If at first you don’t buy, we should try, try again.

Sometimes I think that Producers and Marketers forget that theater tickets are expensive.

We talk about ticket prices so much, and we talk about discount ticket prices so much, that we just get numb to it.  (We also tend to think of ticket prices in terms of 1 ticket at a time – from as low as $99 or $149.50 for an orchestra ticket – forgetting that very few people buy just 1 ticket and most incur service fees.)

So what may seem like an everyday purchase to us, just ain’t that for the modern consumer.  We’re not a pack of gum, or a song download, or even that shirt you’ve seen in the window as you walk by J. Crew.

Dropping several hundreds of dollars requires more thought, more research, more checking with friends and loved ones . . . and more time.

That means if you visit a show’s ticket page, or a show’s website, you’re probably not going to make a purchase right away.  You’re still in the gathering information phase (this is why I don’t encourage the hard sell on someone’s first visit to a show’s site).

And that also means . . . well, it means that we need to figure out better ways to F.U.

Whenever I’m raising money for a show (as I am now with Spring Awakening, and I’m just about done), I’m reminded of how important it is to F.U. – or “Follow Up.”  It’s why I dedicated a whole chapter to how to do it in Raise It.

Any salesperson (especially those for luxury or “non-pack-of-gum” goods) will tell you that the key to making the sale is in the follow up, since most purchasers don’t walk out with the item they’re looking at on the first day. Closing requires a perfectly timed email, a phone call, maybe a direct mail, who knows.  But what I do know is that the traditional business world follows up like a mofo, and we should too.

But how?

– Our ticket companies should have abandoned cart emails, that send messages to people who select tickets but then don’t click buy. (Ticketmaster does – but not sure about Telecharge – does your ticket company?)

– Could we go beyond that and email anyone that visits a show’s ticketing page but didn’t even click buy?  (This would require them to be signed in to the site so we have their email address.)

– Without emails, do we use retargeting but with special messages on the banners that say something like, “Hey – you didn’t buy – here’s another try?”

– I know we don’t get as many phone calls as we used to, but anyone not converting over the phone could get a return call in a few days, or a follow up email.

– Box offices could collect emails from people that walk away to get tossed into a follow up campaign.

And I’m sure you’ve got some ideas, right?

I’d love to hear ’em.  And I’m workin’ on a few more myself.

Because we’re leaving thousands and thousands of dollars on the table, all because we’re not able to employ some of the tried-and-true classic sales techniques proven to close sales loops.

I’ve got to go now, because I’ve got to follow up on a few things.

And just remember, if you want to sell anything.  F.U.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –


– Win 2 tickets to see The New York Pops Featuring Sutton Foster!  Click here.

– LAST DAY to apply for the Spring Awakening Associate Producer Scholarship!  Click here.

– Listen to Podcast Episode #30 with Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom Records!  Click here.
  • Tom Hartman says:

    After honestly re-assessing my limited gifts as a performer, I spent 25 years in non-profit fundraising. One the bedrocks of landing a major gift or getting people to increase their gift is – reasearch. Which, I assume is also a cornerstone of raising show investment capital — Would you ask someone who has only invested only in shows such as, say, How to Succeed, Sound of Music and Fiddler, to invest in Spring Awakening — a rock musical with some — some — well, a song titled “My Junk”?

    What about a pop-up survey that asks what Broadway shows they’ve seen, do they go to straight plays and musicals 50/50, what are their favorite shows they’ve seen on Broadway?

    I would assume that someone whose seen the recent revival of Pippin would be more likely to purchase tickets for Spring Awakening than someone who saw Cinderella.

  • Ginger Dayle says:

    I hate the “please finish your transaction” or “you have items in your cart” emails I get. It happens all the time when looking at baseball tickets. It makes me less likely to buy, and those are only $21 or so. A $150+ ticket that keeps reminding me to buy is even more irritating.

    A show’s web site should follow up with a “we’re glad you visited” email. No solicitation AT ALL! Just say hi. At least the first time. So we don’t feel like your next score. It’s like being hunted or something.

    Oddly enough, theatre is the one event where I’m more likely to go to the web site after I’ve seen the performance. It’s mostly to see the creative team again, especially if there was an actor or part of the story line that I loved. So those “BUY ME” emails really annoy me. It’s like, “I just gave you money to go away and you’re still here.”

  • Ray DeForest says:

    I have to say I don’t mind those “you left something in your cart” emails. They often work for me. Or at least remind me I’m looking at certain seats etc. It’s part of business these days. Is it a bit “impersonal”, yes, but at the same time I would never expect large companies to be sending personal emails to me because I looked at tickets at a large Broadway house. (wouldn’t that be nice!) I spend a good chunk of my day on Social Media websites contacting fans and people about tickets, interest in shows etc. It’s arduous work, but I find necessary if I want to sell tickets to a smaller show (I do a show once a month in a cabaret room… not easy filling those seats consistently, but lucky for me I have). FU is most important whether it be through an automatic system or personally, it is the only way to assure consistent interest in a project. IMHO

  • Trudee Lunden says:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one using shorthand for f/u as “follow up”. Two ideas:

    First: I used to sell electric cars alongside gas car dealers (talk about an oxymoron!) and learned one tagline in the auto biz: wives can kill the deal. So figure out how to appease the wives.

    Second: People in general like to know they’re contributing to a cause greater than themselves (or even theatre) so perhaps at the onset of marketing the show on your website, come up with a worthy cause that all involved unanimously vote on to give a certain percentage (e.g. 10% or more) and consider this when setting your ticket price. That cause being related to the moral compass of the show would be ideal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *