Put “Big Data” to Work in the Arts


© patpitchaya - “We’re becoming a data-driven society.”
“We are a data-driven company.”
“We analyzed millions of customer records to understand their buying patterns...”

Do these headlines sound familiar to you? It seems that every day now we hear how “big data” is changing the way companies are analyzing and then marketing to their customers.

The first time many of us woke up to this was back in the ’90s, when Amazon started suggesting books that we might like, based on the ones we had already read. This technique seemed magical at the time; what we now know is that the magic was “collaborative filtering,” which uses the massive amounts of data at Amazon’s disposal to compare behavior across many users and predict interests based on that data.

One of the problems in the arts is that hardly anyone has millions and millions of customers. (click to read more...)

Can Discount Codes Help You Build Community?

Guest Blogger

© dampoint - Fotolia.comToday's guest blog post is written by Craig Iturbe, Education and Training Manager here at Patron Technology.

“If you have a discount code, you can enter it here.” These words are becoming more and more common on ticketing sites. I’d say I see them almost every time I buy tickets for something, and that I actually have a code only around 15 percent of the time. Every time this happens, I go through the five stages of not having a discount code:

Denial — Wait, maybe I actually DO have a discount code!

Anger — Why didn’t these jerks give me a discount code?

Bargaining — What do I have to do to get a discount code?

Depression — I guess they just don’t like me.

Acceptance — OK, I guess I’m paying full price for this ticket.

Such a roller coaster of emotions! And all caused by that one sentence. Arts organizations tend to avoid issuing discounts, seeing them as a mark of desperation or as a last resort. This is understandable — because “discount code” has “discount” right in the name, it’s easy to think of it purely in terms of money lost. (click to read more...)

Learning From Las Vegas


© somchaij - Having recently visited Las Vegas, I’m betting the arts could learn a lot from what has happened there. Not too long ago, Las Vegas was only about gambling. It was an industry in decline, serving a fringe clientele. Sound familiar? Yet today, although it’s still a gamblers’ mecca, Vegas has become a mainstream entertainment and dining capital as well.

Why did this happen? The transformational strategy seems to have been based on a simple idea: Gambling is fine, but what Las Vegas is really about is delivering an amazing experience that you can’t get anywhere else. The number of celebrity chef restaurants is staggering, as is the array of Broadway shows and resident musical acts. You'd be surprised by the number of people (like me) who go there with no intention of gambling.

It’s obvious that the customer experience is at the core of this strategy, and it succeeds because people put their mind to it. Cirque du Soleil, with no fewer than 8 shows playing at the same time, has a staff position titled Senior Director of Customer Relations & Experience.

I have a customer experience of my own to share, and it might be something you can do at your venue. (click to read more...)

Make It Your Goal to Learn About Your Audience

Guest Blogger

© iQoncept - Fotolia.comToday's guest blog post is written by Allison Klein, Platform Innovation Specialist here at Patron Technology.

Do you know what motivates patrons to attend your shows instead of staying at home? Do you know what your fans love about your organization, what they like, and what they feel less favorably about? If you don’t, then it’s probably a good idea to ask them!

One way to get some Q&A time with your audience is by creating an advisory group of your patrons. Surveys are great for learning more about your patrons and their attitudes toward your organization, but there’s also a lot to be said for anecdotal feedback. A more qualitative approach can really get to the why and how of decision making, not just the what, where, and when. And unlike surveys, you’re not putting words in your customer’s mouth by way of multiple-choice options if you are instead able to ask an opened-ended question and listen closely to the response.

Back in January, I heard about a great example of this approach when I attended my first INTIX conference. (click to read more...)

Thoughtful Risk Taking

Guest Blogger, Smart Idea!

© raduborzea - Fotolia.comToday's guest blog post is written by Jordan Simmons, Account Executive here at Patron Technology.

There is an old adage — “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.” The quote is usually misattributed to Albert Einstein, but I think we can all agree (no matter who said it) that it has the ring of truth to it. Continuing to follow the same well-worn paths year after year while watching funds dry up is a poor way to run an institution.

Arts institutions are by definition creative organizations, but all too often we play it safe when it comes to marketing, fundraising, and programming. When funds are limited, the prospect of failure is a very uncomfortable thing to consider, so we follow the same plan from last year, maybe making some small changes here and there, while we lose 5-10% of our donors here, sell fewer tickets there, and continue to throw good money after bad. Our creativity is stymied by our low tolerance for risk.

I recently attended the Arts Reach Canada conference in Toronto, and I returned with a renewed sense of optimism for the state of arts organizations as well as a notebook full of notes. (click to read more...)

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