Better To Shun The Bait Than Struggle In The Snare

There’s an interesting article by David Rohde from his Medium blog that examines how the traditional telemarketing approach isn’t just a path of diminishing returns, it’s downright self-defeating. Granted, we’ve been examining this very idea for years, but Rohde manages to provide some really useful connections to help drive the point home while keeping a few key points concise.

He sets up the discussion with an excellent title: “How Telemarketing Helped Sing the Metropolitan Opera.”

It’s super timely and more than just clickbait thanks to providing concrete examples connected to the setup. In a nutshell, Rohde talks about the dangers of relying on short term gains made by squeezing ticket buyers for added revenue. In this instance, he focuses on the old-school post-concert sales call and how much money organizations end up leaving on the table for the chance to snatch a little off here and now.

“Name another product or service that announces after it’s won a new customer that they underbilled you and you’re not welcome back until you fork over more dough for the first time.”

Granted, the cynic in me immediately thought “the companies that are really good at this wait until they provide a service you think you can’t live without; then they upsell you with an offer you can’t refuse, like Amazon Prime.”

Rohde then covers the smarter long tail strategy in the form of evangelizing your new ticket buyers and creating social incentives.

Finally there’s a basic strategy issue. The Met’s goal with any new patron should have been to get them to tell five friends about how exciting it was to attend the opera and bring them all the next time. The funny thing is that the Metropolitan Opera has a lot of advantages and assets to sell in service of this strategic goal if they would stop trying to make their operating deficits the customers’ problem.

Not only is this approach is the very premise of the Take A Friend To The Orchestra program but it’s a good way to start the conversation about repackaging the way organization’s feed the revenue beast. The old-school appeal of “inform, shame, and pressure” simply won’t cut it.

I could go on, but you should pop over to Rohde’s post and give it a read. I’m curious to know what you think.

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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