27 Jul 2018 | Audience Development, Marketing
Looking for more form your loyalty campaigns? Sometimes it's all about taking a look at your memberships with a fresh set of ideas and a bit of energy to try something new!
Membership or Friendship schemes, whichever name you decide upon, there’s no escaping that they’re of great importance to your organisation. In the current climate, where costs are rising, and there is serious competition for grants and funding, if you can build a base of returning customers, you’ll be in a strong position to take your organisation to the next level.
Membership and Friendship schemes also help you to build meaningful relationships with your customers - they are the friendly faces that your box-office staff get to know and share a joke with, and for these customers, they feel the reward of positively contributing towards something in their community. This type of relationship is priceless - if you can make someone feel like this, they are sure to recommend a visit to their friends and family, widening your customer-base even further. Yes, newspaper critics’ reviews of current shows are always helpful, but nothing is more powerful for building a strong, loyal customer base than word of mouth.
It’s important to keep your customer base in mind when building your loyalty programme. There is little point in creating a membership scheme which costs £500 if you’re based in an area where that would be 50% of the average monthly salary. This will alienate your customers and likely result in a poor-performing membership programme.
One of our mantras at Ticketsolve is “Fail Fast” and what we mean by this is, be bold enough to try new things, but humble enough to realise when something doesn’t work. The best way we find ‘to fail fast’, is to test a small subset, and if it works there, roll it out to the rest of your customer-base.
We know that virtual currency memberships are powerful, where customers can build points to get free tickets, or customers get 10% discounts on shows, but this type of discount gets boring, customers realise 10% doesn’t really work out to be that much in the grand scheme of things and anyway, your venue is a receiving house, so a 10% discount isn’t really something you can do without ending up out of pocket yourself.
So what other things can you offer as a reward for loyal customers which will entice a first time customer to return, time and time again?
Who doesn’t love getting into a preview before the rest of the crowd? These type of rewards are easy to implement and can really help to make a customer feel valued. There is also the added benefit of getting some social media buzz around your new show ahead of the grand opening, and getting people interested via word of mouth, rather than relying on advertising alone.
2. Priority Tickets
Another benefit that’s easy to implement - allow your members to purchase tickets in advance of the general public onsale. This not only creates excitement around the event for your members, but will also make the rest of your audience eager to purchase as they see members’ discussing online how they have already secured tickets, and could even push them to become members because they too want the ability to purchase advance tickets.
Free stuff. Who isn’t partial to freebies?? Yes, you could give free tickets to select shows once a year, but there are other free things you could give - what about show posters? Merchandise that hasn’t sold well, programmes, members' t-shirts, quarterly brochures in the post, tours of backstage, free coffee at your café on certain days of the week - there are lots of small free things like this that you could give your members, which are of small cost to you but mean a lot to your patrons.
Members’ only competitions are another lovely idea which can really build a loyal following. The prize is up to you: free tickets, some piece of technology, a free year’s membership, an invitation to an exclusive event - it’s really up to you. People love competitions because they’re fun and winning always feels great! Clever contests spark interest and also make your members feel more involved and connected to your organisation.
5. Exclusive Events
Season launches, special events, members’ Christmas parties, fundraising events - inviting your member to these is another perk that you could offer instead of a monetary discount. It comes with the added benefit of making your members feel like an important piece in your organisational puzzle.
6. Standby Tickets
The show is sold out. Your valued member was on holiday or didn’t have the funds at the time of your member pre-sale. So the next best thing you can do is to give them dibs on any standby tickets that might come available!
7. Special Members-Only emails
People love to be in the know and this is a really easy one to get up and running - you could send monthly members’ mails which have exclusive information about upcoming shows, developments at your organisation and news about any special events which might be coming up.
8. Invitation to AGMs
Invite your members to your yearly AGM and let them have voting rights in the direction of your organisation. This is a fantastic way to really make your members feel like they have a part in the direction of the organisation and that their voice matters.
It’s always great to look at industries outside our own for inspiration and then borrow simple things and try them in our own organisations. A good example is Starbucks’ app which allows customers to order and pay for drinks directly from the app - this is something that you could easily introduce if you already have an app - a small thing, but this extra service would be really welcomed, especially at busy shows.
10. Call for Feedback
Ask your members for their honest feedback about how you could improve things at your venue. While we all strive to get things 100% right, it’s hard, and when we’ve worked somewhere for a long time and are used to the ways things are done, it’s hard to see how things could be done any other way! So what better than to ask your loyal members for their opinion. They’ll be delighted that you want their thoughts and will feel like they’re really valued. Take on board what they say and show how you’ve implemented their ideas with personalised emails or by calling them out for their great ideas in your monthly members' mail and general newsletter. This will encourage other members to speak up and also show people outside your memberbase how much your organisation actually values the voice of its loyal members.
These are just a few ideas of how you could reward your members without going straight to the 10% discount. We feel some of the most rewarding of benefits are those which make your members feel a kinship with your organisation, where they understand their contribution is truly appreciated, where they know they are a valued voice and where they are aware that they are a much wanted presence, at the very heart of your organisation.