Talking Tickets: 28 August 2020-Sustainability! AFL! Jobs! And, More!

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Hey!

How’s everyone holding up?

I’m still here, kicking it, doing the best I can under the circumstances we all are finding ourselves in right now.

If anyone needs to chat, I’m here for you. Send me an email at dave@davewakeman.com and we can chat, email, text, or whatever. As the pandemic continues and we all have to deal with things we never likely imagined we would be dealing with, don’t feel like you need to get through this alone.

BTW, happy hour tonight with me, Ken Troupe, and Matt Wolff. What will Ken drink? And, what fruity, beer adjacent thing will Matt try to pass off as beer? Find out at 5 PM EDT.

Check out this piece I found on mental “surge capacity” that is a nice companion to The Stockdale Paradox. I think all of our mental capacities are being challenged in big ways and small and finding a language to help us understand or talk about that is useful.

To the tickets!

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1. Sustainability of teams, clubs, and organizations is going to be more and more top of mind for the near-term:

The Football Weekly crew do my favorite podcast. I love listening to these folks talk about all the leagues and teams around the world. It helps take my mind off of serious things most of the time, but this week they got into the conversation about saving football clubs in England and that got me thinking about the situation all of us find ourselves in right now…the need to survive.

The “Sustain the Game” effort is a program to help football clubs be able to avoid the fate that Bury met last year when they couldn’t sustain themselves and while the foundation of this point is the UK, it mirrors a lot of the conversations we have been seeing around the world of sports in a lot of places.

Forbes.com put out a piece this week talking about the University of Iowa having somewhere in the neighborhood of a $75M budget deficit this year in their athletic department due to postponement of the Big Ten’s football schedule.

A few weeks back, we had a story from another outlet talking about UC Berkley and how in-debt they were and other college programs.

This is a story that has become far too common now.

Businesses over commit based on projected revenues or some other numbers and end up servicing the debt and everything is fine until it isn’t.

Which is the story of the world of tickets and the larger US economy right now. Things were great, until they weren’t great.

Here’s the thing about these stories about sustainability, I think we are going to see some organizations in the arts, sports, and other parts of the live entertainment industry not be able to make it.

I saw a post on the LinkedIn that said, “If you haven’t created six new offerings for your business during these first six months of the COVID economy, what have you been doing for your business?”

Everyone’s business and life are different, but if you haven’t been able to figure out a way to recreate or rethink your business at this point, you are behind. Even if you have been thinking through things, you likely are jammed up.

Here are three things that you can do immediately to get yourself back in the game or back in control of your situation:

  1. Be realistic about what the worst possible outcome for your business is likely to look like? In my conversations, folks seem to have been hanging onto the best possible outcome with little reason to in a lot of cases, so you don’t need my help with that. But be realistic and sketch out what the worst case scenario looks like and figure out how you can protect yourself and your business right now from that likelihood.

  2. Map out all of the revenue streams you and your business have. Are they the same as they were before the pandemic? Have you figured out how to add or change them to better reflect the world we are going to exist in now?

  3. Jot down 3 action items you can take based off the two exercises above and commit to taking those actions ASAP.

If you are stuck, unsure, or whatever…y’all know I’m here for you! Send me a note!

2. What will the future of Broadway look like?

I remember the first show I ever saw on Broadway, A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

It wasn't a very good version of the play, but I was fascinated by the idea that living in New York City, I could go to Broadway whenever I wanted. That’s one of the things that always fascinated me when I first started in selling tickets in NYC back in the day, how much the magic of Broadway never lost its power.

I still think about the great shows I’ve seen over the years like The MFer with the Hat, The Pillow Man, The Producers, and Assassins.

The article linked to talks about all the things that Broadway has missed this year like the cultural moment with Black Lives Matter and other things. These are important things.

If I’m being optimistic, I’m thinking the absence of Broadway highlights the importance of the arts to a civil society.

Okay, I’m an optimist and I know Broadway will come back. I also know that the importance of the theatre and arts is likely going to help pave the way for a renaissance of art and theatre and performances because civil societies need their artists.

There aren’t a lot of actions we can take right now to support Broadway by buying tickets or going to a show, but I think we can do a few things to keep Broadway, the West End, and the arts in our thoughts and that can also steel us for the challenges still in front of us…but, I hope they will make you feel stronger and better:

  1. Listen to your favorite piece of music: an album, a soundtrack, or a production that you can watch on a screen. Let that stuff support you.

  2. If you have the capacity to buy something from an artist or a venue, do it. I’m going to buy some concert posters from a couple of bands that I love to decorate my remodeled office area.

  3. Follow folks that are sharing pictures about their venues and the arts. Like I’ve mentioned a lot lately, Kieran has been doing a great job sharing inspirational quotes and photos on the Booking Protect Instagram feed that always brighten my mood.

We can all get a little down mentally and I’ve been rocking out to some albums that were important to me when I was coming up in nightclubs as a way to help me through this period. But as I’ve mentioned so many times, don’t deal with this crap alone.

Reach out to someone if you need to talk.

We will get to the other side and we will have a party when we do!

3. The Australian Football League had to make severe cuts to its business:

Bad week for a lot of folks in Australia as the AFL had to cut more than 20% of its staff due to the ongoing impact of the coronavirus.

$400 million in lost revenue is a huge hit to the league’s business.

The AFL isn’t alone as Monumental, the USTA, and many other organizations around the world have had to continue to adjust and deal with the impact of the pandemic.

Along with cutting staff, the league will also restructure aspects of the business and will turn their sites to four key areas of emphasis:

  1. Recovering financial strength

  2. Focusing on fans

  3. Investment in grassroots footie

  4. Investing in technology

The focus here by the AFL is something we can all learn from right now and should give us the inspiration to ask what we can do now.

In my business, I’m focusing on 3 areas as we head through the pandemic:

  1. A focus on strategy

  2. Using technology to expand my impact

  3. Finding new ways to share my ideas and knowledge

For all of us, we should be doing a few things to emulate the AFL:

  1. Focusing on the value we offer

  2. Finding ways to focus our attention on our customers

  3. Regaining our financial security

Speaking of:

4. Jobs in sports business might not be coming back for a bit:

The more I chat with folks around the world of sports business, I think the job slump is going to be a bit longer than any of us hope for.

Next week, I will post a conversation I had with Brett Zalaski from about two weeks ago that covers a lot of the challenges sales teams are going to be dealing with going forward.

But this article is interesting and presents the case of change and slow recovery from a few different angles, including mine.

As we work our way through the pandemic, I think this article highlights a few things we have to keep in mind:

  • The speed of the recovery is uncertain due to a lot of factors like liability issues, vaccines, financial issues, and demand.

  • The skills that will be needed to fill jobs going forward might look different than the skills that folks were using before the pandemic.

From my point of view, if you are working on getting back into the industry or trying to take on a different role within the world of sports, entertainment, and tickets, you should consider a few things:

  • What do you want to do or become in the industry going forward? Is it the same or different?

  • What skills or tools do you need to learn or develop to put yourself in the position to standout when hiring and new jobs start opening up?

  • How are you going to develop yourself? Network? Up-skill now?

  • What’s your action plan?

I just finished recording a podcast that will come out in a few weeks with Eric Rozenberg for his podcast and he asked me about reinvention. This is a topic I will cover with Dorie Clark on my podcast right after Labor Day, but I have 3 ideas to share right now:

  • Identify the value you want to create for folks in the future.

  • Figure out how that value can be monetized, both, by you and by the folks you are hoping to work with.

  • Ask yourself if the value you want to create and the value that you can monetize line up with what you’ve been doing…if it doesn’t, what are you going to do to change to get yourself in a position to do the kind of work you want to do in the future?

5. New revenue streams and new use ideas are going to be a key going forward for a lot of people:

Another question from my latest podcast appearances, “How did you become ‘The Revenue Architect?’”

Simple.

When you grow up in rural Georgia and you aren’t one of the “rich” families in town, you recognize that marketing and selling is a path to a brighter future.

That’s why I love revenue: security.

So when I see these stories about new revenue streams and new ways of doing business, my first thought is “Hallelujah!”

I wrote a white paper about a year and a half ago with 101 ways to monetize your events and that likely needs a refresh, but I think this is the most hopeful story of all the ones I am doing this week because it is focusing on things we can control:

  • Demand creation

  • Sales and service

  • Creativity

As I’ve said on many occasions, revenue is a process and you are only limited in the numbers of ways that you can monetize yourself by your creativity or lack of creativity. In fact, if you want me to rant, just tell me you are limited to just a few tried and true revenue streams.

Ask Martin from Activity Stream, he’ll tell you that on a webinar class I pulled out at least a dozen ways to monetize events coming back that he hadn’t even heard of before I started talking about them.

Here are three keys to monetization and revenue going forward:

  1. Be very clear where the revenue comes into your organization and where your profits are coming from. Break down the silos.

  2. Be clear about your value proposition and whether or not you need to change it for the new reality your business is operating in. Then change it if necessary.

  3. Regularly brainstorm new ideas, not all of them are going to work, but if you look around and think about all the ways that folks monetize things in other industries, you will find some interesting things that can apply to your situation.

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I’m still in DC! But I may go to Philly Saturday for a quick trip to get the boy, Pat’s and Geno’s. He’s been wanting to try the two and have a taste test all summer and school comes back on Monday! So…

Check out the podcast.

I didn’t talk about the social issues going on with the NBA, MLB, WNBA, and MLS this week but I did do a podcast with Amira Rose Davis a few weeks back that talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and put the actions and the ideas into a historical context. Amira is a professor of history at Penn State and she's a teacher through and through. If you want to learn more about the issue, this might be a good spot to begin.

If you haven’t done the survey yet, check it out.

If you aren’t in our Slack group, what are you waiting for?

I talked with my friend, Richard Howle, for the podcast and we covered the West End, the recovery, and so many other things. Richard is one of the smartest people I know on the way that pricing in the theatre is done and he’s a great friend. So this is a good one to check out.

Visit my friends at the We Will Recover project for new ideas, classes, and webinars. This was put together by the folks at Activity Stream. Martin has given me a behind the scenes look at some cool new things coming in the next few weeks.

And, check out my friends at Booking Protect. Cat recently wrote up a great piece on rebuilding relationships and trust after the pandemic. Check it out and if you have been thinking about offering refund protection, now is a great time to chat with Cat, Cath, Simon, or someone else at Booking Protect.