Monday, March 19, 2007

Obstacles increase drama, but kill sales

Back when I was in college, I had to take two years of directing class because I was a theatre education major, and it was well known as a theatre teacher that you would have to direct at least one play a year. I had a professor in my second year that said to heighten the drama, a director needed to increase obstacles which would increase the level of conflict. This approach might work in directing, but the exact opposite is true in sales.

I was invited to speak at a graduate arts management class at George Mason University. One of the things I discussed was the concept of eliminating obstacles. It is very important to get feedback from your prospects, because they will tell you all the potential obstacles in their way. Your job as a marketing professional is to eliminate those obstacles. Make the purchasing process the easiest thing in the world. Take every credit card (unless you get killed in processing charges). Have an online box office so that the insomniacs can order tickets at 2am. Consider offering subscribers a payment plan so that they can make several smaller payments instead of one major one.

When looking at obstacles, remember that perception is reality. For example, when I was working at Virginia Stage Company (VSC), there was a perception that parking in downtown Norfolk was really difficult. Nothing could be further from the truth. The city has over 20 public parking garages and there was a huge mall right across the street that offered parking for $2. Our patrons were remembering a time almost ten years prior when downtown Norfolk wasn't a thriving arts district. However, we had to address their perceptions, so still to this day, VSC operates a very busy valet service.

All things being equal, the company that goes out of its way to eliminate obstacles will fare much better than one who ignores them. If I have to get in my car and deliver your tickets to sell a subscription, then so be it...

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