Subscribe: Gene Carr's Patron Technology Blog
Preview: Gene Carr's Patron Technology Blog

Patron Technology

PatronManager CRM: One Database for Ticketing, Marketing, and Development

Last Build Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:00:15 +0000


Phone Still Reigns Supreme… For Now

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:00:15 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Elise Rebmann, Renewals & Retention Manager, Patron Technology. 
Even though many feel that telemarketing in today’s society is much more intrusive than it once was, phone calls thanking patrons for their support continue to increase retention and lifetime giving. The field of telemarketing has had to evolve quite a bit in the past decade with the rise of regulation, changing preferences, decreasing landlines, and the myriad of digital channels for marketers and fundraisers to choose from. 
I actually still have an old-fashioned landline, but like many people in this day and age, unless I recognize the number, I don’t answer. Because of this, a new technology is now becoming more popular for companies that still want to use the phone as their main marketing tool, but recognize they might not be able to reach their targeted audience with a phone call — ringless voicemail. These are messages that are dropped into your voicemail box without your phone ever ringing. It’s been around a few years now, but it recently popped onto my radar as it has been in the news a lot this summer.
The whole topic has gotten very political. One service provider asked the FCC to exempt this practice from anti-robocall rules. One political party supported the move, and the other party (along with consumer advocates) opposed it. The FCC public comment procedure began and the whole idea was widely considered terrible, so the company withdrew their request… at least for now.
I received my first ringless voicemail message on my mobile phone about two weeks ago. While I was pretty horrified by this practice based on the recent news coverage, my ringless voicemail message was from my local art museum and it simply said:
This is Patty and I’m just leaving you a quick message to thank you for being a member of the museum. We couldn’t do our work without your support, and we hope you’ll have time to stop by our new exhibit next month.
I deleted it of course, but it made me feel good about supporting this organization. It felt more personal than ...

The post Phone Still Reigns Supreme… For Now appeared first on Patron Technology.

Marketing & Development: Shifting from Competition to Collaboration?

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 13:00:18 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology. 
Every non-profit organization relies on two departments to generate revenue.

Marketing is tasked with the job to sell tickets to performances resulting in earned income for the organization.
Development is tasked with raising money from patrons who are interested in supporting the mission and programs of the organization resulting in contributed income.

Traditionally, both departments are siloed off from each other, protecting turf and justifying their work. While each department focuses on different revenue motivations, both must work with the patron to achieve a positive outcome. However, in today’s world, both marketing and development need each other more than ever.
If we think about the traditional patron pipeline (Attract, Retain and Upgrade), marketing and development historically had defined roles. It was up to marketing to put customers in the pipeline — attract them. Development was also trying to attract customers to become donors. For development departments, most annual fund donors came to them from the attract phase of marketing. Each department had very little reason to work with other. So, in effect, you had two competing pipelines:

Competition escalated once the customer was in the pipeline as marketing was trying to turn the single ticket buyer into a subscriber or a lower level subscriber to a higher level. Meanwhile, development was trying to cultivate both the single ticket buyer into the annual fund or the subscriber into becoming a major donor! Despite this conflict, both departments managed an uneasy coexistence. Marketing took care of the transactional part of the customer experience while development took care of cultivating the patron experience.
Today, in many arts organizations this relationship is evolving into a new model that focuses on cultivating a shared patron experience. The dual pipeline has now evolved into a patron loyalty loop with marketing and development sharing the responsibility for the patron experience.

What factors are driving this evolution? There are a number of areas but two (patron behavior and technology) stand out. Let’s examine both.
Changing patron behavior has had an enormous impact on organizations. Some factors include:

Patrons moving away from subscriptions and toward single ticket purchases.
Patrons grazing across multiple arts organizations, sampling individual events ...

The post Marketing & Development:
Shifting from Competition to Collaboration?
appeared first on Patron Technology.

First-time Subscribers: Are You Inadvertently Turning Them Away?

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 13:00:45 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Shasti Walsh, Training Specialist, Patron Technology. 
Dear arts marketers: I am your prime target.
I’m a long-time arts fan and frequent single-ticket buyer to many different organizations. I’m also reaching a point in my life where I’m a bit more financially secure and my schedule is a little more predictable. Two years ago I bought my first choose-your-own package of six shows at my favorite local performing arts organization; this year I upgraded to a full season package and started looking at introductory packages at other organizations. When I receive a brochure, via mail or email, I read through it for shows that interest me, and if I find more than three or so, I start thinking “Hmm, maybe I’ll try a small subscription this year.”
But recently, on two separate occasions, I planned to buy first-time subscription packages but have yet to follow through. Why?
Dear arts marketers: I am also your classic shopping-cart-abandoner.
In the first instance, I received a mailing from an organization I visit regularly. The brochure was gorgeous. The images were exciting, the show descriptions were compelling, and a few different pages mentioned that I could build my own subscription starting with as few as three shows — I was hooked! I made it all the way through the brochure, circling the shows I was most excited about along the way, eager to buy my first mini-subscription to the organization and lock in my seats in advance. I got to the end of the brochure, credit card in hand, ready to place my order, but there was no order form. 
Then I went back to the beginning, looking to see if I had somehow missed the part where it listed any details about various package options, such as the price, or where it said “To order your subscription, _____”, I hadn’t.
I then went on their website and clicked around until I found the “subscribe” link. I chose the build-your-own option on the menu and tried to add the shows I had circled in the brochure, but it turned out only one of those shows was available with a build-your-own package — the rest were ...

The post First-time Subscribers: Are You Inadvertently Turning Them Away? appeared first on Patron Technology.

Paralysis by Overanalysis: Giving Your Customers Less Choice Might Be a Good Thing

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 13:00:42 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Christy Warren, Educational Development Manager, Patron Technology. 
Have you ever had a time when you couldn’t seem to make a decision? Maybe you were trying to decide between the practical car or the fun car. Or maybe you were trying to decide which item on the budget would get trimmed for the upcoming fiscal year. Or you were programming your next season and had several compelling options. You made your pros and cons lists. You thought, “If I sleep on it, the answer might come to me tomorrow.” You asked the opinions of others. But nothing seemed to get you closer to committing to an actual decision.
This happens to me all the time, and I’m constantly battling my brain to make a decision already. It’s called paralysis by overanalysis (or sometimes just paralysis by analysis). Basically, you become so overwhelmed with information on a particular topic that you have a hard time making any decision at all.  
This doesn’t just happen with large decisions, which is a common misconception. There’s a great interview here with behavioral neuroscience writer Jonah Lehrer, who talks about his personal experience with trying to make a choice in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. Yes, something as mundane as cereal can cause paralysis. He goes on to say the prefrontal cortex can handle only about seven pieces of information at a time, so it’s easy to overwhelm that part of your brain that makes decisions.
So, in essence, the more information you add to the situation, the harder the decision becomes. Because of that, it’s best to rely on the emotional centers of your brain in those instances. In other words, trust your gut. You have to look at the facts, too — but if your gut is pulling you in a certain direction, there’s good reason to listen to it.  
There are many articles and resources on how to reduce paralysis by overanalysis, so I’m not going to overload you with another list here. But I do want you to consider how this phenomenon affects your customers. Does too much information or choice ...

The post Paralysis by Overanalysis: Giving Your Customers
Less Choice Might Be a Good Thing
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Think You “Don’t Need No Stinkin” Backups? Think Again!

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 13:00:50 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Erin Madden Ramirez, Project Manager, Patron Technology. 
In mid-May, 2017, a massive cyberattack hit more than 150 countries (source: NPR). This attack exploited a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system (OS) allowing the hackers to hold victims’ data hostage. Literally. As in, the hackers don’t allow you to have access to your data unless you pay them the ransom they demand (hence the term “ransomware”).
Europe and Asia took the brunt of the May attack. Hopefully, your home and business computers were unaffected, but you should always be prepared. It’s just a matter of time until the bad guys find a new vulnerability and try, once again, again to ruin things for the rest of us. Fortunately, there are three key steps you can take to minimize your chances of falling victim to such attacks:
Step 1: Backup Your Data!
When asked for advice, NPR’s tech reporter Aarti Shahani said, “Have a way to have your data backed up in a trusted cloud provider or an external drive because the fact is if you backup your data, this kind of attack loses its fangs” (source: NPR). I would add the word “regularly” to the quote above. Backup your data regularly (and by regularly, I mean at minimum once a week). That way, if something goes wrong, you lose at most a few days of data, not weeks or months.
Note: You should even plan on backing up data that lives in the cloud in the first place. Search your provider’s help documentation or speak with their support team for recommendations.
Whether you’re backing up your personal pictures and documents or your business’ critical files, the best place to save your backup is in the cloud. Why? Firstly, keeping your backup in your home or at your office means that backup is vulnerable to flooding, fire, etc. Secondly, reputable cloud-based storage providers have more resources available to them than you as an individual or as a small-to-medium business has to put the latest security and encryption measures into place. That means your data is safe yet still accessible to you.
Set it and forget it! Check ...

The post Think You “Don’t Need No Stinkin” Backups? Think Again! appeared first on Patron Technology.

Is the Customer Part of Your Customer Service Plan?

Thu, 29 Jun 2017 13:00:14 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology. 
As the executive director of Anchorage Opera, I was once asked to speak at a training session for box office, front of house staff, and volunteer usher corps at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage, Alaska. Each year the entire staff underwent customer service training and Nancy Harbour, the executive director, asked members of the resident companies to come and give a brief talk about their upcoming season and the role that the arts center’s staff plays in assisting the resident company with its patrons. Each resident company was given a fifteen-minute presentation slot.
Since I had never been asked to speak to a group such as this before I spent time thinking about the role that customer service plays in an organization. This is especially important as often organizations don’t own their own performance spaces and work with performing arts centers.
So many organizations profess to have exceptional customer service. The fact is that it is easy to serve a large portion of your patrons by simply doing your job. But what happens when simply doing your job isn’t enough to deliver a superior customer experience?  Does your staff know what to do? Are there processes in place and are they empowered to deliver superior customer service? What if, ( as is the case at the Alaska Center) the group of people that provide service to you don’t even work for you?
When it came time to give my presentation the room was packed with a hundred or so volunteer ushers, box office and front of house personnel. I began by thanking all of them for being a part of Anchorage Opera. As a group, they were the most valuable and visible extension of our organization. From box office to front of house and usher corps, even though they weren’t on our payroll, they had a tremendous amount of influence to shape the experience of our patrons attending opera performances.
To the box office staff, I said that your first interaction with a potential opera patron begins to shape their experience even before they purchase a ticket. Have ...

The post Is the Customer Part of Your
Customer Service Plan?
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Live Streaming Events — Audience Builder or Destroyer?

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 13:00:17 +0000

It seems as though every time a new entertainment technology achieves mass adoption, there is always a question as to whether it will mean the end of the “live” experience. Starting with the advent of television, a variety of technologies were predicted to kill off the live event. Initially, television was going to turn all of us into homebodies, never venturing to a live event. Then the VCR was purported to do the same thing — if you could rent Romeo and Juliet, why would you go out to see it live? And the list goes on, including HD TV and the Internet itself.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve always been a fan of the live streaming of arts events by all organizations — not just the mega-organizations such as the Met Opera. Fortunately for lower-budget organizations, the prices of cameras and bandwidth continue to go down, and with them, the barriers that once prevented these small organizations from attaining the capabilities of live streaming. Additionally, with services such as Facebook Live, and others following down that path, there’s now an instant no-hassle publishing platform.
That’s why I was particularly interested in an article by Anne Torreggiani, the CEO of the UK-based The Audience Agency, which describes itself as a “mission-led organisation, which exists to give people better access to culture, for the public good and the vitality of the sector.”
Her article delves into a study done by a handful of performing arts organizations in the UK that stream live arts events. The article goes on to say:
…those attending screenings seem to be more frequent attenders [of live events], and it looks as though there could even be a traceable causal effect, with screenings serving to increase the frequency of their engagement.
As we might expect, older audiences who enjoy streaming events find the proximity of the event and the ease of going a significant factor. I have heard this personally from relatives in their 80s and 90s who attend streaming arts events in retirement locations such as Florida. The article also explains that on the other side of the age spectrum, ...

The post Live Streaming Events — Audience Builder or Destroyer? appeared first on Patron Technology.

Your Patrons Love Scripts On Stage, But Not In The Box Office

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 13:00:35 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Matthew Robinson, Senior Implementation Specialist, Patron Technology.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I dread calling up customer service representatives. We all have a nightmare story about the time you called “Company A” and they treated you so poorly that you’ll never do business with them again. Don’t worry; I won’t ask you to relive that maddening experience. In fact, just for good measure, take a breath.
I was worried that I was going to have a situation like that a couple of weeks ago: I had rented a Zipcar, the well known car-sharing service which allows you to rent a car for a couple of hours at a time. But, when attempting to return my rental to the parking spot reserved for it, I noticed another (non-Zipcar) car parked there — I immediately got a knot in my stomach. After checking the “Someone is in my spot!” button in the app, I accepted that I was going to need to call and talk to someone…
Within the first minute of the call, I explained the scenario, and the Zipcar rep said: “Oh man, that’s so rude of them.” This comment was quite a turning point in the conversation, because (as far as I’m aware) no company would script that kind of off-the-cuff reaction. I knew I was working with a real person.
I understand the draw of scripting calls from a management standpoint: you can ensure that the same information is getting to the customer regardless of the employee with whom they are talking. While you may gain a level of consistency, you lose the personal connection which will keep your patrons engaged with your organization.
I may be overly critical of the practice, but as a customer, I find it a little insulting when a company scripts a conversation with information which can (hopefully) be found on their website. Most scripts also try to replicate a personal connection with phrases like “I understand that must be frustrating for you” or “please know that your call is important.” When I hear that, I know that my input is not truly going to affect this conversation. ...

The post Your Patrons Love Scripts On Stage,
But Not In The Box Office
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Managing Humans: Getting Started as a Mentor

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 13:00:04 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is the fourth in a six-part series by Rachel Hands, Senior Manager, Client Administration, Patron Technology. Click here to start at part one. 
In our last post in this series, I made the case for investing the time and energy in mentoring relationships, even if your team is small. If you’re new to mentoring, this post is designed to help you understand how to gauge whether that’s what’s needed, how to get started, and what to expect from each other as a mentor/mentee.
The main purpose of any mentoring relationship is to help the mentee set and reach career goals. If you’re approaching this as a mentor, you have a few jobs in this relationship:

Listen to the mentee, and ask questions about their interests and goals.
Help them clarify goals that might not be fully formed.
Help them identify and access the resources they need to meet those goals.
Help them identify and make plans to develop the skills they need.
Hold them accountable for acting on those plans.
Act as an advocate for them in areas where you have influence and they don’t.

Here are a few questions to consider as you approach a mentoring relationship from the mentee perspective, to help you decide if a mentorship is the right fit:

Do you know what you want to do in your career, or what opportunities exist in your field?
Do you know what resources or skills you need to succeed at what you want to do?
Does the prospective mentor have the means and expertise to help you develop and meet those goals?
Do you trust the prospective mentor to advocate for you?

Let’s focus for a moment on the question of what it means to be an advocate. In some cases, being a mentor/advocate might mean asking the board to budget for a promotion or salary raise for your mentee; maybe it means convincing your organization’s leadership to implement cloud-based systems that allow folks more flexibility to work remotely. Advocacy (sometimes also described as sponsorship) is especially important if the mentee is not at the beginning of their career and doesn’t need as much guidance ...

The post Managing Humans: Getting Started as a Mentor appeared first on Patron Technology.

The Rise of the Intelligent Machine

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:00:56 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kirsten Main, Account Executive, Patron Technology. 
Each year, the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) releases an annual report highlighting top trends they believe will be highly significant to museums. These are trends that are apt to shape the ways museums engage with visitors, and will also likely affect how institutions equip themselves and their communities for the future. I always enjoy reading through the Trendswatch report because the identified trends are sometimes unexpected, always well researched, and inevitably worth exploring.
This year’s report (which can be downloaded from the CFM site here) did not disappoint. One identified trend that caught my eye was the one titled ‘The Rise of the Intelligent Machine’, which immediately made me think of HAL, the good computer gone bad in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Watson, the mega-machine that beat the pants off Jeopardy’s two greatest human champions in 2011.
The report goes on to discuss artificial intelligence (AI), and how its emergence holds both promise and peril. Whether AI is heaven sent or hell bent is being hotly contested in Silicon Valley at the moment — the April edition of Vanity Fair magazine has an excellent article on the debate — and is not likely to be decided soon. After all, the topic of AI brings up some heavy questions. Does the fate of humanity hinge on how we handle AI today? Will we all turn into cyborgs? Will AI vastly improve our lives?
While Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are duking it out over humanity’s future, I’m intrigued about what the AI trend means for museums. While it’s fun to imagine the fantastic (the Terminator leading a museum tour, or Roombas going crazy in galleries), the reality is that AI is already on the scene. Here are a few places we have already seen — or will see in the very near future — AI at work in the museum landscape:

Exhibits and programming aimed at educating and informing visitors about AI — what it means, who it affects, how we society will make decisions around its use
As a tool to handle museum data sets ...

The post The Rise of the Intelligent Machine appeared first on Patron Technology.