Posts Tagged ‘Consumers’

LIVE’S LESSONS FROM RETAIL

April 18, 2009

Albertsons’ grocery stores have been running ads for their new 4:15 Dinner Plans (Dinner for 4 for under $15 dollars).  http://tinyurl.com/d49u9c  This is a great program!  It’s easy for consumers to understand; and on a busy schedule, a great way to help shoppers make purchase decisions not only on where to shop, but what to shop for.  Couldn’t we do the same thing in Live Entertainment?

Six Flags amusement parks are trying with “buy one day’s admission and get the entire year for free.”  Although the right thought (Disney and Universal Parks do the same) Six Flags is closing-in on Chapter 11.  What are they doing wrong???  It must be customer experience!

Go to a Six Flags park and you will understand their problems immediately….as soon as you get to the front gates.  Why are there lines to take people’s money?  Those that should be the most well trained…the staff that first makes contact with guests, are holding everything up by not knowing how to work the equipment properly or understanding what consumer’s options are… and don’t care how long you have been waiting.  From there you can go to food selection and price, chewing gum stuck everywhere on every ride, and employees that either didn’t want to be there or were more interested in picking up the opposite sex than doing their jobs. 

I do believe Live Nation has a program where music fans get  tickets, hot dogs, and drinks for one price…but don’t believe they run those promotions until a show is in trouble (I could be wrong).  We all have some homework to do.  There is no reason the Live business should be out promoted by grocery store chains.  Let’s hear some of your ideas.  Promotions that are easy for fans to understand, fit into their busy schedules…and of course don’t cost a lot.  Maybe instead of the 4:15 plan, we go up to  4:20!!!

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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LAYAWAY…AGAIN

March 19, 2009

In yesterday’s Billboard Bulletin, there was a piece on Glastonbury Festival’s ticketing layaway plan being a big part of this year’s early sell-out.  The story goes on to say that 2008’s festival didn’t sell-out till the week before the event in June.  This year, they are clean already.  The reason, most opted-in for the pay half now, half later option. 

Goldenvoice/AEG-Live’s festival division did a similar layaway plan with their country music festival in Southern California, Stagecoach.  I haven’t spoken with the gang lately, but know that early on, sales were up considerably from last year due to the layaway program.

A layaway plan might be something to try on your next event.  You should also look at creating an attractive lead-in price to make consumers interested to begin with. 

Speak with you soon…and have a great weekend!

Jim

IMPULSE BUYERS NEEDED

December 27, 2008

When you go to Las Vegas, there are a ton of live entertainment options laid out in front of you.  There’s probably a lot in your town too.  Should there be a bricks & mortar option for ticket shopping for live events?  One where you can see everything (like Ticketmaster) but have the option to purchase at a discount?

People love to shop.  Although retails sales numbers from the holidays are horrible, the fact is the malls and stores felt just as crowded as ever.  A good guess would be that like my family, Christmas didn’t go away Santa just had to tighten his belt from losing half his weight in the stock market.  Even cashed-in some American Express Membership Rewards points to get the toys for the girls (this Santa doesn’t have boys) this year.  So now Christmas is over and we are looking for things to do.  Go to ticketmaster.com and you can find things, but if you are a normal family, this is not something you can do on the fly due to cost.  With live entertainment promoters of all kinds looking for ways to sell “remnant tickets”, we should have at least one business dedicated to selling tickets to IMPULSE BUYERS.

There are probably millions that still don’t know what they are doing on New Year’s Eve, 2008.  Many will end up staying home.  Some because they want to, but others because they just can’t afford any of the options available to them…and the free ones are just not that appealing (crowds, cold, drunken people, etc).  How many live performances on New Year’s Eve do you think still have tickets available?  From the little research project we just did at our house, it is over 90%.

There is one event my family really wanted to go to this New Year’s.  The cheapest ticket is $75 plus “applicable charges”.  $75 ends-up being $89.50 per ticket to not see or hear the show very well.  In these times (or any times), that is just too much.  In a recent Reuters story on Live Nation and CEO Michael Rapino, writer Yinka Adegoke pointed out that “Rapino argues that his business will be able to weather the worst because consumers only visit one or two big shows a year, and they will always save up to see their favorite artists even in a downturn”.  Yikes, is that what the concert business has come to?  We need to attract new fans to live.  A business setup to sell tickets to any live show at any venue from any agency just might do well.

Yes, with a majority of ticket purchases happening online, there would have to be a user friendly web store with everything in it that the bricks and mortar shops have.  But if there was a well designed, laid-out ticketing store in your local up-scale mall where consumers could shop for tickets to live performances at every price, you can bet we would see more impulse buyers and thus less remnant tickets.  It is certainly worth an experiment for any one with the budget and relationships to try.  The Westfield mall in Century City, CA, a few blocks from the Agency Group Events & Entertainment offices would be a good place to start.  Las Vegas would be another.  New York City has the beginnings of this concept already working with the Theatre Development Fund’s TKTS ticket store in the middle of Times Square.

There are almost always lines at this place, and they only sell theatre tickets.  Imagine what we could do with a little effort!  Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Happy New Year!

Jim

“IF I WERE…TIM LEIWEKE”

December 6, 2008

Apologies are becoming way too common in the LiveWorks Newsletter, but I must again say I’m sorry to subscribers for sending an old newsletter to you.  To say I’m frustrated with the situation is the understatement of the century…and if any of you know anything about FeedBurner (the service that sends newsletter subscribers their emails), please let me know.  If there is an upside, as promised, at least you didn’t get the “Recession” email again.  Now on to “If I were…”

It is hard for me to wrap my brain around AEG’s business.  They separate it into AEG and AEG-Live.  AEG invests what amounts to hundreds- of- millions in new venues around the world, while AEG-Live is the concert promotion and live entertainment company built around the acquisition of Concerts West.  With all the money flying around it is hard to say how or if AEG makes any.  Since they are privately owned, AEG doesn’t report their financials, so it is even harder for me to poke my big nose into their shit.  So more than ever, please read the following disclaimer:  The “If I Were…” series is based on not knowing what the day-to-day business realities are for those written about.  Also in many situations, I’m looking at decisions from the past after they have already been played-out (or are in the middle of doing so) so it isn’t necessarily fair to play Monday morning quarterback. Oh well!  Fair or not, I like playing the position, so here are some of the things I would do “If I were…Tim Leiweke”.

· MARKETING – AEG should market itself as if it were a public company.  Meaning, they should start reaching out to consumers as a brand.  This is a real opportunity to differentiate AEG events and venues from everyone else’s.  Market in and to your communities.

· FAN RELATIONS DEPARTMENT – Goldenvoice guys should certainly be a part of this unit (just look at what they’ve done with Stagecoach’s layaway plan).  Although as per above, the whole company should be behind this mission, AEG should have a department whose only job is looking after fans (sports, music, family shows, etc).  With the intelligence they can share with the rest of the company, AEG’s whole culture will move into the role.  Think about what you could implement.

· STOP THE BIDDING WARS – In the live music business, bidding wars do a huge disservice to fans by driving ticket prices up, and thus everything else.  Create a committee to look at each opportunity and make a quick assessment of it.  Adding layers of bureaucracy can sometimes actually speed-up the decision making process since every deal wouldn’t have to pass by Randy Phillips and/or Tim.

· ENERGY/GOOD CITIZEN – The new solar panels at LA’s Staples Center and the PR that went along with it is a great example of what I’m talking about.  Getting ahead of the competition by switching over to clean energy, recycling, conservation programs, etc, will not only save you money both now (through tax breaks and energy savings) and in the future (it is said that “U.S. companies can spend billions now or trillions later”), it will make consumers feel better about doing business with you (this has been proven).  Hire a “Green Czar” that’s responsible for these initiatives.  Build it into AEG’s DNA.  The changes that Wal-Mart found their “associates” have made and continue to make since the company started its greening is amazing (looking for ways to cut down on post-consumer packaging, energy saving ideas, and even eating healthier).

· VENUES – I’m sure this isn’t the first time you have heard that several of your new concert venues and theaters are feeling a little sterile.  I think a better analogy might be a modern AMC multi-plex.  Don’t get me wrong (or anyone else saying this), I appreciate not only the investment you are making into our business, but the thought you put behind building them (production manager’s dream, great sound, etc).   Maybe your architects know something the rest of us don’t on how things will look in the future or how the venues will wear over time, but right now they could use a little more character.

· FREQUENT BUYER PROGRAM – Reward loyalty with a program that gives fans discounts on tickets, early access to the best seats, special merchandise, VIP parking without paying for it, etc.  Give them a membership card with special stamps or stickers for each show, game, or special event they attend.  Consumers can show their friends.  Think of it like the concert T-shirt you wear to school the day after the show to let everyone know you were there.  It will work with sports fans young and old the same way it works for music fans.

· THE DENVER OFFICE – AEG needs more strong local promoter acquisitions like Chuck Morris and the Denver office.  In two-years, Chuck, Brent, Don, and company have not only built two new successful music festivals, they have also managed to give Live Nation a run for their money in a market where LN owns and/or controls several major venues in the market (thus the ability to offer more money in theory).  Coincidentally it was Chuck and team (and Barry Fey as it relates to Coors Amphitheater) that built-up most of those venues.

· THE BENCH – Almost repeating myself from the item above but not really.  For some reason there is a perception that AEG doesn’t have a deep bench.  Not sure that reality matches perception (Tim, Randy, Larry, Paul, John, Chuck, Debra, etc) but it is out there.  Might be time to speak with John Scher in New York, Arny and Jerry in Chicago, and more.

· BUY LIVE NATION – They should be willing to sell it right now at a real discount.  Go directly to those that hold the IOU’s and make an offer to buy the company @ $7 per share.  The stock could fall below $4 this week.  Make your move.  Stockholders like me will be really happy to get out alive and you would end at least one war.

· RESTART DIALOGUE WITH MSG & TICKETMASTER – If buying Live Nation doesn’t work out, how about trying to re-engage conversations with MSG and/or Ticketmaster?  Again, now might be the right time to talk as both Ticketmaster and MSG are on the move and cash is king.

· BRANDS – We in live entertainment are just not getting it right when it comes to working with brands.  AEG has a great sales team (I’m sure, never met them as I have the Live Nation team, who are also very good) for their building’s naming rights etc, but need to do even more to work across their multiple platforms (venues, local concerts, tours, sports).  It is time to breath new life into our business.  I bet there are some very smart marketing and branding types who are feeling rather concerned about their Detroit jobs these days.  Sunny California probably looks pretty good right about…now.  Bet they would work for less with a big upside too.

That should be enough to keep Tim and company going for a while.  Again, please know that just as with Michael Rapino, I don’t know the realities of Tim Leiweke’s job.  These are just ideas I would work towards knowing what I know, “If I were… Tim Leiweke”.

Talk with you soon,

Jim

TOP 10 WAYS TO THRIVE IN A DOWN ECONOMY

November 29, 2008

I was reading Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2009 Trend Issue and it became evident that what the editors were saying about “businesses to start in 2009”, could be applied to the live entertainment business.  So with that in mind, and a bunch of extra stuff added, here is the Top 10 Ways To Thrive In Today’s Down Economy

 

1)       GO GREEN – You have no idea how much money you can save.  Wal-Mart found out.  Appoint a “Green Czar” for your office with the idea of taking your company Carbon Neutral.  One easy way to get your staff into this is to pass a certain percentage of savings onto your employees; although you probably don’t need to do that (it is still a good idea).  Here are some other ones.  Recycling cans and bottles, switching to florescent light bulbs (also added bonus of saving on cooling costs in summer), maintain irrigation systems and change sprinkler heads over to water saving types, car pools, install motion detecting light switches, provide “power strips” for employees to plug all chargers and electronics into (this way one switch shuts off all…most power from electronics is used when the power is actually off), etc.  Also, the simple fact that going green is a trend makes consumers want to associate with your company or product. 

 

2)       USE TECHNOLOGY – The obvious web/mobile app that will have the most immediate impact on live entertainment is the paperless ticket.  There should be a real financial savings to consumers who choose this option.  When Ticketmaster’s business went from predominantly phone sales to the web, that savings was never passed on to the consumer.  One can argue there is a cost for keeping up with technology, but Ticketmaster would have never switched over if there wasn’t a huge cost savings.  You don’t have to pay for a computer’s healthcare, sick days, taxes, etc, after all. 

 

3)       MARKET TO BOOMERS – I think the folks from Entrepreneur said it best with boomers represent “the biggest wealth transfer in history”.  Average Net worth: $257,800, Average Annual Income $71,400, 38% expected to inherit $210,000 (average), 35% have already inherited $113,000 (average).  How about a “Financial Show”, couldn’t be better timing right now?

 

4)       THINK HEALTH – Whether it is something as simple as updating your food and beverage selections, or you are developing a health related consumer show (maybe related to aging, see #3), heath is on everyone’s mind.  You should be thinking about this in your business.  Even keeping up with your staff’s healthcare maintenance can save you money by saving your employees trips to the doctor. 

 

5)       MARKET TO GENERATION Y – Echo Boomers, or whatever you call them, now number 75 million in the U.S. (Source: Deloitte Consulting), with buying power of $1 trillion (Source: U.S. Census Bureau).  Find ways to reach this game loving, social networking, born on a computer audience and get yourself a piece of that $1 trillion.  Wouldn’t suggest a “gaming tour” or festival just yet.  So far, no one has been able to figure out that model. 

 

6)       DROP OR RAISE YOUR PRICES – Look at the market.  For every case of an overpriced ticket, there is an under priced one (maybe in another show category, but you can find it).  There are so many examples of events raising their ticket prices and seeing a large sales spike.  Unfortunately, the opposite is true more often. 

 

7)       CHANGE YOUR MARKETING – We in the live business need to catch-up with the rest of those that market products.  This doesn’t have to be about spending money, but it does have to do with creativity and innovation.  Time to start listening to the young people in your office.

 

8)       STOP SPAMMING, START COMMUNICATING – I’m as guilty of this as anyone and it must stop.  Just because you have a database and a consumer gives you permission to send them info, doesn’t mean you should be sending them 3 emails per week.  Develop a dialogue with your fans and watch your business flourish. 

 

9)       FITNESS IS BACK – I would be really interested to see if places like Canyon Ranch are down in this economy.  Either way, fitness is back on consumer’s minds.  How can you work this into what you are doing in your business?  How about staging the world’s largest spinning class where a portion of the proceeds go to Lance Armstrong’s “Live Strong” campaign?  How about installing a small fitness room in your office (you would be surprised how little it can cost)?  It is proven that those that workout have more energy than those that don’t and are able to concentrate on better at work. 

 

10)     ENERGY – This has to be top-of-mind with most people these days.  Consumers couldn’t be more confused on what the options are, which ones are best, etc.  Create a show that addresses energy, and if it is entertaining and priced right, it will sell for sure.

Please always remember that we are in the live entertainment business.  It is our job to get people out of their homes and make them happy, educate them, and break them out of the funk they are in.

Talk to you soon,

 

Jim

 

 

 

Lessons From Disney

November 15, 2008

We all know that The Walt Disney Company has a lot of money to do things right. Yet many of their competitors are well capitalized and can’t even deal with trash properly (are you listening Mr. Shapiro).

My 11-year old daughter and I walked out of Disneyland / California Adventure after spending $290.89 ($12 for Parking + $188 for 2 “Park Hopper Tickets” + $63.89 for dinner @ Restaurant in Pirates Ride + $27 for water, pretzels, soda, etc) with big smiles on our faces. Why can Disney charge so much and still leave consumers feeling they got value for their money (ok, we went a little crazy eating at that restaurant, but you only live once and we actually were able to get in)? Here are some major points from the notes Gwen and I took this weekend. We will stick to stuff that everyone can afford to do in some way.

· WEBSITE – From Disney’s website we were able to buy tickets, plan our day, find out what rides were closed, what shows were new and when they were playing, and of course directions to the park.

· WELL MARKETED ROUTE – We all don’t have the political clout to get the kind of exits and signage that Disneyland has, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a well market route. Bonnaroo and ACL Festivals both do a good job with this.

· TRAINED PARKING STAFF – These people know how to park cars, campers, buses, limos, and even pumpkin coaches. If you can’t afford to hire pros to run your parking, study what Disney does and then create a manual.

· TRANSPORTATION FROM YOUR CAR OR HOTEL – At many arenas, stadiums, amphitheaters, etc, there is one hell of a hike from your car to the entrance to the facility. Disney not only provides transportation, they give you valuable information while you are traveling on their trams and monorails.

· EXTREMELY WELL TRAINED STAFF – If you need a map, “go to a custodial worker in an all white uniform”. Want to find a ride or attraction and don’t want to look at the map?  ANY employee can tell you the fastest way to get there. And with a smile on their face. Training and manuals are the keys to success…along with hiring the right people (but not as important as training and manuals no mater what anyone tells you).

· BRANDED LIVE ENTERTAINMENT – Disneyland and California Adventure sponsor/partners are built right into the show rather than looking like an afterthought. Everyone who drives a car on the “Autopia” ride gets an official drivers license from Chevron. Kodak has “Photo Shot” areas that are even marked out on the theme park’s maps.

· SIGNAGE & MAPS – Maybe repeating myself a little with well marked route, but this relates to ounce the consumer is at your event. If you have trouble finding something at a Disney park, you either can’t read or speak English or Spanish, or you don’t know to take advantage of their translation programs… or you don’t like asking for directions period.

· PLACES FOR PEOPLE TO SIT & EAT – You will sell more food and beverage if you give your guests a place to enjoy it…out of the sun, rain, wind… on a clean table. Disney knows this.

· FOOD & BEVERAGE VARIETY –Disney even goes the extra step of using the theme of the area (Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, etc) to design both the menus and architecture of their restaurants, stands, carts, etc.

· LINES ARE BAD – When lines start to form at the ticketing windows out front, they open more windows right away. If one line seems to be moving faster than another, there is a supervisor out in the slower line trying to find out why (clipboard in hand). When there are lines at popular rides, Disney warns you of the wait time, gives you an option to come back later with a “Fast Pass”, and tries to keep your mind occupied by designing an experience around the line should you decide to wait.

· PEOPLE TRAFFIC CONTROL – Boy do these guys know how to keep guests moving, change directions for parades and shows, etc. Training, training, training.

· CLEAN RESTROOMS / CLEAN EVERYTHING – Nothing else to say.

· KEEPING STUFF UP – It is amazing, but it is said that some things at Disney parks get a fresh coat of paint every night. Ever see how much “ABC gum” you find at a Six Flags Park? Yuk!!!

· LIGHTING MAKES THE SHOW – Whether day or night, Disney parks use lighting to help create an atmosphere. You should do the same.

· CROSS PROMOTION – Disney builds their movies, books, and TV shows into their theme park rides, shows, and attractions. Branding at its best.

I could go on forever, but the list above was most of our note highlights. Disney is certainly not perfect, but we can learn a lot from them.

As always, would love your opinions and comments.

Talk to you soon…

Jim

This Is A Bull Market!

October 28, 2008

We have all read of great military victories where outnumbered forces win over far superior armies.  The Battle of Guagamela where Alexander and a force of 50,000 (or less) beat back over 200,000 Persians or Julius Caesar’s victory at Alesia, where his Roman army of 30,000-60,000 defeated over 300,000 Gallic tribes.  You see these same kind of remarkable results every day on sports fields and conference rooms around the world.   Teams, athletes, businesses that should easily win on paper are beat by those with inferior resources, skills, size, etc.  They do it through the will to win (among other things).  This is the attitude we are taking through our current economic downturn and we suggest you do the same.  It may be ugly on Wall Street, but in the Entertainment and Branded Live Entertainment businesses, it is a Bull Market!!!

Going to work everyday worrying about the economy is not going to make it better.  In no way am I suggesting you forget about it, in fact just the opposite.  Look at the recession as an opportunity to serve fans, talent, partners, brands, etc.  Find new ways to reach and talk with your consumers…start a dialogue…build or re-build a community.  Put the audience first.  Here are some suggestions (some may be painful) on how to win in our Bull Market.

1) Spend more time working on fewer projects. With the number of shows, festivals, and attractions we are putting through our markets, there is no way to do a great job on all of them so it becomes a numbers game.  Stop that shit.  If you don’t believe…don’t have passion, let it go to your competitor or same it for another time.

2) Marketing is not buying ads and putting shows on-sale! There are event and entertainment marketing people out there from Feld to Disney, AEG to Live Nation, who would love the budgets, staff, and tools that their counterparts at companies like GM and Unilever have to work with.  Take on fewer shows and maybe those budgets and tools will exist.

3) Spend time with your team thinking about price points. Consumer value is the name of the game here.  How many times have you put together a small focus group even within your own office to talk about how much a ticket or hot dog should cost?

4) Leadership is key to winning! Whether the CEO of a big company or President of “Me Inc.” you need to lead by example.  Show the world you aren’t scared and have a plan to move everyone forward.

5) Now is not the time to cut staff or marketing budgets. They are both easy targets during hard times but ultimately could and will have negative effects on the long-term heath of your business.  Cutting staff is bad for morale both inside and outside the company.  As for marketing budgets, any business that either increased or kept their marketing spend level during the recession of the early ’90’s came out ahead of their competitors when things got good again.

6) Look at winners for inspiration. Target’s numbers are down, Wal-marts are up.  Follow the leader when developing and or marketing your next event.

Yes, you can read “The Secret”, pray, or call Mom and Dad for advice (I do all the time).   They all may work for you.   For me, I think about the fact that everyone needs an escape from their daily lives.  Live entertainment can bring that to them like no other medium.  It is something you share with those around you…a moment in time that can’t be captured.  The other day, win guru Gary Vaynerchuk passed on a big money speaking gig because it conflicted with a NY Jets home game.  When I asked him why, he said something like “he could always make that money back but could never take back those Jets snaps”.

This is a Bull Market!!!

Talk with you soon…

Jim