Tweeted it. Next to [the screen showing our video about the next season], we had a screen just as big that had captured all the hashtag #LiedKS Tweets. All of our board members and other constituents who were there were Tweeting the whole time. It was a small step towards acceptance because there were folks Tweeting who thought they would never Tweet. I think that was a first step of showing how it can create excitement and broader awareness, but it was in a safe setting in the sense that there wasn’t a formal performance going on but it was related to what we do here. In select cases, I think it could definitely work [in our venue]. For instance, there are some artists who actually encourage it. Look at pop artists, for example. While I was [Executive Director] at Interlochen we had Jason Mraz there and he said, “Everybody get your phones out, make sure you Tweet and post on Facebook.”

For non-profit organizations, I think the largest challenge is dealing with “D-I-Y,” the do-it-yourself kind of philosophy that is taking over everything, really. We’re here as an arts organization curating programming that is presented to patrons while a lot of people in this day and age just want to do things on their own and create themselves. That’s something that we, as an industry, need to figure out — a way to incorporate our patrons’ desires and artistic affinities into what we do here. I like that some bands such as Steely Dan would do an audience choice for some of their concerts. If they do a long run or a three-night run at a venue, the first night they may play one or two albums from beginning to end, the second night another album, and then the third night they do audience choice. Through voting online or through their phones, [the audience gets a say] on what the set list [should be and] what they want to hear. We need to figure out a way to make that more effective for our patrons to feel like they have more skin in the game. I remember at the Museum of Modern Art, folks were uploading podcasts with their own curatorial commentary. Obviously the museum has their own tapes where you walk around, they tell you where to go, what to do and what to look at. These podcasts became a really cool development because folks didn’t have to follow what the so-called authority wanted them to see or hear or look at. It was their peers doing it themselves and they could hear from them too. It’s like crowd sourcing in a way…and as an industry [we need to] have that balance between a curatorial experience and also incorporate crowd sourcing.

I think some symphonies have tried this as well in terms of having an audience curated night, but I am thinking from a broader standpoint too. Who do you even bring for your season? For the last 15 years I’ve always tried to say, “Let me know what artists interest you or what genres interest you or what do you think would be a cool collaboration?” I’m always having that open dialogue with folks and seeking the feedback rather than shying away from it. Whenever I go places or meet new people or have a chance to speak at a function, I always ask for their opinion. I always give out my phone number and email address. It helps too, in terms of building relationships and trust.

Thanks, Derek! We like to give out our contact details too. You can reach the AudienceView marketing and editorial team via We always welcome your questions and comments.

What Did the Fox Say?

The premise of the viral hit song “What Does the Fox Say” is, rather obviously, figuring out what the fox says. It’s a secret, ancient mystery, or so the lyrics go.

There is much less secrecy around the thoughts of Michael D. Fox, Director of Operations at Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City, Utah, one of the largest and most respected community theatres in the country. I recently had a chance to speak with Michael about his organization’s planned expansion to Sandy, Utah, the theatre’s success with AudienceView and our mutual love for delicious pie.

Name: Michael D. Fox

Years at Hale: 12

Favorite pie: Chocolate cream from Marie Callendar!

On Canada: Knows all the provinces, loves Toronto, wants to visit BC

Little Known Fact: Father spent part of his childhood in Newfoundland, Canada

HCT_Logo_Banner“We just announced a new location for an expansion, which is very exciting,” says Michael. “We are also in a record year — we have 23,600 season ticket holders this year.”

The new Hale Centre Theatre will be located in Sandy, Utah, approximately 15 minutes from the current venue and still in the greater Salt Lake Area. Expected to be up and running in several years, it will have an arena-style centre stage theater, which is the venue’s main signature. As well, one or two smaller acting spaces are in the plans. “These new spaces will allow us to expand our programs and answer the demand we’ve had for many years. We have been running at 100% capacity for almost 10 years,” adds Fox.

Working with AudienceView

Hale Centre Theatre first selected AudienceView as its technology partner in 2012. Many people don’t know that AudienceView actually rose to the top of the Hale Centre Theatre’s industry-wide search not once, but twice. A hiccup in budgeting and some unforeseen expenses delayed the project the first time. “The next year when we were ready, we decided to do a double check,” says Fox. “So AudienceView actually won twice!”

Several things were important to the Hale Centre Theatre in choosing its partner. Software as a Service (SaaS) was a main consideration because Michael’s team did not want to be responsible for updating the product on their servers. Reputation was also a key factor in their decision. “We wanted to know that other people were pleased with the product,” Michael emphasizes, adding that AudienceView’s flexibility and mobile capabilities were highly valued, too.

HCT_SeatingChart_Overview“The ability to have our seating chart truly in the round was a really a big deal to us,” Michael continues. “We did not find another product that could offer a curvature all the way around. The other products needed to do everything straight and could only turn corners equaling 180 degrees. We had always had that incorrect look online, so [the curved seating chart] was an exciting piece for us as well.”

Hale Centre Theatre found further value in AudienceView’s flexible season ticketing capabilities, which is critically important because these patrons account for 50% of attendance. The system is configured to allow patrons to pay for their seats, then return to choose them later, even weeks down the road. “When patrons log into the system, it recognizes that they are owed specific products, correctly and easily protects them from overbooking and allows them into their correct performances.”

Prior to partnering with AudienceView, the Hale Centre Theatre was using a platform with several different databases that could not be easily integrated to provide a true picture of each patron. “AudienceView’s all-in-one database is also a very important component for us and we really appreciate the business intelligence system and use it regularly. It allows us to pull data out and create a clearer picture of the individuals that attend and support Hale Centre Theater,” Michael said.

The Online Experience

In terms of the overall service experience, AudienceView has helped the Hale Centre Theatre transition many of its patrons online. “AudienceView has eased the burden of answering over 300 phone calls a day in our box office because 35% of all our tickets, season tickets and individual tickets are now purchased online. We can give better customer service to individuals who do call in and prefer that method. It also offers better customer service to those who are not interested in speaking with a live person by offering them a system that they can navigate and understand. Giving them a true picture of the theater [via the curved seating map] if they haven’t been here before is key to their satisfaction as much as talking to a live person, depending of course on preference.” As the producer of Hale Centre Theatre’s YouTube channel, Michael has also produced a video that includes discussion about the online and box office service experience. It is part of the HCT Rah series.

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat live at Hale Centre Theatre

Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat live at Hale Centre Theatre

Michael continues, “It really comes down to the understanding of what do people consider customer service. For people who are used to, customer service is the online experience. It’s not about whether you talk to someone, it’s not about how polite they are, or any of those things. It’s about how well you can move through a system and whether or not you get your product and get it easily, that’s customer service too. I think we are only breaching that as a generation of customer services providers, understanding that customer service is not only live interaction but also electronic interaction.”

AudienceView’s content management system has also brought convenience for parents of children attending Hale Centre Theatre summer arts camps. During online registration, they can complete and submit all required forms, saving them from downloading PDFs, printing, filling them out and returning them.

“We are excited about the future and continue to participate in AVConnect, both in person at conferences and via the online Hangouts. This gives us the opportunity to learn about what is coming and be part of the dialogue. I feel AudienceView still listens and wants to grow with us. [Some other vendors have simply said that their product] ‘doesn’t do that.’ With AudienceView, it’s like, ‘Hmm that’s an interesting idea. What if we could do this for you now and then help us develop this idea later.’ I really appreciate that and feel right from the top down like I have a voice.”

The Continuing Demise of the Home Page

I’m a homeowner, but don’t have a key to my own house. Well, I’m sure I could dig around and come up with one, but I don’t ever carry one.  To get inside, I open the automatic garage door and enter through an inside door.  I’ve done so every day in my nearly four years of living here. (Yes, a power outage is my kryptonite.)

My front door is the equivalent of your organization’s home page. It exists and it’s pretty, but fewer and fewer people are using it as the entranceway to your organization. We can thank search traffic, email marketing, social media and campaign specific landing pages for the rapid decline in home page traffic and growth of ‘inside’ or ‘article’ pages.

This concept has been fodder for numerous articles over the last several years. Zach Seward, a senior editor at digitally native news outlet Quartz, shared his thoughts in a 2013 Columbia Journalism Review titled, “Is the homepage dead?”:

“We tell our writers at Quartz to assume every post stands on its own and starts with an audience of zero. It has to earn its own audience out on the social web. That’s a challenge but a fun one, and it produces really strong material that readers like.”

“We’re thrilled if people visit us through the front door, by typing in, but we know that most everyone will come through the back door. The site design also reflects that: the ‘homepage’ drops you right into our top story and looks just like any article page.”

The topic resurfaced again last week when The New York Times’ Innovation Report 2014 was leaked to BuzzFeed and directly addressed their home page traffic:

“Traffic to the home page has been declining, month after month, for years. Traffic to section fronts is negligible. Traffic on our mobile apps, which are mostly downstream replicas of our home page and section fronts, has declined, as well.”

The New York Times report also included this powerful chart:

Homepage Visitors - AudienceView chart example

If you’re not seeing a decline in home page traffic, you may want to re-examine your website strategy. It likely means that your inside pages are not being shared or, worse yet, you aren’t using inside pages effectively (or at all). Campaign landing pages are critical to measuring marketing programs and reducing the number of clicks to a completed transaction.  This has a direct impact on your sales and business success.

If you are expending too much energy on your organization’s home page, consider shifting those resources to developing highly targeted inside pages. Then, analyze the trends monthly or quarterly to see if it’s having a positive impact and adjust accordingly.

We’ve Always Done It This Way

Many of us have social media friends who flood our Facebook news feed and Twitter timeline with inspirational quotes. This typhoon of inspiration usually leaves me uninspired and annoyed.

But I did recently stumble upon a quote that stopped me in my tracks: The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’

The quote is attributed to Grace Hopper (1906 – 1992), an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. Hopper delivers a simple, yet poignant point that can be applied to the adoption and use of technology in live entertainment organizations of all sizes.

Do you use the same ticketing software because it’s the only one you’ve ever used in your career?  Do you require your customers to put tickets, merchandise and donations in three separate shopping carts because your predecessor set it up that way? Do you use roll tickets and operate as a ‘cash only’ business in 2018 because that’s how your organization did business in 1998?

Continuing to do things you’ve “always done” is appropriate in some cases, but not merely because it’s safe and predictable. Stagnant business practices led to the demise of Blockbuster. Kodak, a brand synonymous with film, has spent billions (with a B!) on failed attempts to right its ship because its team failed to innovate.

You owe it to yourself and your organization to investigate changes that can improve your business.  Instead of echoing the old company line, create a new one: “We used to do it that way. We do it better now.” Your customers and bottom line will thank you.

Images on Twitter – Size Does Matter

As cliché as it sounds, the only constant in social media marketing is change.

We discussed the ever-changing landscape that is Facebook advertising in a February blog post and video hangout.

While perhaps less obvious than Facebook ads, Twitter is in the advertising game too. Recently, Twitter has made a number of changes to the ad products it offers. If you’re a regular on this social media platform, you’ve undoubtedly come across Promoted Accounts, Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends.

Just weeks before Twitter went public in late 2013, the company announced a new feature: in-stream photos. A post on their corporate blog explained the rationale for incorporating the new feature: “So many of the great moments you share on Twitter are made even better with photos or with videos from Vine. These rich Tweets can bring your followers closer to what’s happening, and make them feel like they are right there with you.”

The image and video previews were Twitter’s way of making it “easier for everyone to experience those moments on Twitter.” Some social media cynics, though, saw right through the company line. There was little doubt that the move was made to attract more eyeballs and increase engagement for advertisers. (Note: Pricing for Twitter advertising is performance based – “Pay only for engagement. It’s actually that simple.”)

The feature was rolled out in late October 2013 and some companies have failed to adapt and leverage the inline image preview. They continue to post photos and marketing images as they always have, without sizing them properly.

If you post a large image, Twitter automatically crops a section of it and displays it as 440×220. Unfortunately, the auto-crop isn’t intelligent enough to provide a preview that fits your image best.

The social media team behind lululemon athletica (@lululemon), for example, has a propensity to ‘decapitate’ their models in the image preview:

lululemon When the image is clicked, the full photo is powerful and includes their branding:

lululemon full size

What’s the takeaway? The size of the images you’re sharing on Twitter matters! The recommendation is to use a 2:1 ratio, with the optimum upload size of 1024×512 (which scales down nicely to 440×220).

Our friends at San Francisco-based SHN (@shnsf) provide us with a textbook example of using images on Twitter:

In-line Twitter image when sized properly

In-line Twitter image when sized properly

3-25-2014 10-40-38 AM

Image was uploaded using a 2:1 ratio (sized at 1024×512)

The Inevitable Price Hike

My name is Nick and I’m an Amazon Prime member. And I’ve been addicted to the service since I joined on November 28, 2012.

Last week, I received an email from “The Amazon Prime Team,” with the following subject line – Customer: Upcoming Changes To Your Prime Membership. I was fairly sure this was the inevitable price hike announcement, but I was interested to see how much they were increasing the membership fee.  During its quarterly earnings call in January, Amazon revealed that it may increase the price of the yearly subscription by $20 to $40. I was hoping (and wishing) for the lower end.

The letter stated that Amazon was implementing a $20 price hike for a one-year membership to Prime. Well played, Amazon. I was now “relieved” by a $20 increase.

The 25% increase – from $79 to $99 – is the first since the membership scheme was introduced in 2005.  This was specifically called out in the email sent to members. That same letter noted that fuel and transportation costs have grown significantly over the last nine years, along with the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping (from one million to over 20 million). Amazon has also added “unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library” over the course of the last nine years.

While I understand Amazon’s approach to position the price increase by promoting many years of steady pricing and value added over time, I think they missed an opportunity to package up my story and individual Prime habits.

How do you position price hikes?  Do you use existing customer data to help make the case?

A Prime Example

Amazon could have created a page within my account that provided me with key activities over the course of my history with the company, including:

  • Number of orders per year.
  • Number of times I was below their $35 free shipping threshold since joining Prime and the amount I saved in shipping costs.
  • Number of transit days saved when comparing the free standard shipping (5-8 business days) to Prime’s 2-day shipping.

They could have also considered calling out the free standard shipping threshold required by a sampling of Amazon’s competitors in the United States:

  • Best Buy – $25.00 (4-8 business days)
  • Home Depot – $45.00 (4-6 business days)
  • Walmart – $50.00 (6-9 business days)
  • Old Navy – $50.00 (7-9 business days)
  • Kohl’s – $75.00 (3-6 business days)

I took a quick look in my Amazon account and created a graph to visualize my use of Amazon before and after joining Prime. This quick exercise justified my use of the service. I’ll gladly renew my membership at the $99 price point when my time comes.

Amazon Orders

Could this approach backfire if the data doesn’t justify the membership for the customer? Sure, but that piece of the puzzle needs to be part of Amazon’s strategy. Customers could then be encouraged to increase the use of their Prime service between now and their renewal date.

The use of data can be just as compelling for entertainment and events organizations, clearly illustrating the value of a membership.

The Art of Sales at A.R.T.

Contributed by Mike Evenson /

Today, we announced the successful launch of our retail point-of-sale (POS) interface at Harvard University’s American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.).  Here’s the behind-the-scenes scoop!

Derek Mueller, Director of Patron Services/System Administrator at A.R.T.

Derek Mueller, Director of Patron Services/System Administrator at A.R.T.

Recently, a group of AV’ers visited the fine folks at A.R.T. on the Harvard campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Our trip was the culmination of a five-week project to create a beautiful POS interface so Derek Mueller and his team could process all bar transactions through AudienceView.

Let me back up a bit.  This past summer, at an AVConnect Academy social event in Toronto, Derek and I spoke about his desire to drive all A.R.T. transactions through AudienceView.  I confided we had a strong desire to enter the POS space.  The reality is we’re already there – “Quick Sale” is a great way to sell individual event tickets to the customer.  Until now, this has fit the needs of our clients quite well.  However, there are so many points during an event where customers transact with an organization.  We felt strongly that AudienceView could add value with an efficient process for selling non-ticketed items.  Derek and I agreed to stay in touch, then beta test a new POS interface.

Building POS was fun!  The team moved to the center of our 9th floor Toronto office and worked closely on design, execution and testing.  After five weeks, we hosted a staff social event and took POS for a ride.  We printed out funny money and sold food and drinks.  It worked really well and everyone was excited to see the new interface.  We tracked purchases against customer records, so we’ll always know what Genevieve Jacques likes to drink.  That’s great news for me when I need her help in the future!

"We have expanded from cash-only sales for drinks and snacks to accept credit cards for the first time, so no one gets turned away. " - Derek Mueller, A.R.T.

“We have expanded from cash-only sales for drinks and snacks to accept credit cards for the first time, so no one gets turned away. “
– Derek Mueller, A.R.T.

With POS ready to go, we hit the Harvard campus to see it in action.  Derek’s challenges were immediately apparent.  Busy theater, small bar, and two spikes in traffic – one before the event and one at intermission.  A.R.T. had never accepted credit cards at the bar and we saw them turn sales away prior to getting the POS tablets up and running.  It was a shame to see customers unable to enhance their experience with a drink because they didn’t carry cash.  We are moving more and more towards a cashless world and this is a key reason why Derek wanted POS so badly.

Long story short, we got POS set up, Derek’s staff was trained in minutes and they started using it right away.  POS was a success and many of the orders that night were processed with credit rather than cash.

Overall, introducing POS into AudienceView has been fantastic for a number of reasons:

  • It underscores our ongoing commitment to creating better user experiences for our clients and consumers alike.
  • AudienceView is much more than ticketing – it is a business processing solution that can handle our client’s retail POS needs.
  • An integrated transaction system and CRM opens up so many opportunities for organizations to augment customer experiences – online and in person.
  • We used our WebAPI to build POS.  This is the same WebAPI our clients are using to create fantastic business solutions.

We’re excited to get feedback from the field and continue to make improvements.  I think we’ve only scratched the surface on what POS could mean for organizations using AudienceView.