Is social networking hurting sales?

I got an email blast for a Broadway show the other day that made me wonder whether or not we’re putting too much emphasis on the “like” or the “follow” call to action that is appearing on every piece of marketing material known to man these days.

Here’s what concerns me:

In direct response advertising, what we want the person to do is buy a ticket. Period.  And any great salesperson will tell you that when you make the “ask,” you offer your customers only what you want them to buy.  If you offer something else to them at the same time, they just may take it.  And then you lose, or diminish your returns.  Make the ask, and if your customer rejects your first and best option, then you can reduce your ask.

By pushing the “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” we’re actually giving our customers a free way to show their support and love for a product without spending any money.

Yes, obviously there is a big difference between seeing a show and liking it, and the customer is missing a big part of the experience . . . so let me give you another example.

I got an email asking for a Kickstarter donation yesterday. I signed on and was ready to make my pledge when I noticed something.  The project had only raised money from 5 people.  But the project had almost 40 “likes.”

Obviously those 35 other people didn’t “like” the project that much, right?

Could it be that some of those 35 people were on the fence about giving and then clicked the like button and said, “Ok, now I don’t have to feel so guilty for not doing anything”?  They had an out that could show their support, albeit in a small way, without buying.

Now, you could argue that these people are warmer leads for conversion later on down the road (as long as a good social media strategy backed it up), but we could be letting some people off the hook by pushing liking and following too much.  (Hopefully someone will do a study to see whether this theory bears fruit or not.)

But whatever the answer to the question is . . . the message is the same.

Be careful what you ask for . . . because you just might get it . . . or worse, you might not get it.


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How to make all of your staffers into sellers.

If you’ve ever done community theater, you know that the majority of the tickets are purchased by friends and family of the people on stage.

When I did community theater, we were actually given stacks of tickets, and told to sell them to our friends and family.

It was an instant audience.

The smartest community and high school theaters chose bigger shows, knowing that the more cast members in the show, the more peeps (and parents) in the house.

Well, just because you’ve climbed the ladder of professionalism all the way to Broadway, doesn’t mean this scenario ceases to exist.  Friends and family buy tickets to Broadway shows too, and those tickets are sold mostly by the cast and crews.  Unlike smaller theatrical productions, which only run for a handful of performances, Broadway shows exhaust the friends and family audience pretty quickly.

But . . .

What if we could take this natural pattern and use it to turn the casts and crews of our shows into our sales force?

This is a perfect example of what I call “Fan-The-Flame” marketing.  If you see something is working on its own, it’s your job to blow on it . . . and blow it up.

So, how can we make this concept burn hotter?  What about this . . .

What’s the most common question you get when you meet someone new?  “What do you do?”  Right?  Now imagine you’re an actor in a Broadway show.  You can bet that the person you just met is going to be pretty excited to talk to you.  And odds are, if you tried, you could probably convert a ticket sale to your show right there on the spot . . . if you had the right tools . . . and the right motivation.

What if your show or institution adopted a sales commission strategy for all their employees on a show by show basis.  I don’t care if you’re the marketing director, the concessionaire, an actor, or a parking attendant.  Sell a ticket?  Make $1, $5 or even as high as $10.

You make more money. Your employees make more money.  No risk.

Everyone is happy.

Might you lose a few bucks by paying commission on orders that your employees probably would have put in anyway?  Maybe . . . but I guarantee that’ll quickly pay that loss back back with the motivated personnel you just put out on the streets . . . at no additional cost to you (it’s commission only).

You won’t get 100% participation from your employees..  And most will sell just a few, because as much as everyone says they want to make more money, the truth is, many don’t want to do extra work.  But I’d bet you’ll find at least one person that sells like Crazy Eddie.

Your employees should already be the greatest brand ambassadors you have.

So why not turn every single one of them into the greatest sales people you have?

Going for the knockout punch in marketing.

There’s nothing more exciting than a knockout.

I grew up watching Mike Tyson come into his own, and every time he fought, the entire crowd was on knockout-alert . . . just waiting for that one punch that would have the other guy chewing canvas. Sometimes Mikey didn’t disappoint . . . but more often than not, the ear-biting heavyweight put the guy out after a combination of several punches that wore the other guy down, setting him up for the one punch that sent him in to la-la land.

The best boxers out there aren’t going for just knockouts.  They hammer away at the body, then they give a couple of shots to the head, then back to the body . . . then they let the other fighter toss a few punches of his own so that he’ll tire himself out.

And eventually, the smarter boxer is left standing.

The best marketers don’t go for just knockouts.  They aren’t waiting for that one great review, or the one full-page ad, or the one appearance on a talk show that they think will send sales skyrocketing.  See, the problem with praying for a one-punch knockout, is that it also leaves you vulnerable.  If that punch doesn’t land, you could be the one throwing in the towel.

The best marketers realize that selling a show is a long 10-round fight and every initiative, every ad, every review, is part of a bigger, overall strategy.

So when you’re out their fighting for sales, just try to land one punch.  Then another.  Then another.

Because slow and steady is what sells your show.

More performance time research revealed.

Telecharge released a third installment of their report on Broadway performance times recently, once again challenging us all to thoroughly examine our perf schedule and ask, “Do we have the best performance times for our customers or are we just going along with tradition?”

This report concentrated solely on Out-Of-Town buyers (tourists) and Suburbanites, since those two groups account from more than 80% of our sales.

Here are a few bullet points from the in-depth analysis:

  • Monday night has the highest percentage of out-of-towners, but Thursday has 3x as many out-of-town sales as Monday.
  • Wednesday evening is typically the weakest-selling performance, but twice as many out-of-towners bought tickets for a Wednesday evening as a Monday evening.
  • Unlike out-of-town buyers, suburban buyers show a significant preference for matinee performances.
  • Sunday and Monday evenings are the two weakest performances for sales to tourists but they have a high percentage of sales from them: 52% and 54%, comparable to Friday and Saturday night.  These performances depend more on tourists than other performances.
  • The peak performances for out-of-town buyers fall between Thursday and Sunday afternoon.
  • Thursday is a stronger performance with out-of-town buyers than Sunday matinee or Wednesday night.

What does all the data in these three reports tell us?  Should we have 7 PM performances on other nights besides Tuesday?  Should we have Thursday and/or Friday matinees?  If tourists are here between Thursday and Sunday, what about a Friday at 5 (like our friends in London)?  What about 9 PMs on Saturday?

These reports don’t have all the answers.  As a therapist once told me . . . “We don’t have all the answers, we just know what questions to ask.”

These fantastic reports challenge us all to ask our own questions about our own specific shows.  Don’t follow tradition for tradition’s sake (unless, of course, you’re doing Fiddler).  Use the stats, study your audience, and shake up your times until you find what works best.

Special thanks to The Shuberts and Telecharge for releasing this info.  (To read the summaries of the previous reports click here and here.)

Let’s hope for more of these in the future.

Or you know what would be really cool?  A Telecharge ticketing blog!


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