The Risk of Not “Being a Hero”

The Risk of Not “Being a Hero”

by Stephen Skrypec, VP, UK & Europe

At TRG Arts, our best clients are led by people who believe in the power of investment… It’s scary to justify spending more, especially when you are at real risk of not meeting budget goals. As a leader, when you need to make savings, where do you cut first? What questions do you ask when your team is requesting an increased budget size next year? Here’s what we know: making smart investments drives returns that will make you a hero. 

Think about these points as you plan your investments for next year.

1. Understand Your Marketing ROI 

Before you can think about investing further, ask your team if they know what return you are getting on your current marketing investments. Do you know how many dollars or pounds are returned for every penny of your marketing investment?  Do you know which marketing channels are best at attracting new audiences and how well you are retaining existing? Is the balance, right, given your current audience retention rates? With the correct metrics at the heart of your marketing planning, you’ll feel confident that your marketing spend is appropriately allocated with a view to generating the highest return-on-investment every time. 

Top Tips 

  • Make sure your team understands the cost-of-sale (expenses divided by revenue) on every show and every marketing tactic. 
  • Insist that your team not only show you how they'll attract new audiences, but how they will measure and invest in retention activities too. 
  • Be the leader that makes it OK to stop spending when it's not working. The full-page newspaper ad may be nice to see, but is it driving ticket sales? 

Pro Tip:

Read the Pensacola Opera case study about how the organization invested in their production of Carmen to reach a single ticket revenue 33% above their sales goal. 

2. Make Every Seat Count

Do you have a scale-of-house plan that is generating additional revenue when you have demand? Do you have a strategy to carefully manage the perception of the success of your organisation when you're not in demand? Is your programmatic or artistic team creating deals with presenters that ensure you are mutually incentivized to continue to sell? 

There's a whole lot to consider here, but your team should be aligned around the strategy for managing your most important asset carefully: every seat counts. With the right process, you'll be able to invest confidently in your artistic product knowing that for any outcome you'll not only be working to grow revenue but also loyalty, even in low demand scenarios. 

Top Tips: 

  • Measure the per-capita revenue for every production, ensuring that it grows as you get closer to opening night even before you start dynamic pricing. 
  • Check your lowest and highest demand performances. How did the house look and feel? Was the revenue opportunity maximized? What changes could you make to improve? 
  • Coach your programmatic or artistic team to create deal structures with presenters that ensure both venue and producer are set up for success. 

Pro Tip:

Watch our webinars:
Dynamic Pricing is Not Enough, to learn more about how Sheffield Theatres used a three-pronged strategy for pricing and demand management.
- Five Reasons Your Ticket Sales Might be Declining... demonstrates how you can improve your sales, drive loyalty and grow revenue in your organisation, with tactical ways in which you can take action to implement strategies when ticket sales are not going as anticipated.

3. Recognize That Donors Are on a Journey 

It's natural to look to a donor database to give more, and one big campaign isn't going to get you there. every patron on your database is at a different stage in their relationship with you. Make sure your development team can show you how every segment is being communicated with in a way that will grow new and existing donors beyond one or two key moments in your fiscal year. 

Top Tips: 

  • Review your 2020 donor campaign plan to ensure retention and upgrade planning is included at every step. 
  • Audit your donor benefits to ensure they incentivize upgrade and encourage patrons to develop a long-standing relationship with your organization. 
  • Find an hour to sit with your marketing and development teams, to ensure there is alignment and silo-free working between them. 

Pro Tip:

Find out how Vancouver-based theatre company Arts Club Theatre Company put data to work to cultivate their donors in this case study.

4. Invest in Your People

Finally, what about your teams? They are the leaders of the future and the bright sparks that care passionately about your artform and the impact you have on their community. Do you have a budget line that is focused on developing and growing them? Do you create a culture of trust that keeps their wings unclipped and celebrates brave innovation? Are you investing time in building a loyal team? 

Top Tips: 

  • Ask for feedback as a leader today and every day. 
  • Create a budget line and insist department leaders demonstrate how this will be allocated to fuel professional development across their teams. 
  • Spend time getting to know each one of your team members and understand how they do their daily work. In doing so, you will gain a better understanding of how that work impacts the future of loyalty in your organization. 

Pro Tip:

Dive into the latest issues of Arts Leadership Review which showcases a variety of perspectives and points of view of how leaders should embrace building a more resilient organisation for the future.

As you make your plans for 2020, consider how you can: 1) invest to grow, 2) invest for the future and 3) be a data-driven leader that be confident of a thriving, successful and growing organization. 

Want to take the next step? Get in touch with us  out to us and about whether you're investing in the right places. 

Article first published December 2018. Updated December 2019.

Posted December 10, 2019

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