Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

LESSONS FROM AMAZON

January 13, 2014

“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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JAMIE LOEB

December 16, 2013

Jamie Loeb, VP Marketing, Nederlander Concerts spoke in an Aspen Live 2013 meeting for only 10-minutes…maybe less.  The impact is still to be measured.

While Jamie was discussing how easy it should be to have artists and promoters working together in the Social Media / Social Marketing space, Anita Elberse, our guest speaker and Professor at the Harvard Business School where she teaches a very popular class on entertainment and sports, asked me who Jamie was…thought she was very smart…would I make an intro?

Of course Anita is right (much more to come on her so stay tuned to upcoming LiveWorks Newsletters). Jamie is one of the best marketers in Live Music and you would and could argue all of Live Entertainment. She “obsesses over customers”, “tests and measures” (more from the Kristina Wallender from TicketFly’s talk on things we can learn from Amazon in upcoming newsletters), and finds ways to sell more tickets each year.  Jamie is always ahead of the curve, and whether we admit to it or not, end up following her lead into adding more and more weapons to our marketing arsenals.

What you may not know about Jamie is all the time and effort (along with others who will be covered in future newsletters) she puts into each year’s Aspen Live Conference.  We would be remorseful to not thank Jamie for all the organizing, input, and love she adds each year…and pays to attend on top.

Thank you very much Jamie!  You are certainly in our 1%’s club.

Want to know more about Jamie, Aspen Live 2014 and more, stay-tuned for upcoming Aspen Updates.

ART AND THE ARTIST

June 29, 2011

I read everything Seth Godin puts out (at least try to).  Not always on the day or week… or in this case even year it is released, but you can bet I’ll get to it.  That’s why we had to have him speak at the Aspen Live Conference 5-years ago.  He truly is as Ad Age dubbed him, “Marketer of the Decade”.  Anyway, just finished Linchpin and Graceful and can recommend them both highly.  You can go to Amazon right now and order them or download them to your Kindle right now.   

What was most exciting (besides the learning of course) is we all know people in his books…especially Linchpin.  Seth describes musician Keller Williams as only a true fan could.  He talks about the contributions of Bob Lefsetz to the music business…his warnings years ago to the labels…and how so many of them are now gone but Bob has just gotten bigger.

Seth describes how agent, promoter, manager and Madison House owner Nadia Prescher succeeds because of her passion for her artists…and the Madison House team broke the mold.  They didn’t follow the rules.  They’re managers and agents…and promoters.    

Seth speaks of both Bob and Nadia as artists.  They do their art for love…because they have to.  It is their calling.  Seth says you are an artist too.  Do you love what you do?  If not, why?  Stop and look around, art is everywhere.  As Godin says, you don’t need to write, hold a brush, sculpt, or play an instrument to be an artist.  You just need to be able to complete what you start without money being the first and only objective.  Seth calls this “shipping”.  Think of the way labels used to ship product.  Same concept here except what’s being shipped doesn’t have to be made in a factory.  In fact it shouldn’t.  It can be made tomorrow at work…right at your desk.

Till then, Happy Reading!

Jim

 

AMAZON OF TICKET SALES

November 15, 2010

A few years ago my cousin Annie turned me on to Goldstar.com.  Goldstar is a discounting ticketing company…of sorts, but only markets to its members.  Last week I got to sit-down with their head of Venue Relations Wendi Lebow to talk about their business.

It seems that the music industry is the slowest catching on to how great Goldstar really is.  Many managers and agents feel that if Goldstar has tickets for half the price of what a regular ticket costs, the consumer will just purchase from Goldstar.  That’s not how it works though.

You see, everyone who becomes a member of Goldstar is looking for a deal…or to be informed.  These are consumers that wouldn’t normally go to your concert, theatre performance or sporting event…but become aware of it through Goldstar.  To many of us, Goldstar actually helps sell full-priced tickets since the company markets to members based on their previous purchases and preferences.  Really they are the Amazon of ticket sales. 

Please let me encourage all of you to find ways to work with Goldstar.  You don’t have to give them every seat to sell…and can always add more if you need to.  The reality is that Goldstar is as much of a marketing tool as it is a ticket membership discounter.  Start working with them before your show goes on-sale and watch what happens.  Theatre and sports have had a lot of success working with them…and you can too.

For more information on Goldstar you can visit their website or hit me with an email and I will put you in-touch with them as Jamie Loeb from Nederlander did for me (she is a big fan too).

On another note, we are weeks away from the Aspen Live Conference and have gotten our special rates at our host hotels extended.  Please write or call for more info.

Speak with you soon!

Jim

INNOVATION WINS EVERY TIME!

August 3, 2009

In a recent article in Advertising AgeJack Heff writes  about a new product from SC Johnson that exceeded sales expectations by 400%…in a recession…with a really high price point for what it is…insect repellent.   The Off Clip-On Fan’s suggested retail price is $9…if you can find it as it is sold-out almost everywhere.  But Neff’s article says that Amazon (who does have it in-stock) “is charging $12.89 for a starter kit and $8.49 for refills…”  Can you imagine a fancy bug repellent dispenser selling in this economy while we can’t give our tickets away (it still costs too much to park, eat, drive, get a sitter, etc)???  Someone needs to turn us upside down and shake us!  We need to get the innovators from our business out there innovating!

We have seen what C3, Superfly, Goldenvoice/AEG Live, AC, Coran Capshaw, Kevin Lyman, CAA, and William Morris (among others) have been able to create in the past on the festival front.  It has built new businesses for many of our clients and changed the landscape of the U.S. concert business.  I know that many of you reading this wish you were in business with several if not all of those above.  I do!  So what’s next?  Where is the next Cirque?  How about ice shows?  Remember when they were the rage?  We need a good swift kick in the… innovation!

DINNER CLUB – NY

It seems that most cities are taking August off from Aspen Dinner Club Meetings (if you haven’t been to one yet, you really should go)…but not our die-hard New Yorkers!!!  You don’t have to be in the music or live businesses to come.  You just need to have a brain…and a little cash to chip-in.  Please forward to anyone you think should come.  RSVP is preferred as Gayle Miller has reserved a private room …email @ rockinhorse@mac.com.  Anyway, the information is below.  Have Fun!!!

Stitch was voted the Best Afterwork Bar by CitySearch.com, offers food & drink, & will give us a “happy hour” deal. 

Date:  Wed, Aug 5

Time:  7 pm – 9 pm ish

Location:  Stitch Bar & Lounge

                         247 West 37th Street (between 7th & 8th)

                         (212) 852-4826

 

 

 

                        http://www.stitchnyc.com/

Speak with you soon…

Jim

MOVING FORWARD

March 2, 2009

Many of you have emailed regarding the positive spin I tried to put on the TicketMaster / Live Nation merger in the newsletter a few weeks ago  https://liveworksnews.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=274.  If the notes I received were actually from SEC regulators, the deal would never happen.  But of course they aren’t.  The hearings on Capital Hill are a near formality in my humble opinion.  The two companies would have never announced the deal if their lawyers didn’t think the merger would pass the “sniff test” both hear and in the EU.  Might they have to sell-off a few businesses to make everyone happy, sure…but this deal is happening and will close, so we might as well move forward.  You know that Irving and Rapino are….Tim and Randy at AEG too. 

It is interesting the way others view our business.  For instance, pick-up the March 2009 issue of Fast Company.  In it are “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies”.  As you would expect, the usual suspects are there; Apple, Google, Amazon, Zappos, Disney, Warner Music Group, CAA…wait, WARNER MUSIC GROUP and CAA!!!!  And not just WMG and CAA, both AEG and Live Nation are listed as “Companies to Watch”.  Are we all missing something?  Are we too busy playing armchair quarterbacks to see that the time of innovation is passing us by? 

Truth is there are a lot of good things we can talk about.  WMG now has a merchandising company that makes a profit not only for them, but for their artists too.  CAA teamed clients Will Ferrell and Tony Hawk with Sequoia Capital to create web brands FunnyorDie.com and ShredorDie.com.  AEG continues to invest in our business by building state-of-the-art facilities and Live Nation is about to pull-off one hell of a merger (too bad it probably won’t do anything for my stock). 

The time for innovation is now.  Just think about how many companies were started during the Great Depression.  Banks are going to be put under more pressure to give out business loans.  Have an idea, it is time to Move Forward!

Talk with you soon…

Jim

CUSTOMER SERVICE CHAMPS

February 24, 2009

First, did you all catch the Senate hearings today on the Live Nation / Ticketmaster merger?  It was weird seeing people you have known well for 20-years testifying on Capital Hill.  Thought Irving was…well Irving and handled himself well.  Seth Hurwitz did a really good job.  Well spoken, facts at the top of his head, he represented the independent promoters well.  Although most senators present seemed to be negative towards the merger, it will probably still pass scrutiny, so everyone keep moving forward. 

My friend Scott Perry who writes The New Music Tipsheet http://www.newmusictipsheet.com/ sent a note about the March 2nd issue of Business Week.  The cover has SPECIAL REPORT printed on the top.  The topic, “Extreme Customer Service, In A Tough Year, 25 Companies That Get It Right”.  So what can we learn from these companies?  Just looking through the list will probably give you some ideas.  I’ve added some fun facts from the Business Week article to help.

  1. Amazon –“Some 30 % of sales come from outside retailers who sell goods on Amazon.”  Although there is more to that paragraph, you can take a lot just from that one sentence. 
  2. USAA Insurance –“Financial services firm for military families handled 150,000 catastrophe claims in 2008, double its average, as events such as Hurricane Ike destroyed customers’ homes and autos.  Still, USAA retained 96% of customers”
  3. Jaguar – “…Jaguar’s field teams for customer service were recently ranked best in the auto industry by the Nation Automobile Dealers Assn.”
  4. Lexus “…awards cash each year – as much as $50,000 – to dealers who have the best new service ideas.”
  5. The Ritz-Carlton – “To lure corporate event planners worried about high-end confabs amid the recession, Ritz will donate 10% of corporate meeting fees to charity.”
  6. Publix Super Markets – “To ensure customers always find what they come looking for, upscale Florida-based grocer Publix adopted an “automated replenishment” system in 2008 for fresh items.  Scanners indicate when inventory levels are low, and software automatically orders replacements.”
  7. Zappos.com – “With no monitoring of call times and no scripts, call centers have so much power it’s critical to make sure they’re a cultural fit.  To do that, CEO Tony Hsieh offers new customer service agents $2000 to leave the company after an initial training period if the new hires don’t think they mesh with Zappos’ zany culture.”
  8. Hewlett-Packard – “In 2008, Hewlett-Packard opened eight new customer service centers worldwide, including two in the U.S.”
  9. T. Rowe Price – To meet the customer service questions that flooded the company following the start of the financial crisis, “the company tapped 300 employees who formerly worked the phones to help meet call demand.”
  10. Ace Hardware – “…rolled out new technology that analyzes past shopping patterns to tell store managers what time of day is quietest for tasks like shelving products and cleaning rest rooms.”
  11. Key Bank – “In the past year, the bank unveiled new online tools that give entrepreneurs many of the cash-management services long reserved for large companies…”
  12. Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts – “…is outsourcing laundry to third parties at some properties and combining some hotel management roles to help save labor costs.”
  13. Norstrom – “Nordsrom’s famous return policy lets customers return any item at any store…”
  14. Cadillac – “Despite General Motors’ cash crunch, Cadillac has not scalled back on guaranteeing loaner cars to customers while their cars are in the shop.”
  15. Amica Insurance – “…CEO Bob DiMuccio says what sets the company apart is decades of investment in the staff, which has a turnover rate of less than 7%.”
  16. Enterprise Rent-A-Car – “…management pay and promotion are directly related to a store’s service performance.”
  17. American Express – New compensation model for call center agents…”offer them incentives tied to satisfaction scores and the flexibility to trade shifts.”
  18. Trader Joe’s Supermarket – “Some 99% of employees work in the stores, and even CEO Dan Bane doesn’t have an assistant.”
  19. Jetblue Airways – “…Jetblue created the industry’s first Customer Bill of Right – which includes providing compensation for passengers affected by problems caused by the carrier.”
  20. Apple – “Last year the company posted the largest one-year increase ever in the University of Michigan’s closely watched American Customer Satisfaction Index.”  Can you say Genius Bar?
  21. Charles Schwab – “A push to reduce the number of steps it takes to open new accounts has helped to shorten some call times, freeing up reps to answer calls faster.”
  22. BMW – “Now BMW ties rewards to how well dealers look after dissatisfied customers.”
  23. True Value – The company is expanding its online survey capabilities.
  24. L.L. Bean – “A simplified software system for entering orders has greatly reduced the training time for new hires.” 
  25. JW Marriott – “… tried to improve service by cross-training employees such as administrative assistants, who have been taught to serve food at banquets.  That keeps service leves high without having to hire more staff.”

Here is the short list of what I took from the top 25.  Some are the same old themes you always hear from me… I’m sorry, but it’s what I see above.

  • Use technology to serve customers, employees and save money
  • Hire the right people
  • Train your employees properly
  • Provide generous compensation packages for employees tied to customer satisfaction, not just sales
  • Have a philanthropic side that matches your customers’ concerns
  • Don’t keep customers holding!  Have a person answer the phone, not a machine
  • Treat your customers like gold…because these days they are worth a lot more

Talk with you soon…

Jim