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Last Build Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:00:02 +0000


What This Puppy Can Teach You About Your Patron Experience

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:00:02 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
Let’s face it, dogs have family, cats have staff. As a dog person, I believe there is just nothing as cute as a puppy.
So when I was asked recently to be the auctioneer at a benefit auction for a local high school, something I’ve done numerous times, I assumed the evening would pretty much be your standard fare silent and live auction with a lot of different auction items. But, what I didn’t know was that a Bernadoodle, (a cross between a Bernese Mountain dog and a Poodle) would be one of the auction items offered during the evening.
The live auction featured twenty-five items, travel to exotic locations, box seats to professional sporting events, and one-of-a-kind collector’s items, all experiences, things that you couldn’t go out and purchase easily or at all.
As organizations, especially performing arts organizations, you are in the experience business. Your patrons can consume anything, but they come to you because they crave an authentic experience. Auction items that are built on experiences will always attract more bidders and will always be more inviting to your patrons. Now back to our story.
So the live auction was underway and the bidding was lively thanks to a four person auction team coaxing bids out of well alcoholed patrons. The more unique the experience, the more money the item brought in at final bid. About halfway through the live auction, Irish, the eight-month old Bernadoodle, was quietly introduced to the crowd.
The breeder took the dog from table to table, all over the room. Patrons got to hold Irish, pet Irish, snuggle with Irish. In short, patrons got to sample the experience and what a cuddly sample it was for them. By the time Irish made it to the auction block the stage was set. The only thing left to discover was just how much an experience with Irish was worth.
The bidding set in with five to seven bidders with a starting bid of $500. (Note: the value of a Bernadoodle on the open market is between $1,600 – $1,800.)  The bidding shot past ...

The post What This Puppy Can Teach You
About Your Patron Experience
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Managing Humans: Hiring

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:00:33 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is the first in a six part series by Rachel Hands, Senior Manager, Client Administration, Patron Technology.
We talk a lot on this blog about cultivating your relationships with your patrons, because we believe those connections are at the core of your organization’s success. But there are also other relationships that are equally vital to a thriving organization: those among your staff. In this series we’ll be looking at ways to foster the relationships on your team.
Let’s start at the very beginning of your relationship with your (future) coworkers: your job posting. I happen to believe that a good job posting has three key qualities: it’s accurate, it’s inclusive, and it sells the job to the right candidates.
It may seem obvious, but I focus on accuracy first because the job description in your posting is your first opportunity to establish trust with your new colleagues. It can be tempting to highlight the parts of the job that seem the most interesting in an effort to encourage more people to apply, but you’re better off outlining all the most important functions of the job, even the ones that might seem dull to you. (You’re hiring someone else to do this for a reason, right?)
Even if you’ve posted for the same job before, it’s worth re-reading your posting language to confirm that your expectations for the job haven’t changed. If your initial description of the job doesn’t line up with the day-to-day reality, it can undermine the candidate’s trust in you and make it harder to establish a good working relationship.
In addition to being accurate, the language you use in your posting should be as inclusive as possible. That means the posting should be as neutral as possible about any attributes of an applicant that don’t directly impact their ability to do the job. (The former HR Council for the Nonprofit Sector in Canada has posted some good guidelines on this topic.) Some things to consider include:

Watch out for gendered language (check out the link for examples that are more subtle than “you’ll be great at this job if you’re a numbers guy” or “we offer ...

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Wanna Be a Member?

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 13:00:33 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Shasti Walsh, Training Specialist, Patron Technology.
I’m a “member” (in the sense that I have a username and earn some reward points) with a particular online hotel booking company. I signed up partly because there were some perks involved (earn a free stay!) and partly so I could comparison shop my favorite hotels without creating 8,000 bookmarks in my browser (I like to travel). It’s been working pretty well.
Recently I opened the company’s mobile app to book a particular hotel. I was offered a deal — 10% off! — just for booking via the app. Yay! Then I remembered to log in, and went back to book the hotel. I was offered a deal — 5% off! — for being a member. Yay!… wait a minute. What happened to that 10% off from a minute ago?
I logged out and back in a few times to make sure I hadn’t misread things — nope, it was definitely going to cost me MORE to book the hotel if I told them I was a member. So I logged out and booked the hotel, and then called customer service to sort out the rest. The call rang through right away — yay! — and the representative looked up my account. “Oh, I see you’re a member! Let me transfer you to our premium care department.” I then waited on hold for seven minutes, which is seven minutes longer than I had waited to talk to the non-premium care department.
That was all a bit frustrating and silly, but it’s not related to the arts, right? Being a member of an arts organization is nothing like having a login for some global corporate website. Subscribers, members, donors, even your board of directors — you have many ways to invite people to become stakeholders of your organization and members of your community. I’ve got those kinds of memberships too, and they mostly feel like personal, meaningful relationships with organizations I love.
But there was the time I attended a show as a full-season subscriber, and loved it and felt very proud to be connected to an organization that was making such great art… ...

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The Most Important Marketing Questions Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part III

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 13:00:51 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
We wrap up this series of blog posts on the most important marketing questions your organization should be asking by looking at the final part of the pipeline:
Attract + Retain + Upgrade = Marketing Revenue Success
If you missed the first two posts in this series, you can find them here: Part 1 and Part 2.
At the end of Part 2, we left you with a question to help you prepare to upgrade your patrons:
What percentage of your subscriber base also includes your donors?
This question is critical because it goes directly to the subject of patron loyalty. Patron loyalty goes beyond just supporting your organization with donations. If your subscribers aren’t supporting you with donations, you are losing out on an opportunity to deepen your relationship with them. You also run the risk of losing them from year to year because they may become more fickle about your organization’s programming.
Subscribers who are donors more often get involved in your organization beyond a financial commitment — they also become your volunteers, event committee chairs, board members, and vocal ambassadors for the organization in the community.
Let’s look at a real-world example. Let’s talk about coffee.
There’s a growing commitment in communities to support local businesses over chains. In the retail coffee shop market, Starbucks is the 800-pound coffee bean tree in the room. However, local shops in communities all over the country are flourishing despite Starbucks’ tremendous foothold. Why? Well, let’s look at the pipeline of a coffee shop.
Your single-ticket buyers in the coffee business are those people who drop by for a quick cup of coffee. Maybe they are traveling and need a pick-me-up to keep them going, or perhaps they are meeting a friend or colleague at the coffee shop for the first time.
Multi-coffee buyers, similar to multi-ticket buyers, come in a few times per month, maybe on the weekends while running errands. During this period, the staff of the coffee shop gets to know them by recognizing that they come in often. They may give a discount on a cup of coffee, invite them to ...

The post The Most Important Marketing Questions
Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part III
appeared first on Patron Technology.

The Most Important Marketing Questions Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part II

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 14:00:01 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
In Part 1 of this marketing blog series, we introduced the following concept:
Attract + Retain + Upgrade = Marketing Revenue Success
We established that this concept is a pipeline in which organizations seek to move patrons.
New patrons, first-time single-ticket buyers, are the most expensive segment to attract. Every first-time single-ticket buyer has the chance to become a subscriber and perhaps a donor, thereby embarking on a lifelong relationship with the organization that can generate tremendous goodwill and financial gain. Although this is the optimum relationship, there are a lot of steps in between.
At the end of Part 1, we left you with a question:
What is your conversion rate from single-ticket buyer to multi-ticket buyer?
With this question we move further down the pipeline. Once you have that first-time ticket buyer in your theatre, what do you do next? This is an area where a lot of organizations get ahead of themselves. They want to go from single-ticket buyer to subscriber-donor in one fell swoop. In the process, the organization often scares the first-time ticket buyer away by asking for too much commitment too quickly.
Let’s put the situation into a familiar context that we all have experienced to some degree. When you asked someone out on a first date, you were using the date to learn about that person, right? If the first date went well, what did you do next? Did you ask your date to marry you? Probably not, because you didn’t know the other person well enough to ask for that big of a commitment. You asked for a second date. So, if you wouldn’t jump from first date to married in your personal life, why would you let your organization adopt this as a marketing strategy?
Let’s return to the question of a single-ticket buyer conversion. Does your organization know the rate at which you convert a first-time single-ticket buyer into a multi-ticket buyer? How would you even go about measuring this conversion rate? Well, if you know how many first-time single-ticket buyers you attract each season from your ticketing system, it should be easy to ...

The post The Most Important Marketing Questions
Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part II
appeared first on Patron Technology.

The Most Important Marketing Questions Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part I

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 14:00:31 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kevin Patterson, Senior Account Executive, Patron Technology.
Each and every day, most organizations work to improve their business. They try lots of different approaches, yet more times than not they fail to achieve the results they need in order to be successful. Recently, in a conversation with a marketing director, I was asked to name the three most important reports that organizations should be running to help achieve marketing success.
When I asked why she was asking the question, she remarked that she was trying to filter out the noise of data that blasts her every day and instead focus on key factors.
Truth is, there are more than three keys or reports you can run to achieve marketing success in the performing arts. More often than not, if you focus on one simple concept then the data you are going after is very valuable to your business.
The concept is:

Attract + Retain + Upgrade = Marketing Revenue Success
Within this concept there are a lot of meaty questions. Every business must attract customers, retain them by getting them to come back, and over the long run upgrade or upsell them. It is a simple pipeline. That said, many organizations today don’t understand the underlying questions behind this simple concept. Let’s break it down.
In the performing arts if you aren’t attracting new buyers of tickets and subscriptions, you won’t be in business very long. Most arts audiences are 55 and older, so every organization must continually reach out to new potential ticket buyers as audiences age.
How many first-time single-ticket buyers did your organization attract last season?
If you think of the Attract + Retain + Upgrade concept as a pipeline, then Attract is the mouth of the pipeline. You want that mouth to be as wide as possible. One organization has a goal of attracting 15,000 new ticket buyers every season. They build strategies and implement tactics to achieve the goal and have benchmarks throughout the season to measure how they are performing.
First-time ticket buyers are the most expensive to attract. They require more time, money, and human resources. You can’t just walk out on ...

The post The Most Important Marketing Questions
Your Organization Should Be Asking – Part I
appeared first on Patron Technology.

Data Integrity — What’s It Mean and What’s the Big Deal?

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 14:00:09 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Ameris Poquette, Client Administrator, Patron Technology.
The term “data integrity” is one that gets thrown around a lot, especially in reference to large data sets and data security. But what exactly is data integrity, and why does it matter to you? More specifically, how can better data integrity help you better reach your patrons, and cultivate a more engaged following?
At its core, data integrity just refers to the accuracy and consistency of your data. Think about the patron information you’re currently housing. Is it all information that you need to have on file? And is it easy to access any (and all) of the information you need to access when you need it? If the answer to either of those questions is “no,” then you might need to improve your data integrity.
Having clean and accurate data is important, and the ability to frequently and appropriately engage with your patrons and donors can be invaluable as an arts organization. A big part of this is making sure you are entering and retaining the right information, and making sure your database is free of duplicates. If you have three email addresses for James, how will you know where to send the acknowledgment email when he makes a donation? And how can you recommend shows for patrons based on previous attendance if you don’t know what shows they have attended?
So WHAT can you do to improve the quality of your data, make your patron information more manageable, and make sure you always have what you need at your fingertips? Though it might seem obvious, the first step is to make sure you only have one set of patron information that you are using for communication purposes. Having multiple email lists or places where you gather information that you don’t later merge into one “master” list is an easy way to have duplicates and generally not be well aware of what lists your patrons are subscribing to or shows they are attending.
Secondly, develop a set of “best practices” that you train all of your staff in. Having consistent data starts with maintaining consistent procedures for gathering that data. ...

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Website Design & Focus

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 14:00:16 +0000

I was prompted to write about website design when I read this post from the blog “Butts In Seats” titled There Isn’t A Template for That. This article is a great reminder that it is a difficult task to make an arts website both functional and simple.
I agree with the author that there’s no easy “drag and drop” website builder service that you can use to make a great arts website. That’s because the things we need sites to do are rather complex, not the least of which is integrating online ticketing pages built by third-party companies, such as ours.
The thing I’d like to highlight, however, is not about how challenging it is to make changes to your site but why to make them at all. What is the overall strategy you are using to guide your decision-making? It’s easy enough to come up with a list of things you would like on your organization’s website, but the more important question is “will those features enable us to achieve the goals that are most important for the organization?”  
With the limited time and resources we all have, my recommendation is that you start by analyzing the pages your patrons are spending the most time on now, by looking at your Google Analytics or a similar program. Focus on making sure that these pages are working properly.
From experience, I can tell you that your calendar and ticketing pages are probably some of the most visited pages on your site. Focus on those, and compromise on pages that nobody ever sees. I know it’s painful to look at pages on your site that you know could be better. But don’t look at your site like you would a book — people are not looking in a linear way. They are typically viewing only a few pages. So start by devoting time and attention to those first.

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Why You Should Treat Your Patrons Like Criminals (OK, not really, but hear me out…)

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:00:36 +0000

Today’s guest blog post is written by Erin Madden Ramirez, Data Project Coordinator, Patron Technology.
A few weeks ago, I happened upon an article called 6 hostage negotiation techniques that will get you what you want. It made me think of the movie The Negotiator (Samuel L. Jackson! Kevin Spacey!), so I decided to read the story for fun.
While reading, I was surprised to realize how much the techniques discussed in the article could apply to anyone for whom customer service is a regular part of their job.
Indeed, the writer points out that one key to negotiating is to get someone to see your point of view, and that these techniques are “not something that only [work] with barricaded criminals wielding assault rifles — [they apply] to most any form of disagreement.”
The 5 steps outlined in the article are as follows:

Active Listening: Listen to their side and make them aware you’re listening.
Empathy: You get an understanding of where they’re coming from and how they feel. (Side note, I prefer the word compassion over the word empathy. You don’t want to feel someone’s pain literally.)
Rapport: Empathy (or compassion) is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. They start to trust you.
Influence: Now that they trust you, you’ve earned the right to work on problem solving with them and recommend a course of action.
Behavioral Change: They act. (And maybe come out with their hands up.)

Does this progression sound familiar? It should. Any time you fielded a customer complaint, made a telemarketing call, or tried to upsell a patron, you used some, if not all, of these techniques. It’s the “some” that can present a problem. The author goes on to say,
In all likelihood you usually skip the first three steps. You start at step four (Influence) and expect the other person to immediately go to step five (Behavioral Change). And that never works.

Saying “Here’s why I’m right and you’re wrong” might be effective if people were fundamentally rational. But they’re not.
In fact, “rational” rarely comes into play when human beings are involved! If you want a better resolution when dealing with indecisive, disappointed, or disgruntled patrons, ...

The post Why You Should Treat Your Patrons Like Criminals (OK, not really, but hear me out…) appeared first on Patron Technology.

Website Conversion Check-up Time

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:00:51 +0000

How recently have you visited your own website as if you were a visitor? How recently have you asked some random patrons (either current ticket buyers, or non-ticket buyers) to give you feedback about your site? How recently have you compared your site to those of your competitors? And, most importantly how much attention are you paying to your website conversion rate?
If you’ve answered “not recently” to any (or all) of these questions, now would be a good time to focus on your website. And, no matter how many things on your site you decide you’d like to adjust or improve, I believe your conversion rate (the number of ticket buyers/number of visitors) is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to.  
To help you in this regard, this article by our partner titled 5 Tips for Crafting Your Website to Increase Conversions is a good primer to address this issue. It’s written to address small business owners, but it’s entirely relevant for any arts organization.

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