It’s a frustrating cycle. Each season, a parade of new single ticket buyers march through the doors of theatres and concert halls across the country. Once the show ends, they applaud, gather their things, march out the door, and never come back. With fewer repeat buyers, marketers are forced to attract (and lose) new audiences all over again in the next season.
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In 2008, Oliver Wyman worked with nine prominent U.S. orchestras to study the experience and behavior of first-time concert goers. The results were published in June of that year in “Turning First-Timers Into Life-Timers“. That report sparked a lot of conversation in the orchestra world and influenced the thinking of its marketing leaders (see the Jan-Feb 2009 Symphony article “Into Thin Air” for reactions and the Jan-Feb 2010 Symphony article “The Price is Right” for stories on orchestras applying the report’s recommendations).
I was recently made aware of the First-Timers report by the good folks at the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) — where we’ve been plying our data-driven trade for the past year. Wyman’s methodology — a) customer segmentation b) loyalty driver research c) targeted and tested promotions — is chock full of the basic staples of a data-driven diet. However, some of the report’s emphasis and a few recommendations struck me as off. With all due respect to the Wyman consultants, I’d like to offer a (somewhat) dissenting opinion on First-Timers.
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