Ice Bucket Challenge — A Chilly Blast of New Thinking


© victorwood - Fotolia.comKathleen Drohan

Kathleen Drohan directs the WQXR Radio Musical Instrument Drive and is the former associate director of public relations for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she consults on marketing and public relations to artists and arts organizations. As a writer, she is a contributor to the book Worn Stories and blogs at

The dog days of summer 2014 will be remembered for many things, but in the non-profit community, this August has brought an unprecedented experience that conjures up everything from awe to hope to disdain. I’m talking, of course, about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Those three words have generated almost as much eye-rolling this summer as a new Kardashian headline, but it has also brought us together in a remarkable way and united us in philanthropy. In less than a month, the challenge has brought in more than $100 million in contributions to the ALS Association, a group that has traditionally raised about $20 million annually. This influx of funds may allow the organization to make real strides in finding a cure. The most talented groups of fundraisers, marketers, and publicists could sit down together and never come up with a device that would bring as many much-needed dollars as the Ice Bucket Challenge has.

There are genuine questions now about what happens next and how the ALS plans to use the funds, but these will be answered over time. We, as non-profit administrators, though, ought to be looking at the challenge and what it tells us about how our audiences can respond if we talk to them the right way.

First, there are some simple truths of the Ice Bucket Challenge. (click to read more...)

History Repeats Itself: Leveraging Your Historical Data to Drive More Sales

Guest Blogger

© cherezoff - Fotolia.comToday's guest blog post is written by Louis Anthony Pauza III, Client Services Representative - Data Team here at Patron Technology.

I work daily with our new organization clients on importing years of their historical data from legacy solutions into PatronManager. Part of that process includes helping clients attempt to predict what data they will use. Whether you’re in the process of migrating to a new system or have had one in place for 15 years, what’s important is that you thoughtfully and carefully choose what to import, and then put that data to good use.

Let’s dive into the hypothetical deep end of the data pool and discuss how this might play out.

Let’s say a regional theatre produces Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate and William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew in the same season. (For anyone who isn’t aware, the former is an adaptation of the latter.) The marketing manager for the theatre plans four unique email campaigns, the first of which is an individual campaign for each show, targeting potential audience members based on their previous ticket-buying patterns. (click to read more...)

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...)

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