An Example Of Technology Straightjackets

Last week’s post about limitations in many of the box office and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms that specialize in the performing arts field place artificial limitations on customer experience and revenue potential garnered some interesting direct feedback.

Admittedly, I can get ahead of myself when it comes to creating a common frame of reference and several readers sent direct messages saying they couldn’t imagine what I was describing.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Adaptistration People 132Let’s say a performing arts organization wanted to create an affiliate marketing program to help develop influencer marketing and reward supporters for driving ticket buying traffic to your site. A popular provider for this type of functionality is AffiliateWP, a WordPress based system that makes setting up and managing an affiliate program easy for all skill levels (I use it for my Venture Event Manager affiliate program).

For a platform like this to work, it must track a user from reference point, to landing page, to checkout. After the buyer completes a purchase, the referrer receives a commission.

It’s pretty straightforward, but it only works if the system can track that user through each stage in the process.

AffiliateWP not only provides the capability to implement that tracking, but it integrates with nearly 30 ecommerce and payment gateway platforms that function as the crucial “this is where the buyer gives you money” end-point in that process.

Here’s their current list: Notice that none of the usual suspects among performing arts-oriented box office/CRM providers are on that list. The only one that comes close is GiveWP, but that’s geared more toward charitable non-ticket based nonprofit orgs.

That means if you wanted to implement an affiliate program at your organization, you’d have to pay a developer to program everything from scratch. Spoiler: that’s not inexpensive.

AffiliateWP will cost anywhere from $150-$500/year but custom programming will cost thousands.

Consequently, most arts orgs can’t even have a conversation about exploring the potential for an affiliate marketing program. guess how long it will take to catch up by going slower?

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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