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Marketing in a Recession

0 March 5, 2019

Jeff Barker understates his success with the “$30 off on any single ticket purchase over $70″ offer. He has explained to me that the Kansas City Symphony’s ticket prices don’t easily approach $70 in any combination. They are either far less (requiring the buyer to commit to more events) or far higher (diminishing the impact of the discount.) As he notes, this wisely-chosen price point generated a great deal of business, but barely impacted the average per-ticket price the Orchestra has enjoyed this season.

I make the point because Jeff’s offer is outwardly focused, and designed to motivate a higher frequency of attendance from established customers. This is the complete opposite of the frequent mid-season price slashing of all seats to $25 per ticket (or so) I have been observing since the first of the year.

This kind of offer depends on selling a huge volume of tickets, though I question if that volume is properly quantified and projected before the offer is made. The timing, too, is problematic. Occurring early in the calendar year, it happens just as renewals are (or should be) mailing to established subscribers who are paying far more per ticket. And it trains single-ticket buyers, who comprise a very high proportion of the next generation of subscribers, to ignore subscription offers and wait for a better deal later in the season.

It also makes the organization look desperate. It’s best if these kinds of offers can be triangulated between the buyer, the Orchestra and a third party sponsor or promoter. If a company can be seen as making the offer on behalf of the Orchestra (perhaps as part of their sponsorship package, even if they are just being handed the credit for the offer), it eases the perception that the Orchestra has hundreds of unsold tickets to dump on the market.

After saying all this, I have always favored the “Ticket prices begin at $10″ offer. It’s clearly for the lowest priced ticket, not all tickets. It also addresses the perception that ticket prices are too expensive. And I like the $10 ticket to be available by phone only. It makes the phones ring, and the well-trained box office staff will “up sell” to a better seat at a higher price.

Any other considerations of pricing?

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