Amazon is now a pain reliever. A lesson for Broadway and all businesses.

Every great company has a “thing” that puts them on the map or pushes them to a new height. Think the iPhone or The Sopranos or The Frappucino.

For Amazon.com it was free and fast shipping.

Jeff Bezos recognized that what consumers wanted was to get what they paid for fast . . . and free. He knew his competitors were just a short drive away from most of his customers, so he had to compete.

That’s why he introduced Amazon Prime, which now has 100 million members, makes Amazon a ton of $$$ and attracts and keeps customers.

And like a fancy new Apple product or a new drink from Starbucks, it took the company to another height when it was introduced years ago.

Amazon got beaten up this on the stock market this past week, on fears of a slower than usual holiday season (there are similar fears on Broadway, by the way).

So what did Bezos do?

He announced free shipping on all holiday orders. For everyone.

!!!

Now that’s a promotion.

Not just because it’s so “out of the box,” but because it’s so simple. The formula for a fantastic Bezos-like promotion goes something like this:

  1. Ask your customer what their “pain point” is.
  2. Relieve that pain.
  3. Get customer’s business and get them to like you in the process.

I can’t help but think about our customers’ pain points. And the one I hear the most often?

Ticket service fees.

I blogged about a Prime-like idea to get rid of service fees once before, but Bezos inspired me to talk about it again . . . but this time in a more in a focused way.

What if we waived service fees during our dark times of September or February?

What if a show offered no service fees as a one-off promotion?

What if you got free service fees if you ordered more than 4 tickets?

I don’t know.

But I do know that service fees are a pain point . . . and we could sell more tickets and gain more customer loyalty if we could do away with them every so often.

Maybe it could be our industry’s Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Do you have an idea on how to heal a pain point in our biz? Tell me in the comments below.

What a Theater Subscription should have in common with Netflix, Audible, Amazon Music and more.

I’m gonna make a bet.

I’d bet that on your monthly credit card statement in 2018, you have more recurring monthly charges than you did in 2013. Back then you might have had a gym membership. Maybe a Netflix account for DVDs (remember that?). But that was probably about it.

Now, maybe it’s Apple Music, or Blue Apron, Stitch Fix, Microsoft Office, Postmates unlimited plan, or any of the thousand other apps or services that have changed their economic model from large one-time purchase to smaller monthly charges, or what they call MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue).

The theory is that by taking a big fee and dividing it up into a series of smaller charges on a monthly basis, conversion rates increase, and the cost looks smaller to the consumer and just becomes an accepted part of the credit card statement. And the service continues until canceled, so the company doesn’t have to resell their product to that customer a year later like they would for the one-time larger purchase. The charges just keep going and going and going.

Get the idea? Sure you do. Because you’re probably a part of a few of these models . . . and you probably like it! It makes it more affordable. You don’t have to think about it. And your product gets automatically updated. As long as you use the service, it’s a win-win.

And by the #s of billion-dollar companies that have transitioned to MRR in 2018 as opposed to five years ago, I’m willing to bet it’s working for the companies and the consumer.

Which got me to thinking.

I was talking to a big regional theater lately and inquired about their subscription payment plan (see where I’m going with this?). Of course, they sold a one-time purchase subscription and they also gave their subscribers an option to break their sub up into three or so payments.

But three payments seems awkward to me. And inconsistent.

What if . . . regional theaters went to the MRR model and whacked their subscription up over the year in monthly chunks. The cost would be smaller (see above theory), the charges would be more regular and more likely to become part of the consumer’s expected routine . . . AND, you could just say their subscription was good until canceled . . . year after year after year.

Downside would be that you could lose some subscribers in the MIDDLE of the year. But I’d bet you’d pick up a heck of a lot more in the process.

Worth a shot by some theater out there as a case study, no? If I had a subscription model theater, I’d do it.

And I’d also do it if I were a subscriber.

 

Why you need to get OFF-line every once in a while.

No one is more of an advocate of technology in the industry than me.

But just like a diet . . . you can’t just eat one food and expect to be healthy.

Diet, exercise, and building a business are all about a balanced approach.

And online marketing and professional development must be balanced with offline initiatives.

While online is easier and faster to execute, offline or in-person connections are still much, much stronger.

That’s why last year I held my first Producer’s Perspective Super Conference . . . as a way to get passionate people who want to make theater in a room.

Like most of the things I do, I had no idea what would happen when we announced it. A few months later, we sold out, with 150 people gathered at Playwrights Horizons to hear from expert speakers in our industry on all subjects, from raising money to social media and more.

I know of at least a dozen productions that were jump-started at that conference, and about a hundred other networking connections that were made.

So, of course, when something works like that, we do it again . . . and we try to make it even better.

Introducing Super Conference II . . . coming up in less than 30 days, on November 10th and 11th. We’re at a bigger venue this time (and we’ve already sold more tickets than last year) and more speakers, including Tony Winners Itamar Moses, Lisa Kron, and Des McAnuff, plus Sergio Trujillo, Stephen Byrd, Neil Pepe and more, talking about subjects like:

  • Demystifying Show Biz Law: Everything You Should Know to Save Time and Money
  • Sure-Fire Tips on Raising The Money You Need to Get to Broadway
  • Media Blitz: How to Get Press That Sells Tickets
  • License to Sell: How to Make $$$ Beyond Broadway
  • Building Your Brand: How to Be An Artists & a CEO

And a keynote by one of the most produced playwrights in the country, John Cariani.

It’s the only conference dedicated to giving theater artists the tools they need to get their shows off the ground.

You can see the full roundup of killer speakers and their subjects here.

We’ve only got about 70 seats left . . . and based on the sales velocity, we’re going to sell out pretty soon, so if you’re interested in learning about the biz and how you can make your mark, click here and sign up now. 

I have no doubt you’ll walk away inspired and infused with an energy to make whatever theatrical goal you have happen . . . and fast.

So close your computer, put down your phone, and come meet people in person.

After all, we work in the theater . . . if you’re not willing to come meet people in a room, how do you expect to get people to come to your room when you’ve got a show?

Register for The Super Conference here.

GUEST BLOG: TKTS, Street Teams, and the $100 Million Market No One Knows About

Broadway continues to do big business and is only trending up, but there’s a segment of ticket sales that has largely been ignored. Pre-sales are guaranteed money in the bank (music to any Producer’s ear), but what if I told you there was another segment of the market that rakes in over $100 million annually for producers? I’m talking about same-day ticket sales at TKTS.

Run by the not-for-profit Theatre Development Fund, TKTS provides discounted same-day Broadway and off-Broadway tickets. It’s an iconic and vital part of the industry and is built into many theatre producer business models.

The most popular booth is in Times Square on 47th/7th Avenue, with satellite booths at Lincoln Center and South Street Seaport. Accounting for 12% of all tickets sold (Broadway League Demographics 2016-2017), this equates to over 1.4 million tickets and $104 million returned to the shows. That’s a lot of tickets.

And yet, promotion at these booths often comes as an afterthought. There is a captive market of up to 30,000 theatre-goers every week waiting to buy tickets, many of whom haven’t decided which show they want to see. A proper street team is a pivotal tool in getting these people into your show.

Broadway Crew is on the front lines, serving as the face of your brand and engaging with your customers one on one on a daily basis. People come to New York wanting to see the best live theatre in the world and TDF has done an amazing job in making TKTS the most visible source in the city for quality, discounted tickets. But a lot of the time these patrons have no idea what is playing, how everything works, or even what to see.

So what makes a good team? It’s so much more than just handing out flyers. It’s creating the proper soft-selling environment, determining customer needs, and recommending based on their pain and pleasure points. Not everyone is going to want to see every show, but the proper team can customize the pitch to the individual and find the parts of your show that appeal to them.

We founded Broadway Crew in an effort to elevate the street team and the same day ticket-buying experience. No one wants to be hard sold into something. They want to work together with a team member who helps them find their own way. The theatre-going experience begins the moment you decide to see a show and continues to the final bows. At Broadway Crew, we aim to make the decision-making process an enjoyable one, and we work hard to accomplish this every day.

In short, money spent on street teams is a tiny, but vital slice of your marketing budget pie. We’ve seen our clients returning 100x their investment in ticket sales. It’s a no-brainer, right?

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Sam and Jackson founded Broadway Crew in an effort to elevate the same-day ticket buying experience by making street teams into effective sales teams and prioritizing customer service and employee happiness. We want to do things the right way by making sure our employees are happy and our clients and their customers are happy. By focusing on people, everybody wins. Let us know how we’re doing! Drop us a line at www.BroadwayCrew.com or find us on Instagram @BroadwayCrew and on Twitter @BwayCrew.

Be careful of how much you ask your audience to do.

Over ten years ago, my productions of The Awesome 80s Prom and Altar Boyz were two of the first shows to send an email to their audience after they saw the show: to thank them for coming, and to ask them to come back, spread the word, etc. (see the now so outdated NY Times article about it here.)

I experimented with a whole bunch of different types of marketing “asks” in those emails and in the emails we started sending to customers before they came to the show as well.

And while engagement rates with these emails were always high, I noticed something pretty quickly when I asked them to do too many things.

I was reminded of this the other day when I got a marketing email from a show that wanted me to buy tickets . . . and download a CD . . . and watch a video . . . . like the show on Facebook . . . and write a review…

What did I do?

None of them.

What I learned way back then (and honestly what I have to remind myself every time I design an email to an audience mine) is that your audience gets distracted very easily, and even more so today than ten years ago.

If you offer your readers too many choices, not only may they not do the thing that is most important to you (in this case, buy tickets), but they may just not do anything at all.

The moment I started putting one . . . just one . . . call to action in my emails, surprise, surprise, I started getting better results.

So rather than try to push three things one time in an email, I started pushing one thing THREE times.

Boom.

I know, I know . . . as Producers, Writers, Entrepreneurs, we have so many things we want to tell our audience. We’re like kids at the zoo! Look at this, Ma! And this too! Did you see this?

But guess what . . . your audience doesn’t care about it like you do.

You’ve got a much better shot at trying to get them to care about one thing . . . just one.

(And if you think this is just my opinion, then read about the famous “Jam Study” here.)

So the next time you’re designing an email or any type of communication to your audience, follow this checklist:

  1. What is the ONE thing that you want your audience to do?
  2. Push that ONE thing at least three times.

And if you’ve got something else you want to get them to engage with?

Do that one thing next time.

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