Posts Tagged ‘Pre-sales’

POSITIVE THINKING

March 17, 2011

WARNING, THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST PERSONAL LIVEWORKS NEWSLETTER I’VE EVER WRITTEN.  READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED

Lately it seems that I’ve been identifying myself more by the last two-years of temporary defeats with my food festival, rather than the 20-plus years of building successful events.  After living life with the motto “failure is not an option” I’ve let the loss of money and reputation dictate who I am and how I’ve acted.  With the economy being what it is and the number of books and articles written on the subject, there are probably others out there in a similar circumstance that could learn from my experiences. 

Look at any successful person in life, no matter how you measure success, and you will most likely find confidence.  The fact is that there is almost nothing we can control in life.  Certainly what’s occurred in Haiti, New Zealand, and now Japan proves that.  The only things we really do have control of are our thoughts…and depending on the way we are wired, these thoughts can lead to success or failure.  The key is to not stop thinking…and thinking positively

Having a motive other than money is another important factor to success.  In my case, 2009’s trial run of the food festival concept was just that.  Never in our wildest dreams did we expect to make money and draw the crowds we did.  The idea was simply proof of concept and to make sure everyone (guest, talent, restaurants, promoter, staff, and press) had a good time.  With just a few technical glitches involving our cashless payment system and lack of staff as the doors opened, the first few hours of the show failed to fulfill either goal as lines grew to “amusement park size”.  Moving forward, we could fix the operational issues.  Success was within grasp.

The money was an all together different story.  We refunded everyone’s money in 2009.  In fact it was the first time I ever put significant personal money into a project and after seven-figure losses, had no idea how to support my family.  Not only was our savings wiped out, we had no real income to speak of.  Without loans from family and friends we would have never made it.  Lesson learned… having family and friends that care about you can change your life.  Cherish what’s important. 

Moving into 2010, there was only one goal on my mind; to make the food festival successful….which to me meant making money.  After a falling out with our previous partners, we went to what we considered a logical place to hold our events, football stadiums.  They had the perfect lists to market to (season ticket holders) and plenty of room for us to setup.  Unfortunately although we did factor weather in…it wasn’t not enough…and our marketing partners that had done such a wonderful job on our show in 2009 didn’t exist in 2010 (radio, print, online, clubs, etc).  Price also became a concern.  In 2009, we had ancillary charges built into our ticket price…and they totaled only $10.  This would not be the case with 2010.  As the shows came closer to playing, our pre-sales were not picking up as they had in 2009.  In hindsight, we should have cancelled the shows…but we were broke and thinking of money. Somehow we would be able to fix what’s broken and wrap strong.   

We didn’t wrap strong.  In fact without going into too much detail, we ended-up losing even more money.  The food fest owes more money than it ever grossed.  In my mind, I felt like a loser…and that has been the image I’ve been projecting ever since.  All the years of the Aspen Conference, HORDE Festival, MTV Campus Invasion, Woodstock, Jeep Tour, our cruises, etc…meant nothing.  If my 13-year old said I was a loser, I was a loser. 

Then something weird happened.  Investors started getting interested in the food fest idea.  Actually, the fact that we were two-time losers…wanted to pay all our debts…and wanted to try again…all worked to our favor (who knew???).  Although the number of people we drew in 2010 was soft, our food and beverage numbers were record-breaking.  If we could put the numbers from 2009 together with per caps from 2010, we have one strong show.  All of a sudden we were thinking creatively again. 

For one thing, I never wanted to look at bankruptcy as an option.  We owe money and I would rather raise the money, pay everyone back and move forward than walk away from those that trusted us…that trusted me.  Again to my surprise, this had also worked to the fest’s favor.  You see, one of the things investors like besides making money is doing business with people who have shown integrity through their careers.  They were happy we wanted to pay our debts versus declaring bankruptcy.  Gee, maybe I should have lost more money (just kidding of course).

The last two years have been the worst of my life.  Getting sick, death of family and friends, nothing has had the collateral and emotional damage that losing everything and letting people down has had.  Yet the moment I started thinking…positively… things began to change.  I went back to the computer to make sense of the numbers…combed through every note from every meeting…every email…and all our post-mortem meetings. This could be fixed.

As of today we are holding dates in multiple cities for an even better food fest concept and will have a few new partners (investors, promoters and brands) to help us along the way.  We aren’t there yet but we sure are getting close. 

There will be a new food fest in 2011…along with more cruises, festivals, and the biggest Aspen Conference in our history this December.  All this change with a simple attitude adjustment… and positive thoughts… of something other than money. 

I would like to thank all the family and friends that believed and continue to believe.  I would like to thank our staff, vendors and talent.  I would like to thank my heroes Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Bill Graham and PT Barnum for continuing to show me the right road.  I would like to thank all of those authors that have written books and articles that have influenced my thinking.  And I would like to thank you for reading the LiveWorks Newsletter.

Keep Thinking…Positive Thoughts!

Best,

 Jim

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BURGER KING ADS

April 21, 2010

It is hard to write if you have nothing to say.  That’s why it has been so long since the last LiveWorks Newsletter. 

Today I was again reminded of creative and memorable advertising that we could easily create in Live and Branded Live Entertainment but somehow seem to always fall short.  Well if imitation really is the greatest form of flattery, why not just steal others ideas?

“It’s not that original but it’s super affordable…” is the line at the end of the new Burger King TV commercial for its sausage breakfast sandwich that’s a dead ringer for McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin.  In fact, the ad shows Bk’s character, “The King” breaking into McDonald’s headquarters and stealing the secret recipe for the mega-brand’s Sausage McMuffin with Egg.  Funny, smart, daring.

Will these spots end up selling more breakfast sandwiches for Burger King?  I’m betting yes.  Why, because the marketing message is extremely clear and simple.  We have exactly what they have, for less.  Most fast food consumers are also aware that Burger King’s are usually not as busy as McDonald’s restaurants so if the drive-thru looks crowded @ Mickie D’s, you just go down a few restaurants on fast food row to BK and try their new sausage sandwich. 

Now cut to one of our spots.  Are we selling American Express, the acts new record, Coors Light, one of three pre-sales, or tickets to the show?  Hopefully, none of the above.  If you aren’t creating an experience for your consumers, you will continue to get beat by companies out entertaining the entertainment business.  My friend Mike from Yes Dear Entertainment sent me an article stating that Apple is thinking about entering the ticketing business.  Hopefully they will create an iPod type device or some kind of tech gadget that holds paperless tickets, photos you can take and email to your friends of you at the show and other entertainment apps…just to continue to show us how to do our jobs and improve the guest experience. 

Just look at products like Flip Video.  This is the future and we are somehow missing it.  There are young people ready to change our business and we aren’t embracing them.   Entrepreneurs like Alex White from Next Big SoundBrent Smith from WME was talking with me about him today…about what his company is compiling and how that data is a gold mine for predicting future consumer spending, etc.  Plug in!

I’m more hopeful than ever that we can make a difference.  Of course it starts with a product…but for our shows out this spring and summer, let’s makes sure we spread the right message.  It is about the experience our guests will have if they come to our shows!  It isn’t the new single no one has heard, the sponsor no one cares about, or the promoter of the show… how long you’ve been in business, or anything else.  What’s the show, and how is your guest going to have a great time.  That’s your message!  Go spread the word!

Look forward to hearing from all of you as usual!  It is great to see our subscription list grow so much even when I’m not writing.

Thank you for reading and writing back!

Jim

PURCHASE DECISION TIME

February 7, 2010

It isn’t just the economy…or marketing clutter…or technology…or number of entertainment options…or price, that has reduced the time consumers take to make purchase decisions, it is all of the above.  This should weigh heavily in your mind as you are drawing up marketing plans for 2010. 

PRINT

Not dead…well certainly not for music anyway.  Fans still go to their local weekly publications for news about what’s happening around town.  The key is to change your messaging if it isn’t working.  Dailies have a place in the world too, but not for your advertising.  For those managers still making promoters buy full-page break-ads in the NY Times, please stop.  Monthlies, their deadlines are too far out for most of us.  How do you know what your messaging should and will be in 3-months?  

Social Media

You need to really commit yourself to this.  No sticking your toe in the water.  There needs to be a fulltime voice or voices online.  You can’t go half-ass or fans will either take over the conversation or you will end up talking to yourself.  If all of your social media efforts are self-serving, you will fail.

TV

If you are going to use television, start producing content the public will take notice of.  Remember what you are competing with. 

SEARCH

Search marketing such as Google and Yahoo! can be very effective.  Just don’t buy-in to your marketer’s claims of 300% ROIA click isn’t a purchase.  Measure appropriately. 

RADIO

Again, don’t listen to those holding the crystal balls.  In 2010, radio is still a very effective way to reach a targeted audience.  The problem is our radio spots are too cluttered.  With all the sponsors, pre-sale info, new album info, promoter info, “concert series” info, and website addresses, most of the time the message we want to send isn’t getting through.  Test for yourself.  Listen to a radio spot from a national advertiser and then one of ours…on the radio.  It will make you laugh. 

PUBLIC RELATIONS

PR is a lost art.  What happened to publicity stunts?  When did our talent get so precious that they can’t speak with journalists anymore?  If you can find a good publicist… like I did with Giant Noise, you should hang-on for dear life. 

YOUR WEBSITE

Keep it simple and easy to navigate.  Make sure you have as much information as possible on your site, as well as a place for visitors to contact you.  If guests don’t have a way to purchase tickets on your website, kill yourself. 

MAILING LISTS

Whether online or not…NO SPAMMING!  You must get permission to talk to someone.  No permission, stay away.

PRICING

This doesn’t always mean going lower.  As many promoters found over the past several years, the same ticket that wasn’t selling at a P2 price will sell at a P1 price.  At the same time, rewarding fans for purchasing early versus late would help.  By discounting tickets as you get closer to the show, you are training your customers to wait even longer than they already are to buy.  Flip the model.  Why not make tickets more expensive each day?  That would certainly get some attention if nothing else.

LOYALTY PROGRAMS

We haven’t really been able to get this right since the Columbia Records Club, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying.  Take a look at what Harrah’s has done.  Hell, Amex makes you pay to be in their loyalty program if you think about it….and the same with many artists’ fan clubs.  The key is to know your customers.  What do they see as a value?  If you are doing some of the other things right, you will know.

OVER-DELIVER

Instead of looking for ways to cut your budget this year, search for places to over-deliver for guests at every touch-point possible.  As marketing guru Seth Godin recently wrote, “Radically overdeliver. Turns out that this is a cheap and effective marketing technique”. 

MAKE YOUR MESSAGE TIMELY

Anyone who has followed how automaker Hyundai and its sister Kia have used the economy in their messaging to sell hundreds of thousands of cars in the U.S. will understand this point.  Because Hyundai could move so quickly, they were able to roll-out their “Hyundai Assurance” program.  Perfect messaging that resonated with consumers. 

A PLAN IS NOT A GRID

A grid showing where and when you are buying adverting isn’t a marketing plan.  You must understand that each show is different.  That every act is a brand…so is every venue, promoter, and producer.  Measure your results. See what’s working and what’s not.  Although you do have a plan in place, it doesn’t mean it can’t be amended. 

Keep Trying…

Jim