Rebranding the Traditional Box Office

In a previous post entitled Subscriptions Dead? Maybe Not, I discussed various strategies Arena Stage employed in order to significantly increase its subscriber base. One of the most important was systematically identifying the best subscriber leads in our database, and then developing and implementing strategies to increase the number of similar leads.

Like many others, we traded lists with other performing arts organizations during the acquisition portion of our subscription campaign. However, in doing so, we experienced an incredibly high cost-of-sale for each new subscriber. Even when factoring in the value of each new subscriber over multiple years, returns from mailings to traded lists didn’t justify the cost. Our strategy was flawed, and it was time for a change.

Data showed that our best leads were in our own database, with the best of the best being single ticket buyers who purchased tickets to multiple productions during the previous fiscal year. Instead of trying to attract new subscribers with no prior transactional history with us by sending direct mail campaigns to traded lists, we shifted strategy by focusing on building multi-buyers during the 2008-09 season. The new strategy was simple–if multi-buyers were the best prospects for subscriber acquisition campaigns, then the more multi-buyers we had, the better off we were for the following year’s subscription campaign.

Instead of trading lists for subscription mailings, we traded lists for our most popular productions. Transactional data showed that by luring in new patrons via our most popular programming, we had a much better shot of cross-selling them into other productions soon after they had their first great experience at our theater. If new patrons purchased tickets to just one additional production during the season, they were exponentially more likely to subscribe than a lead with no prior transactional history with us.

Our focus was now clear–in order to grow our subscriber base, we must first focus on building the number of multi-buyers throughout the year. And the most critical component of that strategy was refocusing our ticket sales operations by shifting our box office to a sales office.

The prevailing feeling at the time was that our box office associates were “order takers.” They were expected to pick up the phone and process each order in a courteous and timely fashion. They were evaluated on efficiency instead of effectiveness. With the beginning of the 2008-09 season, we rebranded our box office (now referred to as a sales office), and made it clear that associates were expected to function as sales consultants. They were now responsible for up-selling, cross-selling and proactively soliciting annual fund donations. To prepare the office, I promoted an exceptionally entrepreneurial minded manager to lead the division, and she in turn, brought in several experts to train our staff. We adopted a mantra of sales through service, and in doing so, viewed each opportunity to cross-sell as a moment to provide excellent customer service.

Three years later, I am very pleased with our results:

From FY08 to FY11, new-to-file households (those that had no previous transactional history with Arena Stage) increased by 90%, but even more importantly, multi-buyer households increased by 44%, giving us a much larger “best prospects” pool for new subscribers. In this fiscal year alone, that pool was converted into more than 5,100 new subscribers. Despite what some viewed as aggressive sales techniques, our 2011 customer satisfaction survey revealed that satisfaction levels were at an all-time high, and our attrition rate decreased 6% over the last two years.

Today, our sales associates up-sell seat locations, cross-sell buyers into similar programming, solicit various levels of annual fund donations, offer to make reservations at our cafe, suggest pre-paid parking, and will even arrange for a car service with a preferred provider. In addition, during slower sales cycles, our associates also provide support to our group sales office, and participate in outbound calling. By doing so, we maximize revenue, while growing the number of multi-buyer households and providing premium concierge service to all patrons.

Subscriptions Dead? Maybe Not.

When I joined Arena Stage in 2007, I came to my new job with a couple of preconceived notions about subscriptions. Perhaps it was in part a reflection that I am on the Generation X/Millennial cusp, but I was certain that the subscription model was outdated and ineffective. Many mature organizations that had developed their business models on subscriptions were seeing significant declines in subscriber numbers, and were literally caught between a rock and a hard place — should they dump their subscription model and leap into the unknown, or keep putting band aids on a failing and timeworn strategy? Reports from major performing arts organizations at the time seemed to indicate a trend of declining returns, forcing a feeling that immediate change to a staple in our business model could be warranted.

In early 2008, Arena Stage along with a few other LORT theaters, began to test subscription alternatives in focus groups. In doing so, I was absolutely certain that the results would show at least one, if not several, attractive alternatives to subscriptions. I was wrong. Our work indicated that each option we put forth was less attractive to target single ticket buyers, multi-buyers and current subscribers than what we currently had. I was so surprised that we conducted a second series of focus groups with similar results. Amazed and confused, after a few months, I concluded our market research indicated that the subscription model wasn’t outdated, but that our execution was flawed.

With the help of Target Resource Group, we conducted a thorough audit of all subscription related practices, and started making significant changes in mid-2008. Since our 2008-09 season, Arena Stage has experienced substantial growth in subscriptions, increasing our subscriber base by 57% and revenue by 73% in three fiscal years, beginning 1.5 years before the opening of the Mead Center for American Theater at the height of the global economic crisis and during a time when we were performing in transitional spaces throughout the metropolitan area. Even more surprising, during the same time period, our subscription related marketing expenses decreased, which along with increased revenue, effectively doubled our return on investment (ROI).

Below is a brief summary of major tactical changes:

Simplified Pricing. Our previous subscription pricing strategies were incredibly complicated. I remember spending hours poring over pricing strategy, and at the end thinking that one would have to be a CPA to understand how our pricing model worked. We decided that in order to create an effective value proposition, subscription pricing would have to be clear and easy to understand. We worked for weeks to develop a simple pricing structure that could be messaged easily, such as “buy 6 plays, get 2 plays free.” The new pricing structure allowed us to easily communicate a value proposition and to eliminate complicated order sheets, replacing them with order forms that could be filled out easily. Clear, concise and transparent pricing was pivotal to effectively communicating the value of a subscription.

Introduction of Dynamic Pricing for Single Tickets. In 2009, Arena Stage introduced dynamic pricing for single tickets, and we immediately started to see an unanticipated outcome. Due to our new subscription pricing structure and the introduction of dynamic pricing for single tickets, we were able to guarantee subscribers “the best seats in the house at the best prices.” Dynamic pricing eliminated last minute discounting on premium tickets, and rewarded single ticket buyers with a lower price for better seats if they were willing to purchase earlier. In turn, our patrons soon started to understand that the earlier they purchased, the better “the deal” they received, with the ultimate deal being given to subscribers. As we religiously track all customer service issues, we can say with full confidence two years later that dynamic pricing has not caused distress with our ticket buyers or donors, and in fact, from the moment we introduced dynamic pricing to current day, we have increased the number of single ticket buyer households by 84%.

Focus on Retention and Customer Service. We were allocating too much resource on subscription acquisition, and not enough on subscription retention. We developed a “say yes to the customer” approach with our subscribers, thereby earning us “industry leader” marks on our most recent customer satisfaction survey conducted by Shugoll Research. Year to year benchmarks for customer service have increased steadily as we focused on providing our subscribers the best experience possible. Given today’s sad state of customer service at most establishments, we were determined that our customer service would be a competitive advantage. In addition, we allotted resources for special subscriber recognition efforts throughout the year, including a sneak preview of the upcoming season, complimentary artisan chocolates at specific performances and subscriber-only events. During the 2010-11 season, we introduced a concierge program for all new subscribers. Each new subscriber was assigned a personal concierge on staff, who was expected to make themselves available to answer questions, field requests or be helpful in any way. Concierges were reactive to inbound inquiries, but were also expected to be proactive throughout the year, offering new subscribers recommendations on local restaurants, parking, interesting tidbits about upcoming productions, and the like. By concentrating on customer service and retention, we were able to increase our overall subscription renewal rate by 13% over three fiscal years.

Eliminated Advertising, but Increased Direct Mail and Telemarketing. Prior to 2008, 25% of our subscription budget was allocated to advertising. After exhaustive efforts, we could not trace a single subscription purchase back to our advertising campaigns. Therefore, we cut all subscription advertising, and refocused those resources on direct mail and telemarketing. In doing so, we completely revamped our direct mail and telemarketing campaigns. In terms of direct mail, we would previously print hundreds of thousands of season brochures, and then mail them out in a few rounds of massive mailings. Our brochures were 28 to 32 pages in length, and functioned more as a branding tool than a sales piece. Today, we send out 30+ direct mail pieces during each subscription campaign that specifically tailor the offer to the target. We have eliminated our subscription brochure, cut our design costs by 60%, and have directed all of our resources to testing message and offer. For more information on our new approach to direct mail, please read “The Future of the Season Brochure.” While retooling direct mail, we also invested heavily in telemarketing. If executed properly, many patrons actually view telemarketing as a service, as it allows them the opportunity to discuss the plays with a seasoned caller and to ask any questions they may have. As the economy worsened, we found that many potential subscribers needed personal interaction with a friendly and knowledgeable sales agent in order to make a commitment.

Delayed the Introduction of Smaller Packages and Concentrated on Upgrade Strategies. In 2009, we started to experiment with delaying the on-sale date of partial season packages in order to focus our efforts on upgrading subscribers to the full season. There was a fear at the time that our partial subscribers would become frustrated, and leave the company all together, but I was confident that our programming was strong enough that a delay would encourage subscribers to upgrade. The value proposition was clear — the only way to guarantee the absolute best seats in the house for our most popular productions was to purchase a full season subscription. By focusing on full season subscriptions and postponing the introduction of partial subscriptions, we were able to increase the percentage of full season subscribers by 14% from FY09 to FY12. Expanding upon previous successes, in 2011 we launched a completely separate upgrade campaign alongside our renewal and acquisition campaigns. In addition to crafting and executing strategies that focus on renewals and acquisitions, we now also focus on upgrading subscribers throughout the year. These strategies have proven to be quite effective, and as of publication, we have upgraded more than 1,800 subscribers from smaller packages to larger packages in the current fiscal year.

Relentless Dedication to Monitoring ROI. In FY12, we will spend almost 20% less on subscription expenses than we did in FY08 despite the fact that the number of new subscribers has increased by 166% during the same time. I’ve always been taught that acquisition campaigns are expensive; that you have to “spend money to make money.” In most cases, I agree, however if you aggressively monitor ROI on each campaign, in many cases, you will find efficiencies that will allow you to actually decrease your expenses in the middle of an aggressive acquisition cycle. Many marketers think that given limited staff resources, tracking ROI is too time consuming, however a relentless dedication to monitoring ROI will reveal where you should invest in the future, and more importantly, where you should cut.

In addition to the above, it should also be said that the most important ingredient to any subscription campaign is programming. A subscription campaign is both a referendum on the previous season and an indicator on the amount of excitement in the marketplace for the upcoming season. In my time at Arena Stage, I have been extraordinarily lucky that our artistic team has consistently produced and presented exceptionally high quality work, without which, the aforementioned tactics would have only resulted in minor successes at best.

Building a Budget that Empowers via Flexibility

Each September, a great deal of my focus migrates to budgeting for the next fiscal year. Even while the current fiscal year is just getting its start, many senior managers at Arena Stage are focused on the following year, knowing that in just under four months, a new subscription campaign is set to launch. As summer comes to an end, and the new theater season begins, I find myself already thinking about how in many cases, budgets are created to restrict, rather than to provide, flexibility.

If there is one thing I have learned since 2008, it’s that success is greatly dependent upon one’s ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I’ve always been fascinated by people who consistently make the choice to stick with a strategy that isn’t working instead of leaping into the unknown. In doing so, many believe they are mitigating risk, however refusing to adapt when a strategy is clearing collapsing only ensures failure, and what could be riskier than that? Those that are change adverse often times use a rigid budget to fortify their position, but a good budget lives and breathes with an organization, thereby providing plenty of flexibility when needed.

When budgeting, common practice at many non-profit performing arts organizations allocates revenue and expense into two categories: contributed (development) and earned (marketing). In doing so, each department is assigned resources and given revenue goals with a simple charge–use the resources provided to generate the targeted revenues. In my career, I have observed that this system of allocating resources and establishing revenue goals for separate and distinct departments can lead to inefficiencies that reduce, rather than maximize, return on investment.

Let me give an example:

Organization X anticipates that a certain production will achieve a significant single ticket revenue target, and as such, budgets higher than average expenses for advertising. The production opens to less than stellar notices, and word of mouth isn’t helping either. After several weeks of slow sales despite the considerable investment in advertising, management concludes that the additional expenses set aside for marketing aren’t providing the necessary return on investment, and asks that you reconsider your strategy. Meanwhile, you’ve begun to hear from the development department that the first annual fund campaign of the season is substantially over-performing, although they don’t have the additional funds needed to grow the campaign beyond what was initially budgeted for.

In these types of situations, many marketing directors would reallocate funds from the under-performing production to productions later in the season, even though those productions, if budgeted properly, should already have plenty of resources allocated to support them. Fearing that they won’t receive adequate resources in future budgets if they “give back” money in their expense budget, marketing directors can feel like they are incentivized to ineffectively spend resources on a struggling production or to reallocate them to productions that are already resourced appropriately. Meanwhile, the development department has struck gold, and could desperately use an infusion of additional resources, but none will come.

To avoid situations like the above, I believe budgets should be created with minimal essential resources allocated to each revenue stream, ensuring that each is supported adequately. Resources traditionally budgeted above the minimal level for campaigns that are anticipated to do well, should instead be used to fund a reserve that is used to allocate additional resources to over-performing revenue streams based upon actual highest achieved return on investment. Why religiously stick to a budget that 10 months prior allocated additional resources to anticipated successful revenue streams when current reality indicates that the additional expenses aren’t warranted? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to move resources across departments to invest in activities that are actually over-performing rather than those that we thought would over-perform?

In addition, chief development officers and chief marketing officers should share responsibility for the total revenue goal of the organization, thereby eliminating any territory related issues that may arise. Together, they should be charged with shifting resources on a regular basis to fund activities that reduce cost of sale, maximize return on investment and best position the organization to achieve the annual institutional revenue goal.

At the end of the day, performing arts organizations are having to use their limited resources much more wisely than in previous years, and that reality should force all senior managers to reexamine how resources are allocated and spent.

Content Optimization

There are many aspects of the optimization process. Content Optimization is one example. Google to keep the process of biological research, they keep changing their algorithm. In this basis of the algorithm they consider nearly 200 aspects, including the contents of these aspects. Sometimes it seems that the incoming links from high PR offer greatest benefit well-written and optimized content, but what if the page rank of such declines inbound links. It will surely affect the performance of the site. Thus it is said that content is king. It will definitely add to the performance of the site and there is no risk of adverse effects. Hope now it is clear that the optimization of content is one of the best ways to achieve a good ranking in the SERP, but also noted that even if it’s keyword density is much debate in many forums and chat rooms is that the maximum density permitted keywords. Hope it is about 2% to 5%.If you wrote an article about 100 words that your targeted keyword should be repeated only 2 to 5 times. As these will lead to spam. Much care must be taken while you are taking such a decision. From SEO should consider this.

There is much confusion about what the keyword density for maximum search engine is not the same as for someone else. Chasing the density of one may very well destroy your efforts on another. The best way is to write the content, in view of visitors, not search engines.

It is also possible to get good public relations and higher position in SERP by using unethical methods, such as hidden text, font sizes very small and other tactics that basically hide text of a visitor directly, but remember such a ranking is only for short base when you notice that you are definitely going to be thrown in research, and these will certainly create a bad impression about you or your company in the minds of visitors and search engines.

Meta Tag Optimization

The initial phase of the Internet and search engines, meta tags on the contents of a secret weapon known as search engine positions. It have been so easy to get to the top of Serp days late, but people started using it incorrectly. They (spammers) began to exploit this feature by entering keywords in the meta tags have nothing to do with the contents of the site.

They do all the major search engines look down when they scored most relevant research to address the situation they began to pay attention less to these meta tags, and emphasis was given to the actual content of pages. Not that it’s totally irrelevant to a ranking of the website, but it seems that many search engines use them as a minor addition to the text in the body tag and the title of your web pages.

Like many of them try to give more importance to the description meta tag, as they often are considered SERP.

Its HTML format looks like these:

HEAD

TITLE your Descriptive keywords title goes here TITLE

META NAME=”Description” Content=”Your keyword description”

META NAME=”Keywords” Content=”Keyword (separated by a commo)”

HEAD

(Note: In the tag above arrow mark is not used, please consider the same)

This is an HTML tag that provides information on the web page content as what HTML specifications a web page or a description of its contents. A meta-tag does not affect the form of a Web page that is displayed in a browser window.

Title Tag Optimization

The title tag is considered one of the most important factors with respect to the algorithmic weight given to them by search engines, they are even more important that the site content and links pointing to them. Although it is often overlooked by the webmaster and other attempts to optimize their sites for traffic from search engines targeted.

It works just like the name of the book. Suppose, for example, you need the book “Internet Marketing”. Walk in the library search the titles of all this, see the book titled “The Best Internet Marketing Tips” and have that book. Fortunately, there were some other books in the library, which had more information about Internet marketing that you have taken, but the title does not care. Search engines also do the same thing, look at the title of a web page and decide what it is.

One of the easiest ways to optimize the placement in search engines is simply using keywords in the post titles when it comes to optimizing blog I think the web page and job titles are very important. Google in particular seems the value of words in your title very high.

Research shows that people are looking online a lot, the names of products and people, and are often very specific to their search. So it is always the best idea to do the things written in the title reflects.

Identify The Keywords Best Business

What is the purpose of a business website? It is not created just to have fun, but to make an online presence for your business. In the early days, before the development of Internet has been very difficult to get business from the boundaries of the area, as there was not sufficient exposure of the company and therefore the unit is close to them or known them to get business from them, although they give a product of low quality at high speed. Following the development of marketing terminology in business all these cases that can not get business across borders has begun to capture the attention of these customers. They thought it wise to buy the product of those who give with good quality and low prices. So at this stage the market was competitive in nature. Different types of marketing techniques have been developed in the market but the market still remained at a local level.It was after the development of the Internet throughout the company in the world had changed. Now we can say that the world is a market. With the development of the Internet and other technologies, it is now possible to buy or sell things all over the world.

Many business entities doing research in various products or services using search engines. When they can get all the information and the status of the product market. Thus, they can decide what should be the price, and so choose the best retailer to give. This way they can save a lot of their business.

Now we can talk a little about search engines. There are various search engines in the online world. Among them, Google and Yahoo play a major role. Google dominates the market and generates 75% of Internet search traffic. Now let’s see how this research are made. It is very logical, if I want to buy a mobile handset that surely I will do the search with the keyword mobile phones, mobile phone and so on. Now I hope that I had too many results for my research and other requirements, it must be of Nokia should include the camera and all modern facilities. Can I add two more three words, ie last Nokia mobile phone, so these will give me the filtered results. It is therefore very clear from these individual requirements that will determine the keyword used for searching. Since all are not identical, they have different way of thinking so they do research with different expressions.

Google keeps a record of all the research done and creates a database called Google Ad Words. It gives us information on the various keywords for searching. So now we have information on the development or common keywords used by customers to find the product or service, but wait do not think you have the great secret, using the same keywords, you can get a lot of activity. You forget that you as many business units on the market, you can be the newbie, but they are an established entity will have strong market power. So it will not always be easy to compete with companies or perhaps not wise to waste resources to compete for the keyword activities such as the enormous competition. The best technique is to choose keywords that hold more research and less competition. In doing so, we can readily visible in the research as clients.

Nowadays the latest trend is to keep the long keyword or more specified phrase as the keyword. This can fetch you with the more selected customers of the market.

Suggest A Site Pages

Tips of the pages are the most important aspects of a successful website. Depends on the type of website you want to optimize. Pages that work for one type of site may or may not work for other types and some are like that are common to all. So before you start thinking about what to write, it is important to create a plan that describes what each page should contain. Here is a list of important information that can or should be included on your site.

(1) Home Page :- They are obviously the first page of the site. Normally, this page includes information about what you can do for your customers and that the site concerned and sometimes includes links to inside pages.

(2) Products / Services :- Normally, these pages are the type of products or services to sell. It should have different pages for each of the products and services, discussing their benefits and use to divide the links on the same page. These can help you gain the trust of customers.

(3) About Us :- This is one of the most important pages as it tells your customers about who you are and why they should buy your products, services. This is the page where you branch off of others, for most companies included their faith, vision, technology, information about their staff and recently completed projects.

(4) Contact Us :- Try to place your data in as many places as possible. Normally, this page includes all the details about the company, such as name, address on file. Branch address, website URL, email address, phone, etc..

(5) Testimonials :- Testimonies of current customers to gain the confidence of potential customers. At this point, you need to make sure the testimonials are real, and if possible provide contact information for a person who has submitted a recommendation for you.

(6) FAQ :- Which showed a significant time savings for many companies. Instead of having to answer the same question over and over again, put in place and keep adding to them. The more information you have on your site as quickly as you need to answer the question by email or telephone. Although the trend these days is to keep the link to speak (ie, live chat) to any executive customer online. So I certainly can not be resolved at the earliest, would not have to email or make a phone call from it.

(7) Site search :-Some of the visitors to your site do not necessarily know exactly what they want, but if you include the search function on your site, can be found easily. How search engines, a feature so that visitors enter the word or phrase and then search on your site. It ‘s like a mini search engine. Normally, this function is not a separate page, but these links are stored on the home page.

(8) Privacy policy :- Privacy continues to be a big problem for customers to shop online. Concern about how their information is used, is a major obstacle in the sale. Here, by sharing information on privacy and certification can gain the trust of customers.

(9) Site map :- Sitemap recall the contents. It shows how visitors to your site is low and can easily jump to any part of the site by clicking a link in it.

SEO And Activity Includes

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a key part of the website specifically developed. Beginners in the same area confused about what SEO is and what you are given the same table. We hope that no one can know everything about their early stages, it is time, practice and experience, which makes them perfect.That person who constant communication with professional they go ahead and move with good knowledge.
Hope is not a list, which covers the whole subject of SEO because it is an ongoing process. Even then some quick action which proves useful for those who want to make life SEO and start it.

1) Identify Errors in website : As per W3C Validation or Standards and sort out the same.
2) Suggest Pages in website.
3) Identify the best business keywords.
4) Title Tag Optimization
5) Meta Tag Optimization
6) Content Optimization
7) H1 Tag Optimization
8) Web Blog Marketing
9) Free Search Engine, Directory submission.
10) Social Media Optimization.
11) Free Classified Creation.
12) Article Submission.
13) XML Site map Generation and Updation.
14) Integration Website with Google Analytic s.
15) Press Release Submission.
16) Maintaining Keywords Progress.

We hope this is not end of the list. Please add new techniques developed to facilitate a beginner in the same professional person.

Forum Link Building – The Best way of Link Building

The most important part of building a web business (traffic) is gaining quality backlinks in a particular way, the links back. It becomes important for you to get a unique relationship with a niche keyword phrase, which increase your websites search engine rankings. The number of links in a better quality you get, your site will soon achieve excellent results and you too.

Although the construction of backward linkages, we believe that blogs and forum link on the page rank higher. However, calls one way link to your site takes time and effort, but the services of link building can perform this task. So, Link Building Forum is one of the smartest way to get thousands of links to your site for your keyword phrase can be beautiful, with a link building high quality service.

Forum Link Building Link Building offer an excellent solution for customers who are a novice and fighters. It’s just having a website is not enough, but give it a push, a complete link building campaign is needed. They have an excellent professional team are very dedicated and will make a way to connect to the website of the campaign. These things are important and necessary to get a unique link. You could easily search engine visibility and hype to attract visitors to your site, its products and services.