LESSONS FROM AMAZON

“We don’t make money when we sell things, we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions.”  That’s a quote credited to Jeff Bezos from the book The Everything Store as well as the presentation Ticketfly’s new Director of Marketing, Kristina Wallender gave at the Aspen Live Conference in December.

Kristina’s talk was titled “4 Things The Music Business Can Learn from Amazon”.  The two points I took away were 1) Obsess Over Customers and 2) Test and Measure.  We can all do a lot more of both.

At the beginning of Kristina’s talk, she asked for a show of hands of attendees who had used Amazon in the past year…almost the entire room raised their hands.  Kristina followed with, “now keep your hands up if you were wowed (not sure of her exact words) by their service”…and nearly everyone kept their hands up.

We all know ways to obsess over our customers, but we don’t…so others do.  Everyone screams about not getting a cut of ‘scalper’s’, “broker’s”, “agency’s”, and secondary market’s lift on tickets instead of asking how we can emulate them.  Talk with your friends with money outside our business and you will find most would rather use their “guys” who know what events they would like, seat locations, parking and VIP packages they prefer, and even hotels they may like instead of going to the primary market where they have no direction and can’t get what they want even if they knew what they wanted.

One thing Kristina challenged those in the room to “test and measure” that got everyone’s blood pressure rising was refundable tickets.  Ask yourself the same question.  Do you believe a refundable ticket would have a positive or negative effect on overall sales of a show?  Whether your answer is yes or no, would you be willing to test and measure results?  Take half the house…or even a much smaller percentage and offer them as refundable tickets.  Kind of like purchasing travel insurance or Ticketmaster’s new product for live entertainment…but the guest doesn’t have to pay.  Take the price out…or offer it as an option.  The airlines (not always the business model you want to follow but roll with me) sell refundable tickets at a higher price.  Try it all.  See what works.

Do you test and measure your marketing efforts?  The joke in our business is “half of our advertising works, we just aren’t sure which half”.  Well that can, must and will change or you will be looking for a new gig.  You should be maximizing ROI, and with “big data”, testing and measuring the results has never been easier.

A few other things you may want to ask Kristina, yourself, team, friends, industry peeps, artists, and most importantly your guests… 1) How can we use in-store, or in our case in-venue messaging to serve the fan better and thus sell more stuff?  2) What are the best ways to target messaging and distribution?  3) How do you include customers and potential customers in the process (poster contests, street teams, online videos, volunteers to collect/ capture guest data etc.)? 4) How would you setup an “Amazon Prime” for live entertainment where members actually pay more for services?

On a personal note, it would not be right to closeout 2013 without mentioning how our friends Sue Mclean and Milt Olin touched our lives.  I know I speak for many of you when I say these two were both great people taken much too young.

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