The shortest distance between advertising and a purchase is a straight line.

I heard a great radio spot for Wicked on WPLJ the other day.  It had a Valentine’s Day theme, so it was fresh and timely.  It featured a climactic and dramatic piece of music that emphasized the story.  And it left me wanting more.  It was easy to see why someone would be inclined to buy tickets after hearing it.

But where would they buy tickets?

The call-to-action at the end of the commercial was something like this:

“For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com!”

If I was a 1980s robot, this is where I’d say, “Beep-boo-bop-bleep.  Does not compute.  Does not compute.  Beep-boo-bleep!”

Why would we send someone to Ticketmaster, a Walmart style ticketing department store, when we could send them straight to WickedTheMusical.com?  I’ll tell you why. Because Ticketmaster makes us.

Does not compute!

Here’s the problem with the flow.

– Customer hears Wicked commercial.

– Customer goes to Ticketmaster.

– Customer then sees the home page of Ticketmaster, which looks like this and promotes everything from Katy Perry to the NBA to the Circus.  In other words, it has a lot of distractions, so your risk of losing the customer increases.

But it’s not over yet.

– Customer then has to search for Wicked by typing it into the search box or clicking around.  The risk of losing the customer increases yet again, and there is room for error, frustration, and bears oh my.

– If a customer does type in Wicked, this is what the search results show . . . and it’s like a scavenger hunt to find the date and CITY that you want (because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the show is quite the hit).  You guessed it . . . risk increases again, and your conversion rate has now dropped by a pretty healty percent, I would imagine.

Now imagine this . . .

“Buy Tickets at WickedTheMusical.com”

– Customer goes to Wicked‘s main site, and Wicked is able to get the customer more on the hook with images, music (perhaps the same as is heard in the commercial) etc., instead of risk losing that lead to any of the other events on the TM home page.  More hooked, rather than less.  Sounds good to me.

– There is a simple and easy to read Buy Tickets button on the home page.  See for yourself.

– And when the customer clicks on Broadway, for example, this is what they see . . . a straight through shot to exactly what they want.

Less clicks, less confusion and most importantly, Wicked‘s conversion rates increase . . . because you’ve gotten the customer to the cash register faster, which we know is more important than ever in the 2010s, which I’ve termed The Era of Distraction.

Why does Ticketmaster want the customer to go through their site?  Got me . . .

– They are not losing any money, because Wicked still ports the customer through to their site, so the full  service fees remain intact.

– Ditto with the data.  They still capture it all.

– The conversation rates for the advertising should increase, which should actually earn them more money.

– And, their customer’s experience is cleaner.

I guess they lose a bit of branding?  But really?  Is that worth more than the above?  I don’t think so.  And besides, isn’t it time they start realized that it’s the shows people want to see, not the ticketing sites.

The best e-commerce solutions I’ve seen are when there doesn’t seem to be e-commerce at all.  It’s . . . well . . . seamless.  We seem to be doing the opposite and actually calling attention to the fact that the customer is spending money.

Does not compute.

We’re sending people around the bend to get our product. It’s like driving a mile out of the way to get a gallon of milk, when you’ve got a store right next door that sells it for the exact same price.

And not only does this not compute, but it makes me say, “What the bleep?”

– – – – –

Enter to win this Sunday’s Giveaway: 2 tickets to see Pippin star Ben Vereen! Click here!

The ticketing war hits the skies.

http://www.theproducersperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/my_weblog/6a00e54ef2e21b88330147e174b04a970b.jpgI noticed a billboard on 7th Avenue the other day that I hadn’t seen before. I snapped a picture so you could see what it was advertising.

Yep, it’s pitching . . . Telecharge, the official ticketing agent of Broadway.

There was a time when Telecharge didn’t have to advertise.  Heck, there was a time when Telecharge didn’t have to give out seat locations.  But with brokers and websites hitting media hard with adwords, banners and even taxi tops (Have you seen that Broadway.com buy?), Telecharge super smartly decided use some of their service fees to fight impressions with impressions, in an attempt to educate the consumer that the fastest and cheapest way to buy is through the official source for tickets.  I’ve seen them spending money on adwords, but the outdoor angle looks relatively new to me.

And I like it.

Ticketing companies are like department stores.  They have a lot of different types of products of all different shapes and sizes.

And the money that is spent supporting the store helps to support all the products inside.

– – – – –

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We need younger audiences. But who hasn’t?

The cry in advertising and marketing meetings all over the country is, “We need to find younger audiences!”

And I agree.

But . . . something tells me that this same cry has been heard for every decade of theatergoing.  I have to wonder if even Shakespeare himself was frustrated because he couldn’t get college-age kids to put down their PBR, leave their sorority parties and come listen to some verse.

Back in this country, over the past 75 years, has the theater ever been something that the youngins have flocked to organically?

Nope.

Unfortunately, that means it’s going to take a lot more than a $25 ticket or a ‘bring us your empty PBR can and we’ll give you a free t-shirt promotion’ to win over this lot.

It’s going to take the right product.

Unfortunately, product that appeals to this sect, doesn’t necessarily appeal to the traditional theater going sect, who are the fuel that keeps the theater going economically.

And, as ol’ Bill would say, “there’s the rub.”

Because we do need them.  And yes, every generation may have said that, but I believe that this generation needs it even more, thanks to the declining attendance on Broadway and the declining participation in the arts nationwide.

While young audiences may not be the answer for your short term sales needs, if you’re looking to stay in this business for a long time, they are the future of your long term needs.

Because they grow up.

And eventually they grow out of PBR-soaked hangovers and would rather enjoy a night of Hamlet instead.

Advice from an Expert: Vol. XVII. My Mother The Theatergoer.

There’s always a lot of talk about the Tonys in the weeks that follow the big show.  What numbers were successful?  Could we give the plays more attention and still hold the audience’s attention?  And who fit Katie Holmes into her dress?

But the most important question for the Producers out there is . . . after watching the Tonys, what shows does the public want to see?

All of us in the industry debate this question like crazy.  But what do we know?  Most of us don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a family of four from the suburbs interested in seeing a show on their next long weekend.  In fact, I would wager that the people making the product in our industry and the people seeing the product are more different than in most industries out there.

But that doesn’t stop us from guessing.

I was in the middle of a heated discussion about my own guesses on what the public wanted to see last week, when I realized it was time to go to the source.  I decided to go to what most advertising agencies would describe as the model of a “traditional” theatergoer:  a suburban female in her 50s-60s who sees 3-5 shows per year, mostly musicals, and pays full price.

And that theatergoer is my momma.  And she’s literally been in my backyard this whole time!

I called Mom, who, of course, had tuned in to the Tonys, and asked her if she would write a mini-blog for me about her perspective on this year’s show.  Most specifically, I asked . . . “Mom, after watching the Tonys, what shows do you want to see the next time you are in town?”

Here’s what Mom had to say . . . [my comments are in brackets] “I watched the Tony Awards a few nights ago.  I love the excitement, costumes, music – even the speeches.  I often get ideas about what I’d like to see on our next NYC trip.  Before I tell you what shows captured my attention from the way they were presented at The Tonys, I thought you might find it interesting to get a few additional details about my perspective (and some of these Kenneth doesn’t even know).  [Yes, she, and about three other people on the planet, call me Kenneth.]

  • My first theater experience was 50 years ago when I saw Annie Get Your Gun.  When the stage curtain opened, revealing a real live horse . . . I was hooked!  [When people see things on stage that they don’t expect to see: kids, animals, helicopters, it elevates the experience.]
  • As a teenager, I was addicted to buying show albums, and also listening to show songs popularized by famous artists.  I loved those album covers and the summaries of the shows on the back (King and I, Mame, etc.)  [Oh, if only popular artists were covering our tunes today.]
  • I was a teen in the ’60s, which put me in the proper emotional state to grasp the power of music.  It brought people together, challenged their thinking and even caused them to take action (Hair, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar).  

And now, here are the shows that I wanted to see and the ones that didn’t interest me (there were many other shows that I had no opinion on – I’d have to learn more before putting them in the “to see” or “don’t see” category).  It’s important to remember that this is based solely on what I saw on the Tonys.  I might not see any of these shows, or I might see them all.  A lot of things may change my mind before I get to New York next, including what Kenneth thinks I might like to see or not.  [Good ol’ fashioned Word of Mouth trumps all, and I can’t believe she called me Kenneth twice in this blog.]

SHOWS I REALLY WANT TO SEE!

Memphis:  The music and the dancing were so exciting, this is at the top of my list.  (I have to admit that ‘Listen to the Beat’ sounded like Hairspray‘s ‘You Can’t Stop The Beat.’ but I loved the music and the dancing in that show, too!)  [Music, dancing . . . the keys to an audience-pleaser of a musical.]

Fela!:  I love the costumes, the music and the dancing.  The story (about using music to communicate) also seemed very interesting to me.  [See her comment about growing up in the ’60s.  What our audience lived through helped make them who they are today and influences what they want to see.]

Million Dollar Quartet:  Loved the music and the story idea and Levi Kreis’s performance.

Red:  I really liked the premise about the importance of art and what I saw of both Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne.  [Mom was disappointed to hear she wouldn’t get a chance to see this show because of its limited run.  I told her if she was disappointed, imagine how the Producers must feel.]

NAH, I’LL PASS

American Idiot:  To me, it seemed like a concert, and not a show.  I’ve heard about Green Day because my other son is in the music business, but I’ve never listened to any of their music before.  The music was interesting to me, but I’m not going to play it in my car anytime soon.

A Little Night Music:  I don’t know this show very well, so I can only base my thoughts on what I saw, but I wasn’t inspired.  I love ‘Send In The Clowns,’ but I didn’t learn anything else about the show through the performance.”
So there are Mom’s Tony Award Takeaways.

Now please remember, this is only one Mom’s opinion. And the opinions expressed here by my Mom are solely my Mom’s and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Moms everywhere or even me.

But she’s a Mom with a Mastercard, and she uses it to buy tickets.  So maybe we should listen to all of the Moms out there more than we listen to those of us on the inside of the business.

So . . . what did your Mom think?

[Update:  My mom came into the city this weekend unexpectedly.  Although she wanted to see Memphis, she ended up getting Chicago tickets instead (and special thanks to Michael at the Ambassador BO for helping her out).  Why?  “I thought your step-father would enjoy it more.”]

Favorite Quotes Vol. XXVI: How to get young audiences to see your show.

It’s been 9 months since the theater-owner line up was shaken up big time when young gun, Jordan Roth, was called up to head the Jujamcyn Organization.

New York Magazine checked in on the young turk in a fantastic feature published a week or so ago, that describes how Jordan plans to take the theater into the 21st century (yes, I know we’re technically already in the 21st century, but the theater has a habit of lagging behind, so in my mind, it’s still 1998).

So what is Jordan’s advice on getting the younger audience to the theater?  He sums it up like this:

“What I believe in is product. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how to get a young audience to see The Music Man. If you want a young audience, don’t f*cking do The Music Man.”

Great quote, right?  It’s definitely hot enough to qualify for this FQ column.

But it was Jordan’s final comments in the article that really resonated for me.

“The shows that change the world do it because they offer something you haven’t seen before.”

Unique product is the key to any industry and any art form.  Marketing is great and fine and important and all that bologna and cheese.  I mean, give me a show, and I’ll market the bejesus out of it with promotions and advertising and stunts and more.

But if you really want to be successful?  Give us something that we don’t even know we need . . . but once we get a taste of it, we can’t get enough and don’t know how we ever lived with out it.
Read the feature here to learn about Jordan’s renovation plans, how he chooses product, and the secret door that leads to the St. James Theater.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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