When the going got tough at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Director of External Affairs Katie Jackman and her team got going on a program for retaining first-time single ticket buyers – and stuck with it in the face of budget cuts, staff furloughs, and their own occasional doubts. Acting on TRG counsel Jackman and the SRT team launched their effort by getting new buyers to come again during their first season – achieving a “second date” with first-time patrons. When that led to triple the retention rate among new single ticket buyers, SRT kept going. They rolled out a disciplined, purposeful cultivation effort over the next three seasons, a program TRG lauds as a model for the industry. (Read case study here.)
In this free webinar, Jackman and the SRT team joined TRG’s VP of Strategic Communications Joanne Steller to trace the four-year history and results of SRT’s new buyer retention program and to answer your questions about its applicability to your organization. Attendees learned:
• How SRT conducted and continued “second date” retention efforts among new-to-file single ticket buyers.
• What SRT did, what they stopped doing, and what they’ll do next to achieve growth in new patron engagement and revenue.
• Examples of strategic practices you may want to adopt.
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Who was selected to be in Seattle Rep's "Cultivation Group”?
The term "cultivation group" is the name given to the group of patrons whose purchase behavior Seattle Rep and TRG followed in this case study. They were not selected. They were designated as the Cultivation Group because they were new-to-file ticket buyers in 2009-2010 who also came back for at least one more show that same season as a result of SRT's "second date" retention efforts. This group continued to receive special treatment and communications over four years.
What is cost-of-sale?
It is a way to measure the effectiveness of marketing investment. The formula is:
Total marketing campaign expenses
Revenue generated by that campaign
The Seattle Rep case study found that retention could be achieved at a relatively low cost-of-sale.
How/if they used email in the campaign?
Email did not play a major role in Seattle Rep's efforts. Direct mail did. SRT kept their costs of mailing down by targeting quantities precisely and keeping design and production formats consistent and easily repeatable. Mail in this case got patrons' attention and response.
What can leaders/staff do to collaborate between marketing/development?
This is an important subject that TRG will devote specific content to in coming months. Stay tuned! Because Seattle Rep has integrated marketing and development functions led by Katie Jackman, collaboration on retention was relatively easy to achieve. A take away from the case study is that the techniques and special skills of both marketing and development staff plus the ticket office contributed to Seattle Rep's success. Jackman and her colleagues found new patrons and taught them how to be a loyal patron. While that meant suspending donation asks temporarily, by the end of the 4-year period they had cultivated subscribers and more loyal “donor-ready” patrons.