Time To Change Things Up A Bit

During a time when the word change is saddled with all sorts of cringe inducing imagery, it’s high time to remember that change can bring good news and improvements as much as it can be used as a metaphor for something unpleasant.

It has been almost a full year since I launched The Venture Platform but it’s time to make some changes.

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<full disclosure mode>For those unaware, The Venture Platform is a service I launched at the onset of the 2010/11 season as a subsidiary business of my consulting practice. Designed especially for performing arts organizations, it’s a technology solution that provides everything your organization needs to build and maintain your online presence; web, email marketing, and more all with a comprehensive support system.

It is a service I am genuinely proud of and it is one of the very few items that is an exception to my mantra of not using Adaptistration to promote my own consulting services or related offerings. Now, I take that mantra seriously and as a result, posts such as this are few and far between but when they do appear, you can rest assured they are nothing but transparent, candid, and sincere. </full disclosure mode>


Changes To Subscription Plans & Options

To begin with, I’m very happy to say that sales goals are being met and the system is on track to sustain its no growth fee policy. As such, all annual fees will remain unchanged for the upcoming season. We’ve also reconfigured the initial three price tiers into two tiers with the third being divided into a la cart upgrades and addons.

One thing we discovered over the course of the past year is potential users expressed interest in one or more of the enhanced features that were part of the third, and most expensive, price tier but they didn’t need everything that came bundled in that package. As such, we broke it up so users can pick and choose which of those items they want without absorbing the bundled package price point. Those upgrades are itemized on a new page at the Venture website.

More Payment Options

In addition to the existing annual payment plan (which schedules all annual payments on the first Monday of September because we know that’s the best time for most performing arts organizations), we’re now offering a monthly automatic recurring payment option that pulls payments directly from a company credit card or even a PayPal account.

More Project Management

One discovery that was an honest surprise to me this past year was the numbers of groups interested in an upgrade that would increase the amount of direct support offered to get their new site up and running. This included requests for everything from basic project management to custom programming and graphic design and even year-round account management. As such, we’ve added each of those items to our new list of
a la cart upgrades
; some of which have standard flat fees and others are determined via written proposal based on the amount of work needed.

More Discounts

Sure, no price increases and upgrade options are nice but I can already hear it: what about some [bleep] discounts!?! No worries, we still offer our two existing options in the form of Referral Rewards and Certification Program discounts but we’ve added a new option for this year in the form of an email marketing opt-out credit.

We discovered that a number of potential clients simply couldn’t get out of existing email marketing account contracts without paying a large fee or being burdened with an unnecessarily complex extraction process. Granted, we’d love nothing more than to fix those problems by finding ways to release new clients from those archaic systems designed to keep you as a customer regardless of whether or not it is in your best interests, but in the end, we want to make user’s lives easier so we decided to offer a flat rate discount for those groups who opt-out of Venture’s included Vertical Response email marketing account.

The even better news is that users can opt-in at any point in the term of their contract and only pay a prorated difference from the point where they start service.

Latest System Upgrades

Prices may be staying the same but the system’s core features and functionality are getting better. We’re currently working on v1.5 which will incorporate a number of user generated suggestions to the event management system along with an additional set of extensive point-and-click styling tools. We expect to roll out the new release by the end of August.

New User Profile Galleries

One of the most requested items for the sales site since its launch was a list of who’s using Venture and now that we’re in the process of making updates, we have had the time to create a special User Portfolio section that not only show you highlighted pages from representative user’s Venture powered websites, but they also provide details behind custom features and creative uses put into place by each user.

Likewise, we’ve grouped the portfolios into four primary categories, designed to give you a better understanding of how certain levels of base usage, custom development work, or upgrades can impact the final product: no custom development, light custom development, moderate custom development, and extensive custom development. We’ll be updating and adding users through the course of the upcoming season so check in from time to time to see what’s new.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Work-Hours

A common question from new users is how long it will take to get their new site up and running. Although the actual amount of time is dictated by a number of factors, the majority of users can be divided into one of three groups based on the amount of new content they have, personnel resources to allocate to the project, and potential custom development. From this, we’ve created a trio of deployment timeline charts that layout exactly what you can expect based on those three conditions.


Keep in mind, all of this is only what we’ve changed so it’s in addition to all of the other stuff arts orgs need in a service like this and that Venture is already chocked full of. I could go on and on; putting Venture together and helping users get up and running has been an enormously fulfilling addition to my regular consulting work. And although that work is equally rewarding, when it comes to technology, Venture is just plain old fun.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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