Talking Tickets 22 January 2021: Brokers! Theatermania! The AFL! Jacksonville Jaguars! And, More

Year 2, Episode 17


Over the last few months, I asked y’all to rate the newsletter so I could do a better job delivering value to your inboxes each week. Last week in my other newsletter, I wrote up a quick note about why this NPS Score matters and how you can think about it and use it for your business.

It is a really great metric to use and the number can usually tell you whether you are in a position to grow or you are going to see your business slip. When you use the qualitative questions I did, you gain some new insights that can help you improve your business.

The cool thing is that I found out quite a few of y’all already use the number and once I ask to make sure I can share it, I’ll share more here.

Come to happy hour this afternoon. My schedule has been getting jammed up on Friday afternoons, but you still have Matt and Ken to make you laugh and at the least, I’m going to call in this afternoon.

I’m going to try something new next week on the podcast stream by posting a couple of lessons on different strategies and marketing ideas that I think folks are going to need to use and be aware of to come back from the pandemic.

Monday: Strategy—The 2 Primary Questions You Have To Answer

Tuesday: Research—Qualitative, Quantitative, and Backwards Market Research

Wednesday: The Marketing Mix

Thursday: Pricing—5 Keys To Pricing Effectiveness

Friday: The 3 Cs—Customers! Competition! Company!

Check these out!

To the Tickets!


1. AudienceView’s new Covid-19 impact report teaches us a valuable lesson on two foundations of marketing:

So AudienceView and Theatermania dropped a really great piece of research on us this week called “The Patrons’ Perspective” that studies buying behavior and a return to theatre timeline for customers.

I love it!

And the research teaches us a couple of really great things:

  • We need to Market Oriented.

  • We need to do research to make that Market Orientation come to life.

First, the simplest thing is that Market Orientation simply means getting the voice of your customer inside your organization.

I shouldn’t have to belabor this too long, but two really important points that I’ve made in almost every workshop and presentation I’ve given for the last 10 years are:

  • You are not your market.

  • Assuming just because you like something that you know what your customer is going to think or want isn’t just bad marketing, it is dangerous.

By surveying 3300 people, the sample is more than valid.

It is a huge database of information, meaning that we can take this research to the bank it is rock solid.

The interesting things here are that people still enjoy the content, even when it is streamed and virtual.

They are also paying for the content. This is important to keep in mind because this matches up to Vatic’s research and the research done by Baker Richards in the UK.

The research also highlights that vaccination, mask mandates and enforcement, and, generally, safety are the keys to getting buildings open to fans.

Now, this survey covered the most avid theatre goers and you’d be accurate in questioning what this data means for people that are less avid attendees.

The truth is that this research can point you in the direction of how to augment the avid theatre fan’s information so you can get a fuller view of the market. And, you can draw some loose conclusions from the data here.

Let’s start by looking at a few things we can infer:

  • If 30% of avid theatre-goers are willing to pay for refund protection, people that aren’t as likely to go regularly are likely to be more willing to pay. In general, it seems that almost 20% of the population buys travel insurance and the reason people don’t buy more of these protections is due to lack of education. This is simple, but this peace of mind is something to keep in mind.

  • With 13.3% of people actively buying tickets to future events, depending on where you are in the world, it might make sense to put some shows in the future on sale. You might want to add new or unique value to your tickets to ensure that folks buy, but the anticipation of better days may be just the push a lot of folks need to buy tickets now.

The second lesson here is about market research.

Data is big on people’s minds.

That’s good and bad.

We can get overwhelmed.

The AudienceView survey is of 3300 avid theatre-goers but don’t be thrown off by the number.

A dirty secret of market research is that you don’t always need that many people to come up with a valid representation of your market. I did a test on sampling the City of New York to get a representative sample, approximately 8 million folks.

Do you know how many people I need to get responses from?


Here’s my gift to you, a calculator that allows you to figure out pretty fast how big of a sample you need.

Research is important because good marketers start by recognizing they can’t know for sure what their customers want but that they have access to the tools they need to find out what is on people’s minds.

The most effective way I’ve found to do the kind of research most of us need to do in our average day is a method called Backwards Market Research, forgive me if I’ve explained this before, but it is three steps:

  1. Start with what you need to figure out? In this case, we might want to understand what the average person thinks about going to an event.

  2. Figure out how you are going to want to display this information? Graphs, charts, numbers, whatever it is that is going to help you understand the data.

  3. Design the survey around the first two things.

Simple and powerful is the kind of work AudienceView shared with us this week. Look at it, understand it and build off of it to figure out how to take action going forward.

2. The NFL and the AFL are taking two different approaches to brand strategy:

In Jacksonville, Jaguars’ fans are hyped because they have just announced Urban Meyer as their new head coach and they are anticipating picking Trevor Lawrence in the draft.

This excitement has led the ticket office to hype getting deposits in now and downtown Jacksonville businesses to revel in how well businesses do when the team does well.

In Tasmania, the Australian Football League and the island state are facing off over renewing a deal that allows the league to play a few games in the state a year while the state is working to get a team of their own.

Hearing Tasmania’s Premier speak about how having a team in Tasmania will help stop the decline of youth participation and improve the business of the AFL points us to someone that has a keen understanding of segmentation, targeting, and positioning.

But when you put the two stories together, you come upon a lesson in brand strategy and what all businesses in entertainment need to focus on going forward.

The core of what both the NFL and AFL are dealing with is brand strategy. A recent survey of over 400 CMOs around the globe pointed out that this was the thing they felt like they needed the most in the next few years.

It is understandable because most of the people that talk about brand strategy are numpties and are talking out of their neck to go back to my outer borough upbringing as a young adult.

Because many of you may be struggling with how to approach your business coming through and out of the pandemic, let me walk you through a few ideas:

Diagnosis before you do anything else: This is the key, diagnosis first and strategy second. Take a step back and understand what you are dealing with.

In the example of the AFL and Tasmania, it seems pretty clear that the Premier of Tasmania understands what the business situation is with the AFL, he recognizes that the ability to grow the game lies in expanding in new territories and with kids, and it looks like he has a pretty good understanding of the AFL’s brand heritage.

All important parts of getting the diagnosis right.

Strategy is about choice: Last week I shared the video from Roger Martin. If you haven’t read his book, Play to Win, get it.

The key is that strategy isn’t hard, but it is difficult.

Where a lot of brand strategies get totally screwed is that the people involved want to avoid making decisions. They want to try and be everything to everyone.

But a successful strategy requires you to pick. It implores you to say, “This is not for you.”

So be selfish like Tasmania is attempting to be with the AFL and know the research, articulate the reason to go with you, and make sure that you make the choice pretty clear.

Opening the door to my final point on brand strategy: Strategy before tactics.

If you only remember one thing, remember this…you have to do strategy before tactics. The challenge that seems to pop up in a lot of places and seems to be a root issue in Jacksonville is that their ability to drive sales in the past has been tied to winning.

Winning is great and having a great product on the field isn’t going to hurt you at all, but a better strategy is to have done the work of putting together a strategy first so that you can deliver tactically…which is what winning is, a tactic to deliver on your strategic goals.

That’s the beauty of the AFL and Tasmania, again, this Premier may or may not be a marketing genius, but he’s nailed targeting by focusing on two things that are important to the AFL: young fans and growing in new or non-traditional regions.

He has picked a pretty strong position by saying that the AFL can’t be truly a national game if his state doesn’t have a team. And, he’s highlighting the remedy.

It is really genius from a marketing standpoint.

Identify who you are targeting. Follow up with your position. Finally, aim for your goal and what you want to achieve.

To flip the situation in Jacksonville, their target could be fans that only come when the team is good. Which opens the door to some of the segmentation and research questions that we talked about above. Followed up with the Jags spending some time figuring how to position themselves against the alternatives that folks are choosing when the team isn’t winning. Finally, hit them some serious muscle to achieve your goals like more revenue, higher attendance, or whatever it is.

That’s brand strategy in a nutshell.

3. The Indian Premier League offers a case study for change and innovation heading forward:

I like this case study because it takes aim at the assumptions that drive a lot of thinking.

Coming out of the pandemic, we are going to have to use new mental models and get creative to generate new opportunities and grow market share. Full stop.

There are two ideas that I want to highlight here that seem to be a theme this week.

First, in the case of the IPL, they went and took a look at their non-customers to figure out how to win them over.

The same as discussed with the survey in item one, knowing what our loyalists and most avid fans think is one thing, but we also really need to know what is going on with the other important customers that we encounter like folks that are not regular ticket buyers or that are picking something else so that we can effectively target and position to try and attract them.

Like I’ve pointed out the last few weeks, what the NFL did with their Nickelodeon broadcast is a really strong case in point because they researched the market, recognized a challenge, segmented, targeted, and positioned.

Great stuff!

Second, you have to be creative in looking for new opportunities.

I’ve seen the negative press about the Blue Ocean frameworks. For me, I recognize that simplicity is often the key to implementation.

So seeing that they have six paths forward might turn folks off.

Instead, look at it from the lens of a marketer.

Do a proper segmentation where you use a meaningful/actionable grid to figure out variables, market size, segment value, and a few other things and look at behaviors, especially ones you think you can change or cater to.

4. Brokers are missing out on NFL Championship Games, but this is really about distribution and the ecosystem of an event:

Before I get my inbox filled with folks from around the world shouting at me, “WE DON’T CARE ABOUT TOUTS!” Let me explain why this matters.

The first thing is that the situation that Ticket King talks about highlights the situation that many businesses around the world are dealing with. They are not allowed to bring in customers, fans, attendees and it is harming the entire ecosystem including the venues, the teams, the bars and restaurants, etc.

What this highlights to me is that despite some forms of relief for businesses in countries all over the place, we still have no clue what the economic fallout from the pandemic is really going to be.

In Michigan, the state is offering grants to help businesses through the pandemic, but no matter how effective government action is, businesses are going to slip through the cracks.

While this is a story about brokers missing out on profits from a championship game, the important lesson here is that depending on how much longer the pandemic impacts us and the amount of economic damage that is done, we are going to need to pay attention to our marketing mix.

In this event, we are looking at distribution because in the States the brokers play a role that primary ticket providers play in a lot of places but which boils down to the idea of primary and secondary distribution.

No matter where you are in the supply chain, how you distribute your product or service matters.

Coming out of the pandemic, you are going to need to understand whether or not the pandemic has changed the way you distribute your products and services.

If you’ve relied heavily on primary distribution, does that still make sense? Do you have the skills and technology to deliver the results you need?

If you’ve relied on secondary distribution, does that need to change? Maybe you’ve been allowing your product to be distributed in every place possible and that doesn’t fit anymore?

All of these and other considerations are important going forward.

Just as much, from the example in Green Bay, what about your partners?

Are they going to be able to support you? Are they going to be able to recover?

What does that mean for you?

How can you support them?

How can they support you?

How can you support each other?

An interesting question I got from Australia was how can the arts and sports work together to create an environment where everyone recovers. And, that is a good question for all of us to think through because once the pandemic is behind us, it won’t be as simple as throwing open the doors. We are going to have to rebuild our communities and the structures around us.

And, when you think about brokers and the secondary market as points of distribution, it introduces many complex questions to your strategy going forward.

5. Glastonbury is the second festival to cancel in 2021:

I close out this week with this one because I think it highlights the uncertainty we are all still dealing with.

My old marketing professor, Mark Ritson, wrote a piece this week where he shared that he doesn’t think he will really get back to normal until maybe 2023 because Australia is being really tough on shutting down the coronavirus in their country.

I’m hopeful that we will be able to get folks vaccinated much more quickly than that, but I think do have to do a good job of risk planning and thinking through different scenarios.

Much of what I do is focused on helping folks understand and create the environment for growth and uncertainty is a big downer when it comes to driving growth.

For all of us, it is important to keep in mind the example that Simon Mabb shared with me from the book, Good to Great, of Stockdale’s Paradox: We know we will get through this, but we don’t know when. We also know it will suck, but that doesn’t give us permission to stop putting one foot in front of the other.

So take all of the stuff I’ve shared this week and put it to use planning for a successful future. We know it is coming, but we don’t know when it will get here…but we know we need to be ready.

Thanks again for being here.

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Keep an eye on the podcast line…a new episode each day with a quick lesson, as a test.

Check out my friends at Booking Protect. As the data from AudienceView shows, refund protection can be a valuable tool heading out of the pandemic.

Get on over to the We Will Recover project from my friends at Activity Stream.