Monthly Archives: November 2011

Audience development – Give Thanks!

Today I recorded a message for you:

http://cinch.fm/audiencedevspec/auddevtotd/317117

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and thank you
for reading my blog!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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#NAMPC National Arts Marketing Project Conference – Winning Audiences – Final Day

After practically no sleep, I was still excited about the last day.  This was the day I was scheduled to present!

8:45 Engaging Audiences through Collaboration and Innovation

I had a great team to work with.  Our moderator was Kory Kelly, Director of Marketing & Communications at Actors Theatre of Louisville.  Also presenting with me were Sam Read, Deputy director of Theatre Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington and Greg Fiedler, President and CEO of the Greater Flint Arts Council in Flint, Michigan.  We decided to tag team our presentations so one would lead into another.

I started off the morning of our Engage Audiences through Collaboration and Innovation with an overall look at the variety of collaborations you can achieve.  Each type of collaboration had a case study story to give an example – the case study pointed out how it engages with your audience.  This presentation was from the view point of one organization working with many other arts and community organizations.  This was a milestone presentation for me too since I vowed to never do another “PowerPoint” presentation ever again.  You can hold me to it!

My audience was a little sleepy during the beginning of my presentation, but I could see them waking up in the middle.  8:45 am?  Much too early, right?

Sam Read took the ball and presented Arts Crush.  This festival is full of creative ideas on how to get the different disciplines of the arts working together and working with the community.  Innovative programming, venues, and audience development can result when a community gets together to co-create an arts festival.  His presentation was exciting and the theme of collaboration and innovation was demonstrated perfectly.  One of my favorite quotes – Move beyond the butt!

Greg Fiedler had a video presentation that spoke about the Parade of Festivals that his Arts Council is responsible for.  The point of the presentation was to not only show how different and interesting festivals can work together to build audience, but also how the arts are changing the perception that surrounds Flint, Michigan.  Unfortunately, almost everyone raised their hands (before the video) when asked if they heard something negative about Flint.  Fortunately, everyone raised their hands when asked if the video gave them a more positive perception of Flint.  The arts are making a difference in Flint, and through collaboration (and innovation), the difference is noticed!

10:45 Closing Plenary with Sam Horn

This was an interesting move since this talk tied together all the elements of the conference – marketing, development, audience development.  We all seemed a bit brain dead and Sam Horn was speaking in codes, or rather acronyms.  The messages of her talk were extremely valuable. Some of her main points are as follows. When relating to people – don’t just tell them what you do – tell them an example of what you are doing.  Tell stories instead of relying completely on facts and figures.  Get them to raise their eyebrows by asking “Did You Know” questions and supply them with some of the most interesting details about your organization.  Lastly, relate your message to who you are speaking to.  Instead of a typical elevator speech that states your mission, which is the same for everyone, first find out who they are and then give them something to relate to about your organization. Even though I was dog tired and ready for lunch, I got the messages and agree wholeheartedly.

My Final Tweets

Lunch

My last little session of hanging with some great people.  A group of us went to hotel sports bar and grill before we left in our cars, taxis and eventually our airplanes toward home.  It was a fantastic ending to the conference – down time with folks that understand you.

Overall Impression

I have to say that all in all, NAMPC was an amazing experience.  The people I met, the presentations, the building of relationships – all factors were well worth it.  I will also say that I am proud of myself for presenting in front of my peers (which can make you a Nervous Nelly).  I am also proud of all of us that attended (well most of us) for leaving our egos at the door and being able to share our good ideas with each other.

I look forward to keeping in touch with the many people I was honored to become associated with during the conference.  If asked again to be a part of this experience, of course, I would say yes!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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#NAMPC The National Arts Marketing Project Conference – Winning Audiences Day 2

Part 2 of the adventure unfolds!   Yesterday I felt like my head was still at NAMPC while my body was milling around Boulder, CO.  It was a very strange feeling.  This probably can be attributed to not being able to download the entire experience.  I may never be able to do this, but I will attempt to wrap up some of my thoughts and feelings for day 2 of my conference schedule.

Monday

I wanted to mention the breakfast networking opportunity here.  They provided us with a continental breakfast.  It wasn’t bad, but I was severely missing my protein.  However, the chance to have breakfast with a group of people was delightful!  I met some of the best people here.  It was a more relaxed atmosphere since I forced myself to get up to eat at 8AM (I am not a morning person).   Kudos to the conference for supplying these big tables for a more family style network breakfast session.  One of the people I met was Karin Hensley from the National Storytelling Network.  Since my mom is a storyteller, and we had been to the National Storytelling Festival, we had something to talk about!  You never know who you will meet at breakfast.

9:00 – Engage the Crowd to Do Important Things Like Change the World or Meet Your Revenue

This session hosted by Brian Reich was a little bit of a commercial for his upcoming book and for Kickstarter, but many valuable things were said. The main point is that technology has changed the way we function, and there are ways to embrace this new technology to invite our audiences to become more involved.  The perspective is to make sure you tell your story in a way that will spark interest, and to offer incentives that your audiences would enjoy. The funniest comment was, that if your mom doesn’t want to back your project, you are doing something majorly wrong.

Here are my tweets from this session.

10:30 – Winning Audiences on the Go: Maximizing Engagement through Mobile Apps

I really liked this session since David Dombrosky chose a talk show style format where he asked questions he wanted to know and then walked around the audience taking our questions.  The session became a little bit of a 101 since mobile apps are still new to most of us, but I really enjoyed the examples.  The main message was to make sure your website has a mobile version since more people are using their smartphones to access information – this means that you need to style the information down to a mobile format.  If you are squeezing and scrolling, your mobile site is all wrong.  Also, some apps are meant more for branding purposes than for information.  The Royal Opera House chose to do a game app called “The Show Must Go On.”  This app is a little educational to the backstage aspects of putting on a show, but mainly it is for entertainment and to get their brand out.

Here are my tweets from this session.

12:00 Plenary Lunch: Oliver Uberti

For me, this was the most incredible speech of the entire conference.  Oliver Uberti is a remarkable person with an incredible gift.  He is a curious individual that can’t help creating wonderful art, and he is inspired by the world of people around him.  He connects with people to make the impossible, possible.  The main message he gave us is to honor the people that are in your life and connect with them to help each other on your journeys.  He showed us his people connection chart, which completely blew me away that he took the time to figure all of it out.  The arts message was to make sure you can tell your story in as little as one image to bring your stories to life. He gave us several examples of the stories behind the final story photo so we can see that it takes time and effort to come up with excellence.  In his quiet way, he served as an example for all of us to reach for something better.  After his presentation, the room was very quiet for a few moments before the applause started.  It took a little while before someone had the courage to ask a question.  My new friend Greg Fiedler of the Greater Flint Arts Council asked about his spiritual background in order to understand how Oliver became Oliver.   It was the question that was on my mind as well.  How do you become such an amazing human being?

This was a presentation that my phone conked out so no tweets were tweeted.  I was very glad since I was able to absorb this speech the old fashioned way with my full attention.  Every moment was special and worth it!

You can view the presentation here: Livestream/NAMPC.

Before the presentation, I chatted with Bill Nix from the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.  Florida was definitely represented at this conference (Minnesota too).  Bill was gracious to tell me about his collaborative projects.  I hope to get more information in the near future since we traded business cards.

1:45 The New Customer Service: Customizing Arts Experiences for Your Audiences

This session had a challenge of rising up after the Uberti presentation.  They did a fairly good job.  Katryn Geane from Jacob’s Pillow Dance really knows how to engage her audience.  It was refreshing to laugh several times during this session.  It was a well put together presentation with a strong message that you need to go the extra mile for your audiences.  To me, this message is a no brainer, but it is a message that constantly needs to be repeated.  Sometimes we tend to get lazy.  With the new technologies of the day, we really don’t have an excuse.

Here are my tweets from this session (a few are about the plenary after my phone recovered).

3:30 One-to-One Coaching Sessions

I was one of the coaches at these sessions, and I was delighted to speak with four people from very different organizations.  Each situation was unique, but the overall impression I wanted each of them to carry away with is: get to know your audiences to lead you to your audience development programs.  It is time to have focus groups again, social opportunities to meet them in person, customer service that follows up with them, branding that will attract them and databases that capture valuable profile information to cater your marketing specifically to them. It is also time to start outreach efforts so you can meet your potential audiences.  The advice for audience relations programs were different for each person who came to see me, but the bottom line messages I just shared were the same.

5:15 Lightening Rounds of Research

I must say that I was completely brain dead after giving my all to my coaching sessions.  I spent about 5 minutes in this presentation, and I realized I had plenty already to think about.  Plus, this session was not particularly engaging since they were mainly spouting off their research numbers.  I left and found someone interesting to talk to, Drew McManus.  Drew was someone I wanted to meet, and this conference made it possible.  We had a pretty in-depth conversation about the orchestra industry.  Finding out that he is from my hometown area, I’m sure I will meet up with him again for many more enlightening discussions.  The conference proved that it really is a small world.  He knew some of the same people even though I moved from the area during the time he moved in.  My roommate’s cousin-in-law happens to work with my sister.  Strange coincidences, but fascinating to feel connected.

There were Dine-Around opportunities, but I opted for a quiet dinner with my roommate.  We were both utterly exhausted.  Watching some television helped me to unwind a bit too.  I couldn’t think another marketing thought if I tried.  Well, at least until I attempted to get some sleep.   Tomorrow morning was my presentation, and it was playing around in my head all night long.

The next blog will be my last day and final impressions.  Stay tuned for the final day!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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#NAMPC The National Arts Marketing Project Conference – Winning Audiences Day 1/2 and a 1

I recently attended the NAMPC from November 12-15.  I returned last night with a brain full of exciting memories, valuable information, and an upbeat attitude.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to get out of this conference.  I was happy to see that it had a focus – winning audiences – for the entire conference.  I was also delighted that it was a lighter atmosphere than most conferences and that our strong marketing personalities were happy to share with each other our best ideas.  I did not feel a competitive spirit, but rather a collaborative one.

If you had to miss it, click here for all the tweets about our experiences.

Personally, it felt a great deal like camp.  I found my people – others who look at the world similarly to me.  While waiting in the airport security line, a few of us happened to be in the same spot at the same time looking at an advertisement on the wall.  Each of us were dissecting it to figure out what it was all about.  Let me tell you, people look at me strange when I do this in regular conversations, but we were all of like mind and had a great time during our long wait through the line.  This type of scenario happened time and time again throughout my conference experience.  I can’t wait to go back to camp next year if funds allow.

I went to as many sessions as my brain and schedule could allow.  Here is the listing of my schedule for Saturday night through Sunday:

Saturday night – Dine-Around: Engage! Turning online flirtations into offline relationships.

I co-hosted this dine-around with my conference roommate Maureen Carruthers.  We had a great time!  I believe we only went off topic a few times, but ideas to help particular situations were discussed. The overall take away, besides a nice meal and company, was the idea that building a relationship online can be taken to the next levels: email, tweetups, coffee, a shared meal.  This is a natural progression worth implementing.   Maureen and I met via Twitter, and I have also met some other wonderful people via social media.  I have taken the risks of taking my social media engagement to the next levels, and oh boy, I have been enriched with new and amazing people in my life that I will keep contact with.  Projects are being built with these new people, and I am finding getting together with my new friends during my travels are an added bonus to my travel experiences.

When I got back, I hung out a little with the #2amt crowd.  I finally was able to meet David Loehr (one of the founders of 2amt) in person.  Amazing!  After many twitter, phone and Skype conversations – this conference made it possible!  I also tried Kentucky Bourbon Ale for the first time.  Oh my goodness – wow!

Sunday – Keynote – Scott Stratten – UnMarketing

We termed him the “cheerleader” keynote speaker. He was definitely rah-rahing about fantastic customer service and how to use social media effectively that fits your needs and your customers needs.  I agree with how he thinks and the statistics he provided were eye opening.  There were many tweets flying around with his catch phrases as well as tweets on how much people were crushing on him (yes, he wasn’t bad looking – :O) ).  The main message – Be Awesome – people follow awesome, not meh.  Be awesome in all you do! 

You can find his speech here on Livestream.

Tweets around this session time.

10:45 – New Audiences that Stick: Keys to finding first timers who’ll return again and again. 

The panel was knowledgeable and did research to find out the facts and figures about why people attend and why they will come back. The word “churn” was used a ton and would have made a great drinking game.  The main messages of this presentation were to present quality programming that your audiences will enjoy and to build relationships with the people that are attending your core programming.  Using “Killer Offers” to get new people is costly and does not guarantee that people will return.  Focus on the overall quality experiences and follow up with the people that are buying the full price tickets.  Also, improve the overall satisfaction for all patrons.

I was interested in this session due to seeing the report Turning First-Timers into Life-Timers Addressing the true drivers of churn.  This report came to the same conclusions, but stated we need to do the Killer Offers as the main solution.  The group of panelists at this session showed us that although Killer Offers do get people in the doors and did sell more tickets, ROI is higher if you invest in your main audiences.   I agree big time with this and use it as a main audience development tool myself.

My tweets from this session.

12:15 Networking Luncheon with dessert buffet

They had tables with topics and regions spread throughout the ballroom.  I ended up at the least popular table with only 3 other people – Audience Diversity.  Were people scared of this topic?  Seems to me diversity is a big issue for all of us.  The fact that we only had 4 people was a blessing in disguise.  I built good relationships with these people in the short amount of time we had, and we were able to focus on the topic very nicely.  Too bad you weren’t there!

2:15 Hidden in Plain Sight: New Revenue from Existing Audiences

Well, this wasn’t my favorite session, but some good ideas did come from it.  I loved the concept behind the program Duets from the Gallo Center for the Arts (I think) where they matched a senior with another senior to combat the “I don’t want to go alone” factor.  I enjoyed the “get to know you” activities that were a part of this program. The National Steinbeck Center presentation pointed out that collaborating with diverse groups can bring some interesting projects and community pride.  The Ojai Music Festival gave us a peek at how people were purchasing in advance based on the music director (the position rotates consistently), very interesting.  Offering “things to do” for your day pass programs in conjunction with the festival gives your audiences a well rounded experience (ie: hikes, restaurants, etc).  This group also mentioned to focus on return visitors and not just the new.  Another main point of the conference was taking shape.

3:30 was our networking break.

I ended up speaking with Robert Friend of Choice Ticketing to view his new program.  I really liked it.  Yes, sales alert, but if you want ticketing and donation information at a touch of a button combined with easy profiling of your patrons, this is a great choice.

4:00 Making the Market: A New Lens on Cultural Engagement

This was one of the most valuable sessions with a bunch of statistical research from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance’s Cultural Engagement Index (CEI) report.

“This research suggests multiple avenues for increasing cultural participation,” emphasized principal researcher Alan Brown.  “Specific patterns of cultural activity revealed in the CEI, including respondents personal practice activities, can be studied by cultural groups to more effectively engage current and potential audiences.”

Here are my tweets from this session – not much, but a few are worth it. 

6:30 Reception

I had a great time talking with people.  Made friends with Colonel Sanders too!  I will post a pic once my phone has charged.  I wasn’t too thrilled with KFC and Pizza Hut as the food (not too classy), but the music and company were fun.  I ended up going out afterwards with a group and ended up the evening speaking with two playwrights and getting their perspectives – only at NAMPC!

Stay tuned for Day 2 …

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Audience Development and sexed-up arts marketing

I wasn’t planning on blogging today, but I read an article that had my mind buzzing:

Sexed-up arts marketing campaigns a rip off

Xenia Hanusiak, a composer, performer and music reviewer wrote this opinion.  Here are a few excerpts to discuss –

When we are promised ”the experience of a lifetime”, or ”a night of passion” and neither manifests, is there recourse? And if so, from whom do we seek it?

I have to agree with her here.  Unless the show is so amazing that we talk about it in the future, maybe we need to be more honest with our marketing.  I can say as an audience member that I have been hoodwinked more than my fair share taking a chance on these “experiences of a lifetime” hype and instead getting a mediocre production.  These performances are entertaining to pass the time, but they aren’t necessarily full of passion.  The arts need to be upfront about the type of experience they are sharing.  Not all performances and art are going to be mind-blowing, but that is okay.  The art is still worth sharing, but perhaps we need to package it for what it is instead of using language that oversells and deceives.  I’m guessing the problem is that every artist thinks their offering is the “greatest” or the “most spectacular” art that is being offered.  Perhaps we can use our audiences to get some honest feedback before we start promoting to the general public.

In the arts, offering proof before making a claim is a difficult proposition. We are, after all, in the business of subjectivity – one man’s passion is another’s poison. What’s more, in contrast to the commercial market, where product launches and marketing campaigns often go hand in hand, arts marketing is prospective. It is not unusual for marketing, with images and text ranging from confronting to salacious to divine, to arrive in subscription booklets six months before the creative team even sets foot on the rehearsal stage…

So, is using scantily clad models for your opera subscription false advertising when they won’t appear on stage? Is promising ”the greatest show on earth” or ”the experience of a lifetime,” an unsubstantiated claim?

I’m curious to hear what you think about this.  I do feel we need to be a little more responsible in how we sell our offerings.  Even though we do not have an organization that regulates our marketing, this should not mean that we don’t have an obligation to sell our art in an honest light.  Think about the audiences that are getting duped.  They will feel the old bait and switch has happened to them.

Or take the practice of misrepresenting from reviews for marketing purposes. All too often, the following occurs. A review reports that the entertainment at hand has all the ingredients for a thrilling night, but the production fails. Marketers cut and paste the single word ”thrilling”, magnify it on rooftop billboards and splash the out-of-context word on full-page advertisements.
I am in total agreement here too.  Taking a review out of context is distasteful and can ruin your reputation even more than a bad review.

Many similarly pernicious marketing trends exist, but my biggest gripe is the recent trend in classical music to popularise its product like a pop experience. This, in my view has been one reason for the public’s ambiguous response and falling attendances.

The disconnection promotes a disingenuous relationship. Why not take the road of it’s ”the real thing”? It is, after all, centuries old, it will never be hip – so represent it for its authentic self and perhaps people will respond. Arts marketing that promises to make Lady Gaga out of Beethoven doesn’t just mislead through hyperbole. It disrespects artistic authenticity.

This is where I part ways with her line of thinking.  I do feel that the classical music world needs to package the experience in ways that are relevant to today’s audiences.  If Mozart were alive today, do you think he would have settled for the same old boring classical music wrapping that we have been producing for decades?  Heck no!  He would have been a creative “pop” sensation in all that he did to sell his music.  The “real thing” can be “hip again” if we showcase it the way it was originally meant to be showcased.  You see, classical music was only put in a stuffy wrapper after the elite highjacked the genre.  Before then, the classical composers of the day were the rock stars of the day and they would perform for everyone and anyone.  They were flashy in their own way.

Classical music can be exciting again. I get excited when I see Beethoven produced in a more modern fashion.  It’s still the same amazing music that it will always be, but if it is performed in a way I can stand up and cheer, which some movements deserve that type of response, I bet more diverse audiences will be able to relate to it again.  As I mentioned in the past, traditions are only traditions because “we” make them so.  Change the traditions then!

For the most part, I agree that we need to be responsible for the marketing that we put out there.  I understand that you think you need to super hype it up in your marketing language to attempt to get an audience these days.  However, there will be more harm done to our industry than good if we continue to not present our art with more honesty.  Audiences will start to take “sensational” to mean something more mediocre.  “The once in a lifetime experience” will become the “last thing I want to attend again.”

This means, there is no replacement for high quality art.  If you have something that is high quality, something buzz worthy, this is when it is completely okay to “sensationalize” your marketing, because it will be the absolute truth and nothing but the truth.

What do you think?  Please feel free to comment by leaving a reply. 

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Descriptive audience development

This will be a quick one this morning.  I received a marketing email for a concert.  It said:

“Join us for a night of unforgettable music the entire family will enjoy.”

Everyone uses this language, which is why it is getting easy to ignore. If it didn’t spark an idea for this blog post, I would have deleted it. I have in the past.

What makes this night unforgettable?  What type of music?  Why would the entire family enjoy it?

It’s time to get more descriptive and start answering these direct questions so people know exactly what your event is about. People need to get excited about your concert through your marketing.  If you are using the same old tired marketing jargon, it is not going to entice the way it needs to.  There are tons of juicy adjectives out there to pump up your marketing and to speak directly to your audiences.  If you are not particularly gifted at copywriting, find someone who is.

We are creative people. It is time to be creative with all we do!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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Audience development and parking…

There has been talk around the twittersphere about the importance of parking for audience development.  One of the biggest reasons why patrons do not come back is not quality or programming, but parking!  Costs are also a factor.  How can this be?

The discussion started via an article that is being sent around:

How Symphonies Grew Strong Audiences By Killing The Myth Of The Average Consumer

In 2007, several orchestra managers joined forces to analyze their collective marketing challenge. A pro bono third-party study by Oliver Wyman (Audience Growth Initiative) found that on average, symphonies lost 55% of their customers each year; churn among first-time concert-goers was 91%! …

The symphonies compiled a list of 78 attributes of the classical music experience, from the architecture of the hall to the service at the bar to the availability of information on the Internet. Using online surveys and other techniques, the list was whittled down to 16 factors with the greatest impact on attendance.

Horns and strings! It turns out the quality of the orchestra, magnificence of the hall, and virtuosity of the conductor were not particularly important attributes. What was? Drum roll! The most powerful “driver of revisitation” was parking! As with other orchestras, veteran members of the core BSO audience had figured out where to park, but trialists identified it as a huge hassle–so they didn’t come back. Another driver was the ability to exchange tickets; trialists found the “no refunds, no exchanges” policy a deal breaker.

Many people have been surprised to see that parking is this big of an issue, but honestly, I am not.  Think back to your own experiences.  Unless there is an event that is a “must see,” if I had trouble finding parking, I will not go the next time.  If the experience leading up to attending becomes a hassle, and the discomfort level outweighs the experience, people will not return.

Here was the list of the 16 main factors they had sited in the study:

Core Product

  • Repertoire
  • Hall
  • Contemporary music
  • Enriching experience
  • Orchestra prestige and quality

Music Enhancement

  • Music information
  • Live commentary
  • Special effects

Hall Access

  • Access
  • Parking
  • Ability to attend

Social Experiences

  • Social outing
  • Bar
  • Orchestra club

Transactional

  • Planning and purchasing
  • Exchanges

In looking at this list, the hall access and transactional were the biggest factors for the reason why people did not return.  This means that the customer service side of your arts business may need attention. The overall experience for the event – before, during, after – needs to be addressed to make your audience members comfortable and happy.  When people are delighted with the overall experience, they are more likely to come back.

This entire report is worth looking at since it goes on to discuss how to keep the unconverted trialists through “killer offers” based on the fact that discounts have the most leverage for increasing single ticket sales. However, the point that it is more cost effective to build relationships with your current attendees due to higher ROI over the years was duly noted.

All in all, the message from this report is clear.  We need to value all of our patrons in ways that they will feel valued.  Making it easy and enjoyable throughout their entire event experience and building relationships with them is definitely the way to go.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

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