As we conclude our discussion, it appears clear that price, while important, is not the main driver of ticket sales. And concentrating too much on price may do more harm than good. Why plant the seeds in the patron’s mind that they can purchase a good seat at any time for a song, when you are also asking them to make a subscriber commitment for the long haul? And will our patrons still want to donate to and support an organization that appears to be fighting for its very survival?
It’s no secret that retail is suffering in this environment. Take Macy’s, for example. It would be very easy for them to announce a huge, nationwide sale where every item is sold for just $1. They would move millions and millions of items, but would lose their identity in the process - becoming the “Everything’s a Dollar” store instead of Macy’s, and looking desperate in the process. That’s what I fear many orchestras are doing today. If the special, unique aspects of a concert are properly promoted, then the concert becomes a bona fide special event, not to be missed — people will pay to see that. We must look to our product and remind ourselves of what makes our live symphonic presentations so special to people, then craft messaging that hits people where they live!
In Kansas City, we are enjoying a very healthy renewal campaign for the 2009-10 season. (Fingers crossed!) But this didn’t happen by chance. We examined every concert in every series. Concerts that didn’t have great potential or didn’t fit with the texture of the series were replaced with those that did. We asked ourselves, “Why subscribe? What’s in it for me?” Then we built our campaign around those answers. Stripping everything down to basics and building upon the fundamentals is never a bad thing.
What if this economy is not a fluctuation, but the new “normal”? Then we all may forced to do some of the things that we should have been doing all along.