Five ways to increase your sales

The pressure to increase ticket sales is an ongoing challenge for many organisations. We offer a simple approach.

Many organisations in the cultural sector face rising targets, with pressure to generate ever more sales and income.  In the face of busy workloads and the need to balance income objectives with wider organisational objectives such as audience development, this can seem daunting.

So, here’s some good news to help keep things simple.  There are only five ways to increase your ticket sales:

  • Acquisition – get new customers
  • Reactivation – get lapsed customers to come back
  • Retention – get more of last year’s customers to come back
  • Frequency – get customers to buy more shows each year
  • Party size – get customers to bring more people

Get new customers

Getting new customers is often a high priority because it can also speak to an organisation’s wider objectives including audience development.  There are many case studies around getting new customers (for example in the final report on the New Audiences programme funded by Arts Council England from 1998-2003).

Consequently, many organisations are already very good at attracting new customers, and at increasing that number each year.  However, many organisations have a lot of “oncers” – new customers who book once and apparently never come back.  If you are one of these organisations then you may agree that often the real challenge is getting them to return…

Get lapsed customers back

Getting historic customers to come back is often given less focus than getting new customers.  Previous bookers are typically targeted on a “show by show” basis where organisations mail people who booked shows similar to the one they are trying to sell.  What is less common is developing campaigns focused on encouraging someone to return, regardless of what they might be interested in.

RetentionGet more of last year’s customers back

For those managing subscriptions or membership schemes, the proportion of last year’s members or subscribers that renew is often treated as a key measure of success.  It is less commonly considered in respect of single ticket bookers.  The Segmentation Engine makes it easy to track your retention (or ‘churn’ – the measure of how many customers you are not getting back), but also your customer ‘flow’ so you can see what last year’s customers did previously and what they’re doing now.  This means you can take action to target people to return.

FrequencyGet customers to buy more shows

Getting customers to buy more shows each year is often the quickest ‘win’ because you are targeting customers who already know and like what you do.  Again, many organisations approach this “show by show”, rather than making an assessment of how to develop an offer to encourage different customer segments to buy slightly more across a whole year than they do now.

Party SizeGet customers to bring more people

As well as just encouraging a larger party size, e.g. family bookings, there are many different ways to get your current customers to market on your behalf and bring more people with them – including encouraging your customers to become ambassadors (with benefits for those customers achieving a certain level of sales) and developing your offer for groups so that bookers perceive a benefit to organising a larger group.

So, remember “Acquisition, Reactivation, Retention, Frequency, Party Size”.  These are the only five ways you can increase your ticket sales.

Tim Baker
Tim Baker

Tim Baker is a Non-Executive Director of the Baker Richards Employee Trust, and founded Baker Richards together with Debbie Richards.

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