Fundraising Playbook: Easy Steps to Kickstart Your Arts Fundraising Strategy

Over the last couple of months we have been putting together a suite of  “playbooks” (a set of ideas, strategies, game plans etc.) to help our customers with a variety of aspects of their organisations. Our playbooks are easy to follow guides giving you ideas, and clear how tos on everything from box office best practices to fundraising and marketing and loyalty.

The playbooks use benchmarks or Ticketsolve user averages throughout, which gives you an idea of where you and your organisation compare to other Ticketsolve users. This is a great concrete way for you to create your own roadmap for success on any given project. 

Fundraising Playbook: First in the Series 

To date, we have only shared these playbooks with our users, however we wanted to share some of them with a wider audiences, as we found that Ticketsolve users find them extremely useful.

Below is our Fundraising Playbook, which will give you benchmarks and a deeper insight into how to jumpstart your own fundraising campaigns. Right at the end, you will also be able to download the playbook so that you can keep it as a quick how to guide. We hope you enjoy it and please let us know what you think.

Getting Arts Fundraising Right For Your Organisation

We all know how important fundraising is in the arts. With budgets getting tighter and funding drying up, fundraising has become even more crucial to arts revenues. However, it can be difficult to know if your fundraising strategies are on the right track. Is there a better way of raising funds? What are best practices in fundraising inside and outside the arts? How do we increase per patron donations? All valid questions that are hard to answer, especially if you are only looking at your own data.

Enter Ticketsolve fundraising benchmarks. We have utilised aggregate data from over 250 organisations in the Ticketsolve community, to provide you with a benchmark of where others are with regards to fundraising, along with insights on how to improve fundraising efficiency and effectiveness in the arts. 

Benchmark

Turn the Dial to Kickstart Fundraising

Keep in mind, the above are averages. Some organisations are making significant strides in their fundraising and donations activities, while others have identified clear areas for improvement.

So what exactly are the successful organisations doing? What strategies are they using to improve their overall donation percentage, and the amount given per donation? We spoke to some organisations who do particularly well with fundraising and donations, and shared their ideas below, along with some ideas of our own. We haven’t gone into too much detail below, as you can download the playbook yourself to see all of the hints and tips.

Use the Right Hook

Engaging audiences is job one of any donations strategy. But if you can’t get your customers’ attention right away they may never even get a chance to fully engage with you. The right hook, an attention grabbing headline or title can be all it takes to capture your audience’s interest. Consider changing the title of the support us page to make a bigger impact.

Establish an Emotional Connection

You’ve hooked  them, so now is the time to engage them. Your copy needs to be targeted, engaging, lively, impactful, and interesting to read. Think about using real stories or people in your copy. Using the correct narrative that really speaks to your audiences is the key ingredient to encourage patrons to leave a donation. Be clear on why you need their donation now, what the donation is for and how their generosity will help.

Nudge Tactics

Another option is to try a “nudge” tactic. For example, people are often influenced by their peers, a simple message of: “Did you know that 40% of all our theatre attendees left a donation,” is a little nudge to show customers what their peers are doing, and encourages them to do the same.   

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

Images, videos and the like are another great way to capture people’s imagination and attention. The Greenbelt Festival incorporate a fantastic image that quickly explains their mission. The image clearly shows how working together will help the festival grow and thrive. Check out Greenbelt’s Support Page for a great example of image use on a fundraising page. 

Donation Prompt

Adding an auto donation to the cart is bad practice, and likely to upset customers. In addition, donation legislation is a definitely fuzzy, so rather than worry about opt in or opt out for donations, it is better to provide a donation prompt for customers. Prompting the donation puts the choice of donating into your customer’s hands.

Follow Up Email

Our Mailchimp integration allows you to create automated emails as soon as a customer leaves a donation. It is really important to do this immediately, as you want to thank those customers for leaving a donation. The thank you email, is a great way to continue building customer loyalty.

As we said, we have only included a few of our ideas above, please feel free to download the playbook by clicking below. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be releasing more of these playbooks so keep an eye out for them.

Like what you read? Want more? Sign up below for more helpful content from Ticketsolve!

 

Ticketsolve UK User Day: Networking, Learning, Sharing

We were delighted to host our UK User Day at Leicester Square Theatre in London, on the 5th of October this year. With a fantastic turnout, the event was a great opportunity for all of our current and potential users  to get out of the office for the day, and learn about all things box office, marketing and of course Ticketsolve.

If you couldn’t make it on the day or are just interested in what happened, we have written all about it below. If you would like to get a copy of any of the presentations from the day, please get in touch at talktickets@ticketsolve.com we’d be happy to forward them on.

Welcome

To kick off the day, Paul, our managing director, opened the day with a big welcome, and outlined what the day had in store. The day was packed full, but with plenty of time for everyone to get to know each other during lunch and after the event.

Session 1: Using Digital Marketing to Grow Ticket Sales

Christina Jones – Black Type Digital

Christina Jones

Christina Jones, MD of the digital agency Blacktype Digital, spoke about how to best use digital marketing techniques to boost ticket sales. She focused on remarketing, one of the best opportunities to re-engage customers to purchase tickets. Christina also spoke about Facebook chat bots which seemed to be an exciting area; however the technology is still very new, so only time will reveal its ultimate effectiveness.

If you want to know more about how to utilise the tools that Christina spoke about, please get in touch with our lovely support team – they can help get you started.

Session 2: Creating the Perfect Campaign Playbook

Paul Fadden – Ticketsolve

Paul

Paul jumped back on stage to talk through our latest playbook: How to Create the Perfect Campaign. It’s a seven step plan that is really easy to follow:

  • Set a clear goal
  • Who is your audience
  • Build Your Message
  • What channels to use
  • Budgeting
  • Engaging content
  • Adapt your campaign

We have each playbook available in digital format, and we will be bringing out some blogs in the near future to share them all with you. If you can’t wait until then, please get in touch with us at talktickets@ticketsolve.com and we will be more than happy to send it on.

Session 3: Customer Profile: How Hertford Utilise Ticketsolve to Optimise their Marketing Activities

Emma Parlow & Rebecca Butcher – Hertford Theatre

Emma & Rebecca

Hertford Theatre showcased how they use Ticketsolve to develop their marketing strategy and improve the effectiveness of their campaigns. Both Emma and Rebecca said that rather than change the platforms that they use, they dramatically changed how they use those platforms. Below are some of the key areas of improvement:

  • Mailchimp – Each email that is sent out, is targeted to a specific segment of their audience. This has lead to a huge increase in open and click through rates along with increased ticket sales from those specific campaigns. Another big improvement was the use of automation in targeting first time customers and lapsed customers.
  • Facebook – They now post more behind the scenes stories which has increased engagement with their audiences. Taking advantage of Facebook remarketing and conversion pixels, allows them to target their audiences, and also understand the success of each campaign.
  • Segmentation – Emma and Rebecca also discussed their use of Ticketsolve’s Your Reports, which they use a lot to segment each customer for individual campaigns. 
  • Google Analytics – Using Google Analytics much more deeply, Hertford can see each digital marketing campaign that they run, see how many people come onto the website from that campaign and more importantly see how many tickets are sold from that campaign. They also have a cool dashboard emailed to them on a weekly basis.

They also finished the presentation with some takeaways for everyone and it was all centered around “don’t worry, try it, if it doesn’t work, tweak it and try it again”.

Session 4: Fundraising Tips & Tricks

Nick Stevenson – Ticketsolve

Nick

Nick took everyone through Ticketsolve’s Fundraising playbooks. We know that everyone in this industry is busy and normally do multiple jobs. And while some are lucky to have a full time fundraising team, for many this is not the case. The ideas in the playbook are designed to so that you can really start seeing increases in your fundraising activities without having to do much at all; more with less. Some of the main points from the talk were:

  • Using the right hook for your fundraising pages
  • Establish an emotional connection with your audiences
  • Nudge tactics
  • A picture paints a 1000 words
  • Recommend a donation
  • Donation prompts through the booking journey
  • Follow up with customers one they leave a donation
  • Have clear goals
  • Create specific fundraising campaigns
  • Get buy-in from the whole team

Session 5: GDPR – Facts from the Fiction and How the Sector Can Use the Changes to Their Advantage

Oliver Mantell – The Audience Agency

Oliver Mantell

Oliver from the Audience Agency delivered an excellent presentation on GDPR. Nothing scary at all – just focused on the main change: accountability. Luckily enough the Ticketsolve system is good to go with GDPR, but their are some organisational changes required such as appointing a data controller and so on. Before the presentation, everyone was a little apprehensive however Oliver made GDPR sound like a walk in the park, and you could see the relief on everyone’s faces by the end!

Session 6: Box Office Best Practice Playbook

Aoife & Katy – Ticketsolve

Katy & Aoife

Katy and Aoife have both worked in venues previously as box office managers so who better to deliver this insightful and educational presentation! It was all about how box office teams can implement ideas to improve their customer service, box office efficiency and sales. Some of the points that they covered were:

  • SMART goals
  • Make use of downtime
  • Train staff on the value of data
  • Implement a call script for the box office

Session 7: Ticketsolve Future

Paul – Ticketsolve

This was the session that everyone was looking forward to the most – even us Ticketsolvers! We couldn’t wait to show everyone what is coming down the tracks. Paul began with showcasing some conclusions from the front end project. There were some really telling stats, for example, the average conversion rate on the legacy front end was around 1.8%, but with our new front end – conversion rates are up at the 6% mark. Paul then moved onto the big unveiling where we showed everyone our new back end. We’ll be sharing more over the coming months – so stay tuned! 

Session 8: Ticketsolve Tips and Tricks and Q&A

David & Conor – Ticketsolve

We closed the day with David and Conor talking about helpful tips and tricks, and how to get the most out of Ticketsolve. They then opened up the floor to questions which generated some interesting discussions. 

Well, I hope that has given you a flavour of what the day was like. As we mentioned above, if you would like copies of the slides or playbooks, please drop us an email at talktickets@ticketsolve.com.

Dynamic Pricing: Why Your Organisation Needs to Leverage It Now

We’ve all experienced dynamic pricing in various scenarios, whether it be purchasing airline tickets or a paying for a taxi. Its a standard across multiple industries, and well known for raising profits for businesses that use it. Yet, its estimated that only about one-third of businesses are using dynamic pricing to bolster their bottom line. If your organisation falls into this category, its time to re-examine why, and consider how to best implement it.

What is Dynamic Pricing?

Dynamic pricing, also called real-time pricing, is a flexible pricing model. The goal of dynamic pricing is to adjust prices in response to market demands. If implemented correctly, arts organisations can drastically improve their profit margins, but testing and experimenting with different strategies is imperative.

Allocation-Based Dynamic Pricing

With allocation-based pricing, a organisation offers a certain number of tickets at one rate. When those sell out, an additional tier of pricing becomes available, and so on, and so on.

Date-Based Dynamic Pricing

With date-based dynamic pricing, the organisation schedules rate increases as the show date nears, regardless of how many seats have sold.

Why Dynamic Pricing Works

Depending on which survey you check, average revenue increases range from 10-40% after dynamic pricing is added. The benefits to the organisation are obvious, but what of the benefits to the consumer? No doubt, this is the part that can upset even the most loyal customer base.

 

As an end consumer, I feel quite ambivalent towards it. Im usually a late booker, so I generally suffer at the hands of dynamic pricing, but your customers dont have to feel like its something they must suffer. While most of us think of it like we think of Uber and airline ticketsgetting gouged for buying at the last moment – this is really a public relations issue. Consider how you position it; something like happy hour at the neighbourhood pub. Its the exact same concept, but turned around. Customers know they can get a better deal by showing up earlier, and so some plan to go early and catch the deal. Getting the lower-priced drinks is a reward, but showing up after happy hour ends is no punishment, even though you pay slightly higher prices.

Best Practices for Dynamic Pricing Rollout

You want your patrons to view your dynamic pricing scheme like they do happy hour, not like Uber or airlines. To do that, youll need to plan your rollout with them in mind.

 

Be Transparent: Transparency is key. No matter what pricing scheme you go with, make sure all marketing materials mention how youre pricing tickets. This way, they wont feel duped by paying higher prices later. Instead, it will serve as a positive motivator to plan and get tickets early.

 

Hype It Up: Monitor your sales and publicly mention how close you are to the price increase. The scarcity of lower-cost seats will motivate people to take action. Use social media and your website to play this up and encourage early bookings.

 

Reward Loyal Customers: Give your loyal customers a leg up when it comes to scoring lower-cost tickets. Let them know through email and social media that youve released a certain number of tickets or are providing an early bird sale just for them. Boost prices when you begin your main marketing campaign or whenever your early bird allotment sells out.

 

Test: Start by testing dynamic pricing on a single show. Then, use A/B testing and experiment with which type of pricing scheme works best, what prices to set, and what timelines to use.

 

Research: Dynamic pricing may not be a good fit for every show, so do a little research and see what types usually sell out and when most tickets are sold. You may find that some of your shows are the type that people plan their week around, whilst others attract people who are merely looking for something to do as the weekend approaches. The latter is not likely to command higher prices, while the former most certainly will. Your A/B testing will be very telling.

Dynamic Pricing is Included in Ticketsolve

As part of our ongoing commitment to helping theatres improve their profit margins and deliver the very best customer experience possible, Ticketsolve allows you to create a custom dynamic pricing strategy with just a few clicks.

 

Our dynamic module allows you to create multiple ticketing allocations which can be set up according to best available pricing.

 

In the example below we have 4 Pricing Allocations, once the first allocation (cheapest) is sold out the next cheapest allocation is then available, which is fully visible to the consumer.

In the example below there are only two allocations available as the other two have been sold out.  

Before engaging in dynamic pricing, it is best to do a trial on only one show. Extensive research will help you determine what pricing schemes will work with your audience base. This is something that can be trialled on a single show, and extended out from there.

Ready to Integrate Dynamic Pricing?

Ticketsolve is here to help. If you’re a current Ticketsolve user in need of assistance, feel free to reach out to our 24/7 support team at any time. If you arent using Ticketsolve to boost your organisations revenue and improve your customer experience, wed love to walk you through dynamic pricing and all the other powerful tools we offer. Contact us today for more information.

Welcome to Aoileann!!

We’ve had a busy, busy summer – between user days and new developments – we’ve been going full throttle.

During the summer, we were really excited to welcome a new member to our ace support team: Aoilenn! If you haven’t met Aoileann (pronounced Eee-lin) yet – no doubt you will soon! Aoileann comes to Ticketsolve with a depth of box office management and front of house experience. She has experience in event management, arts administration and has worked with festivals and cultural institutions across Dublin.

Aoileann’s festival experience is bar none, having worked with the Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival and significantly, having helped coordinate the Gaelspraoi for Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival, which programmes and manages all the Irish language activities for the festival.

Her theatre work includes work with The Ark, and The Project Arts Centre. In addition, she has excellent production and media experience. To say we are excited to have Aoileann on board is an understatement. An amazing arts professional, with great enthusiasm she is already a core member of our team.

Pop her a mail if you have not already, and welcome Aoileann!

Understanding GDPR and the Arts

From 25 May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect. In the UK, GDPR will replace the UK’s current data protection regulation, DPA, and although this is an EU regulation, UK organisations will still need to comply. With less than a year to get ready, this post will take a look at what changes you may need to implement to get ready for GDPR.

Over the years the amount of data companies and organisations collect from customers and Internet users has become staggering. There are very few services, products or sites that do not collect some amount of data from their visitors. Combine this with the advent of wearable technologies that collect data constantly, and it becomes clear why data protection has become incredibly important to regulators, customers and organisation alike.

What is GDPR?

GDPR will replace the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive, and will apply to all organisations in the UK, Ireland and across the EU. The GDPR emphasises transparency, security and accountability by data controllers, while at the same time standardising, and strengthening the right of European citizens to data privacy.

At it’s core GDPR is about explicit consent

The significant change that GDPR brings is threefold:

  1. Customers must give explicit consent to data gathering.
  2. Data protection authorities will have more robust powers to tackle non-compliance, including significant administrative fining capabilities of up to €20,000,000 (or 4% of total annual global turnover, whichever is greater) for the most serious infringements.
  3. It will be considerably easier for individuals to bring private claims against data controllers when their data privacy has been infringed, and allows lawsuits for compensation even in cases of non-material damage.

What Do Arts Organisations Need to Do to Comply with GDPR?

Build awareness about the change and what GDPR will mean for your organisation, especially the tougher penalties.

Make an inventory of the personal data you hold and how it is managed.  Consider:

– Why are you holding it?

– How did you obtain it?

– Why was it originally gathered?

– How long will you retain it?

– How secure is it, both in terms of encryption and accessibility?

– Do you ever share it with third parties and on what basis might you do so?

Create a plan for any changes that you need to make in your current process. Under GDPR individuals will be able to request an audit of the information you hold on them, so you will need a clear plan in place to deal with such requests and other GDPR requirements. Your plan needs to include:

  1. Who will be responsible for handling GDPR requests?  Remember requests must be processed within one month, and must be free of charge to the individual making the request. Individuals have the right to access their data, have inaccuracies corrected, have their information erased and object to direct marketing.
  2. What are your procedures for detecting, reporting and investigating a data breech? Who will be responsible? Remember that all breaches must be reported to the DPC or UK equivalent, typically within 72 hours, unless the data was anonymised or encrypted.
  3. How is customer consent currently being managed? How do you currently seek, obtain and record consent? What changes do you need to make to this process? Remember under GDPR consent must be freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous. That means they must be completely aware that they are consenting to the processing of their personal data, and know exactly what they are consenting to – there can be no doubt. Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity is not consent.
  4. What information do you give individuals prior to processing data? Remember before gathering data, you need to let people know: the legal basis for processing the data, how long you will retain their data, and their right to complaint. And you must communicate all of this in easy to understand language not legalese.

GDPR and Brexit

If you process data about individuals in the context of selling goods or services to citizens in other EU countries then you will need to comply with the GDPR, irrespective as to whether or not the UK retains the GDPR post-Brexit.

The UK Government has indicated it will implement an equivalent or alternative legal mechanism. It is expected that any such legislation will largely follow the GDPR. This is supported by the support previously provided to the GDPR by the ICO and UK Government as an effective privacy standard, together with the fact that the GDPR provides a clear baseline against which UK business can seek continued access to the EU digital market.

In Summary

GDPR will become effective in May 2018. In preparation, your organisation should do a data protection audit and develop a plan for change where necessary. Remember:

  • Consent is required to be freely given
  • Requires positive indication of agreement
  • Customer has the right to be forgotten

As new information becomes available we will of course provide updates, but keep in mind compliance with GDPR is the responsibility of the individual organisation.

Please contact us if you have further questions, we are happy to offer guidance and assistance.

Content Marketing: Creating a Message Map

How do you create a consistent message for multiple customer personas? What about other people you may need to communicate with? Press, affiliates, partners, suppliers, etc.? What about the need to create content for a variety of social media channels and formats?

Consistent messaging is at the core of good content marketing, but with multiple targets, it can be difficult to stay on message. We are going to look at how you can create a one page message map that the whole team can use to create consistent messaging across a variety of targets and channels.

Why a message map?

Consistency with multiple messages

When you are using multiple channels for your message, it can easily get watered down or lost entirely. Twitter content is different than content for your newsletter or Facebook. A message map ensures that all your salient points will get across regardless of the channel you need to use.

Consistency with multiple authors

Another good reason to use a message map is so that no matter which team member needs to create content, it will always have a consistent voice.

Consistency with facts and clarity in message

A message map is really about distilling your message into its central point. It also allows you to support your message with concrete facts. The combination of this means you can really get to the heart of your message for all your target audiences.

What does a message map consist of?

A message consists of a “home base,” which is your central message. “Positive Points” extend from the home base with the proof points and support for your central message.

Home Base

This is your central message. It needs to answer “what’s in it for me,” for all your target personas. This is the overarching idea you want to get across.

Positive Points

These are the the supporting points for your main message. You should have no more than four positive points to support your central message.

Proof Points

These are the next level out and provide concrete evidence to the positive points. These proof points will be granular and specific and can contain stats and facts or quotes etc. The key here is that the proof points are a logical support to the positive points above them.

Take a look at an example of a blank message map below.

As you can see, everything branches from and supports the central idea. That central idea is something all your personas (including any partners, press etc.) would be interested in and care about.

Below, we’ve filled in the message map with information from a fictitious family music and arts festival:

This one is very basic, but as you see, you can add as much detail as you want to the proof points. The key here is that all the main points are in one place.

But what about multiple personas?

Targeted messaging is a must, and this is where a message map really comes into its own. Rather than multiple maps or multiple messaging docs, you can create one message map for all your personas.

If you think about, messages for each persona are going to overlap. What matters to one persona will matter to another, but not everything will overlap. Within the message map, you can colour code each message that maps to each persona. Overlaps and differences in messages can be easily seen and tracked.

 

In our festival case above, you might consider parent personas, as well as teens and maybe even couples. While couples may not be interested in the kids activities, they would be interested in the cheap tickets, good parking, nice camping etc. By colour coding you can keep all your messaging in one place and have consistency across personas.

The idea here is to have one central message, but with many angles that are all linked. This allows you to create incredibly consistent and powerful messages for your all your customers.

So how do you get started?

One piece of advice here is to get your team together, and have each person create a message map on their own. This will quickly give you a view into how consistent your message is within the team. Plus this gives you a great starting point for creating the message map you will all use. Having your whole team involved in the process will ensure consistency, clarity and buy in.

Message maps can be used for marketing shows, membership drives, donation activities and even interviews. So they are a great tool in your marketing arsenal.

And remember to come back to refresh your map(s) . . . things change.

Why not give it a shot and see how you go? If you are interested in more specific help – let us know!

How to Create a One Page Marketing Plan

We talk a lot about digital marketing and marketing in general on our blog. There is a lot of talk at the moment about one page marketing plans, so this week, we wanted to take a step back, and look at how you can create an effective one page marketing action plan to help keep your team on track.

Why A One Page Plan?

The idea behind a one page marketing plan is to create something that has laser beam focus. Traditional marketing plans tend to be a wieldy, and while very important, they can often be difficult to use in a practical sense. A one page plan has the advantage of forcing you to think about exactly what you need. It strips away the nonessentials – it gives you a working  marketing plan.

So, let’s dive straight into our one pager:

Mission and objectives: (1-2 lines) This needs to be as specific as possible. So rather than simply stating: we want to focus on audience development, try and put a number on it. “We want to increase our south eastern regional audience by 20% in the next 8 months.” You may have several objectives, which is fine, but keeping them quantified and tightly defined will keep you and your team focused as you get to work on your marketing.

Customers: (1-2 paragraph) This is where you define your main customer persona. You can have a few of these if it is warranted. Be sure to make these as detailed as possible, and also to include a little bit about how they find you. You will need to include any new customers you plan on targeting as well.

Budget: (3-4 lines) Budget details here should show where the splits in the budget will be, e.g., offline versus online etc. Don’t worry about getting overly specific here, this section is really all about getting an overall picture of what you have to work with. This can also be refined as you learn and change your plan as you execute.

Routes to Market (digital/inbound and outbound): This is potentially your largest section, but again specifics here are necessary so you can track success. Consider previous years data on what has worked and what has not, and don’t forget to include a few experiments to try to keep your marketing game pushing forward.

Specific tactics: This should include any specific incentives or other programmes you intend to implement. This is a great chance to really think outside of the box. What kind of promotions might you consider? What are some affiliate programmes you could implement?

Content creation:  Whether inbound or outbound marketing is your focus, you will need to produce content, and of course traditional collateral. Consider what you have already, and what you need to get produce to support your marketing initiatives. Here is where you need to outline your key messages.

Metrics, Measuring and Analysis: Here, you want to outline specifically how your marketing will be measured and tracked. It is a good idea to define exactly how often you will review information, so that you can create a heartbeat of measurement and analysis of your marketing activities.

Those are the basics. If you really wanted to, you could slim this down even further to just focus on:

  • What are my objectives (really)?
  • Who are my customers?
  • What are my messages?
  • What avenues will I use to reach them?
  • How will I measure my success?

With these you can add more detail with added customer personas and a map of the customer journey. These plus a content calendar and a message map (i.e., what are the core messages you will be focused on) would get you nearly all the way to a go to marketing plan that is easy for your team to take in and execute.

Keep in mind, the idea of a one page marketing plan is to help you and your team focus and give you a usable document to work against. It is also not necessary for the one page plan to focus on a whole year – it could be shorter if that is what works best for your team.

In short, if it isn’t going to help your team – don’t do it. If it does help you get some clarity on where you efforts need to focus – then go for it!

If you are interested in seeing some sample one page marketing plans, give us a shout! We’d be happy to share a few with you. Happy planning!

Customer Experience is Everything

Customer experience is becoming the biggest differentiator in a sea of choices for customers.

Customers go to shows for a variety of reasons. Maybe it is that particular play or production, maybe it is a gift, maybe it is a family day out, or maybe it is a yearly event for them. Regular patrons will have other reasons for attending as well. Why they attend is certainly important; it helps to frame your marketing and promotion. However, their experience for the whole of the customer journey can be a big differentiator.

Take for example, Pantos. For many families, Pantos are a yearly tradition. For many families it isn’t necessarily whether the Panto is about Cinderella or Snow White – it is the simple fact of attending a show that matters.

Or what about festivals? There are so many festivals to choose from, how do customers decide which ones to attend given their “yearly festival budget”

So how can you differentiate in these cases?

Customer Experience as Differentiator

Marketers are predicting that the real differentiator will come in the form of customer experiences. And that is not just at the given show – but that differentiation comes long before your customers set foot in your venue.

So what are some experience differentiators? Let’s start with marketing. How do you use social media and other marketing channels? How do you engage customers on them? What is your voice? Are you constantly trying to sell to them or are you giving them something they are interested in? These can all be differentiators.

What about your site? Is it user centred? Can they get to information quickly and easily? What is the purchasing experience like? How many steps does it take to get to finish a sale? How secure does it feel to your customers (not how secure it is, but rather what they perceive it to be)?

Stepping through each of these steps will give you a sense of how you can maybe look for points of differentiation or making things easier for your customers.

Mobile First Strategy

More and more mobile purchases are becoming the norm. Optimising for this ensures a good customer experience. In addition, consider the use of mobile apps to help the customer experience. This can run from the simple to the complex, but can provide a great experience for customers and a great way to connect. For festivals this is a no brainer: festival schedule, maps, safety info etc., can all be easily accessed on mobile apps.

Better Use of Technology for Customer Service

There is no denying that customers like talking to a human. But they also want answers fast. Newish technologies such as Intercom and the like make it easier (and faster) to address customer issues. These are absolutely no replacement for actual humans, but it is far better to offer your customers more options for customer service than less.

Balance Between Online and Offline

So a caveat. Technology can help you improve your customers’ experiences for sure. But there is a balancing act here. On the one hand customers want convenience and a smooth buying experience, which technology can most certainly provide (when done right). On the other hand as we connect more digitally, we risk the personal, “humanness” that customers also want also. Offline experiences require attention as well.

This balance is definitely achievable with the right partner. But it is worth looking at how to weave both sides together for a more perfect customer experience.

Making the Switch: Change Doesn’t Mean Pain

First a big apology. We have been silent for about a month! We have been hard at work, but are excited to get back here on the blog!

 

It’s not you, it’s me. I think we should just be friends. I’ve found someone else, I just don’t love you anymore.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it shouldn’t be that way when you want to change your ticketing platform. Of course changing providers can feel daunting, but it really doesn’t have to be. In this post we will take a look at why you might want to consider a new ticketing platform, what to consider before making the change and some tips on making the transition easier.

It’s Just a Rough Patch: Or Everything is Fine, Really.

There is no denying that in every relationship a little rain must fall, and that is absolutely true when it comes to our relationship with software we use everyday. Maybe it was cost, maybe it was exactly the system you needed at the time, maybe you inherited the system or maybe that was all there was at the time. Whatever the reason, there is good cause for the platform you have now. And sure it can be annoying now and then, but it gets the job done, right?

The thing is, unlike a personal relationship, your box office software relationship really needs to deliver. Deliver on time savings, on optimising workload – and ultimately helping to grow audiences and sales. It also needs to be able to grow with you. Anyone in a long time relationship will recognise that change is inevitable. In the case of your box office software, if your software cannot grow with your changing needs, no matter how much you love it, it is not delivering on what it should.

Ask yourself: does our platform help our organisation grow? Does it delight our end customers? Is it keeping us abreast of technology changes and changing buying behaviours?  Does it make sense financially? Are we missing opportunities because our software is holding us back? Do we really understand our audiences and their buying experience? Is it delivering on our goals? Do they have deep industry knowledge? And on a personal level, do you think you will get on with them?

We would never advocate change for the sake of it, but if your current platform is not delivering on aspects that are important to your organisation, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Change Doesn’t Have to be Challenging

Full disclosure: the above title might seem disingenuous, since we are a ticketing platform, but hear us out. Did you ever get the feeling that when you do decide to make a change roadblocks start popping up? For example, with some platforms you don’t actually own your customer data, which locks you down. Or maybe you get told that porting your data to another provider, “just is not possible.”

That is, in part, why we have worked so hard to ensure migration is smooth and seamless for those coming onboard with Ticketsolve. We provide a dedicated migration team to each onboarding. We take care of all the data migration, so you don’t have it. We want you up and running with Ticketsolve fast – so you can results fast too. Plus, once you are up and running with Ticketsolve, updates to the software happen weekly and automatically, so you never have to deal with costly downtime.

Sounds Too Good To Be True You Say?

Of course there can be hiccups, we do our best to make sure the process is as smooth as possible. But there are some things you can do help make the transition easier.

People

Start talking to your teams straightaway – even before you make the decision to change providers. Let them give insight on difficulties they are having and what they think is positive and what their dream platform would be like.

And don’t stop talk! Keep your teams in the loop the whole way through the process so they fully understand the process and have a chance to ask questions. Having your teams onboard will make a huge difference to your transition.

You will get push back – it is inevitable. Change is not easy. Work with your teams to help them to really understand the need for change.

Training

Make sure that whichever platform  you choose, that they provide your team with all the training they need to get up and running. Ideally it should be part of the transition process – not an extra cost.

Be Realistic

There may be he hiccups, and some staff may get frustrated. With the right prep (and the right platform), it can really be very smooth and easy.

Set Goals 

Sit with your potential provider and go into detail about what your goals are, and how they will help you achieve your goals. Setting these goals means that you can really track how well you are hitting your milestones. 

Enjoy It

Obviously this is a big change, but don’t be daunted, enjoy it! Keeping positive about the change will make the process much smoother and exciting.

Don’t Take Our Word For It!

We have done almost 300 onboardings; interested in learning more about our process? Give us a call!

Happy Birthday To Ticketsolve

I am going to get a little personal this week.

So my daughter turned 11 this year. At 11 she is in the throws of tweendom: the requisite eye rolling, attempts at teen-like snark are intermingled with the desire for cuddles, and protests of, “but I am still a little kid!” 11 years have positively flown by, and as my daughter recently told me, “you know the arrow of time never stops dad.” Too damn right.

Around the time of her first birthday, I embarked on a different adventure: 10 years ago, was when we founded Ticketsolve.

If I am honest, 10 years ago feels like a lifetime ago – and not at all that long ago – all at the same time. I can vividly remember my daughter’s first shaky steps, just as well as I can remember our initial meetings around a very nascent online box office idea. At the time, we were running a pretty successful software consultancy firm. And while I loved that, being a programmer at heart, I really wanted to build something that would be different. But making the leap to Ticketsolve was a definite risk – especially when I was thinking of my young family.

In those early days, it was so clear that the arts community was sorely lacking in options. Options that were affordable yet, provided a really polished professional system that could help arts organisations build their online presence. After all, in 2007, internet purchasing was really only just beginning to take off. Jameson International Film Festival was our first collaborator, and user number 1 on Ticketsolve. That early collaborative work, was the pattern that set all our collaborations going forward – it is the perfect way for us to work.

Back then we were a very small team – I mean microscope. Everyone did everything! We worked our proverbial a*&%s off for sure. Long nights working, not made easier by a wee one at home, but still we were building something amazing and we knew it, though we were not without our stumbles along the way for sure.

I think what I am particularly pleased about though, is that after 10 years, and countless hours, we have maintained that drive to bring the best possible solutions to the arts communities in Ireland and the UK. It is incredible how much the platform is grown, and I love that we still work collaboratively with customers.

But what I am most proud of, is our team. We are a little bigger now of course, but I am constantly amazed at how much our team manages to do for customers and for the system each and every day. The women and men on the Ticketsolve team are truly fantastic – and we would absolutely not be where we are today with out them.

Ticketsolve has definitely been a labour of love – and a team effort; not without it’s ups and downs. Sort of like raising my daughter I suppose: a labour of love, a team effort, and DEFINITELY lots of ups and downs.

So happy birthday to my two favourite tweens – I am incredibly grateful only one of them is capable of snarking eye rolling.