Subscription Telemarketing Planning for Performing Arts Organizations

According to Live Science, 77% of Americans who made resolutions on New Year’s Eve resolved to “improve the quality of their work life.” Helpguide.org advises that planning and organization can greatly reduce stress and improve results at work.

For many performing arts organizations, the start of the New Year means that it is time to announce and start selling the upcoming season. DCM Account Executive Angel Francis offers some tips and suggestions for how to plan and organize a successful telemarketing campaign while improving the quality of your work life.

Angel Francis

This article will cover:

  • Timing and Coordination
  • Selecting Lead Segments
  • Messaging

Timing and Coordination
When to call?

Timing and coordinating play key parts in a setting up a telemarketing campaign for success. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Renewals - Telemarketing calls should follow immediately after the direct mail renewal deadline but BEFORE you release patrons’ seats for general availability. This allows phone representatives to offer patrons “one last chance” to keep their seats. Urgency is always a helpful tool.

Acquisitions - Telemarketing calls should start 3-4 weeks after sending a brochure or season information to lapsed subscriber or single ticket buyer segments. This will give patrons adequate time to respond through the mail before calling begins.

Since the window of opportunity to sell the biggest packages at the highest prices exists at the start of your selling cycle, it is valuable to have as many selling channels as possible working together. As you get further along, your packages will become smaller and your average subscription sale price point may decrease significantly. You want to time the start of your telemarketing campaign to help sell the biggest packages. Timing and coordination will help you maximize the time before your season begins.

Selecting Lead Segments
Who to call?

As you are creating your telemarketing plan - mapping out, matching, and timing the best offers with the best target segments in your database is also crucial to its success. Determine how much of the overall marketing sales goal will be fulfilled by telemarketing and then consider what segments in your database need to be approached to meet your telemarketing numbers and if you have enough records in each segment to hit your goal. Based on your analysis and number of records you may have to adjust your revenue expectation, plans, and/or offers. It is important to have realistic, attainable goals based on the make-up of your database.

It is very easy to get stuck in a rut of calling the same lead segments year after year with little thought as to whether those segments are helping your organization achieve its goals. Rethink your lead segments calling strategy, and question whether calling those segments in the same way will help your organization achieve its goals. An important step in evaluating lead segments is calculating the cost per dollar to call each segment. You can do so by using a simple mathematical equation for each segment:

In-house campaign (# of contacts ÷ average contacts per hour * average hourly caller pay) ÷ (subscription revenue generated)

Vendor campaign [(# of contacts ÷ Avg contacts/hour * Calling hour fee) + (Subscription rev generated * Commission rate) ÷ (Subscription rev generated)]

NOTE: The vendor campaign formula can be modified to accommodate campaigns with no calling hour fee or no commission fees. Simply remove one or the other, depending on your fee structure.

After you have calculated the cost per dollar of each segment, you will probably notice that, while some segments are relatively inexpensive to call, some may cost more than a dollar to generate a dollar. This is usually caused by a low participation rate and is most often seen in older lead segments and segments that have relatively little affiliation with your organization. Use that information to decide whether it is a priority for your organization to call each lead segment. If you have the money to invest, the more expensive lead segments this year will renew at a much less expensive rate in future years. If you are working to net as much money as possible this year, you may want to reconsider calling the more expensive lead segments.

Think outside the box when segmenting leads. For example, instead of calling all single ticket buyers for a particular season, you may only want to call patrons who purchased single tickets to multiple performances. You may also want to group patrons who purchased single tickets to one performance, but did so over several seasons. This will help you focus on the records with the highest probability of purchase.

It’s worthwhile to take a step back from routine, carefully evaluate what your organization has traditionally done, and decide if there is a need for change.

Messaging
What to say?

Customizing the message - One of the greatest benefits of a telemarketing call is the ability to customize the message for each patron. Conversations that occur with patrons via telemarketing should reflect the tone and information present in all other marketing efforts. If your organization is highlighting a new work or a guest artist, this information is most certainly reflected in your direct mail, and should be reinforced by telemarketing as often as possible. Telemarketing is also effective to offer incentives or special pricing that appeared in direct mail pieces, even if the deadline has passed. This gives callers an additional tool to close the sale, and patrons feel as if they are receiving exclusive privileges. Patrons will often mention having received special offers by email, and callers should be prepared to respond. These measures will help ensure that all of your efforts are communicated in the same voice and delivered with a consistent message to your patrons.

Communicating a sense of urgency - In general, telemarketing can communicate reasons to take action now to patrons who might otherwise wait until the last minute to purchase subscriptions. If losing access to the best seating does not persuade patrons to commit so far in advance of the upcoming season, offering an attendance incentive for the current season can tide them over until their subscription begins.

Creating a successful telemarketing campaign can be as easy as answering the questions of when to call, who to call, and what to say. Like any other element of your overall marketing plan, telemarketing should not exist in a vacuum and is most effective when integrated with all other marketing efforts. And be sure to check-in with DCM to help orchestrate your subscription campaign. We are always just a phone call away.

Here’s to a low-stress, high-success campaign!

To learn more about DCM and our services please visit www.dcmtm.com or contact DCM’s Vice President of New Business and Marketing, Eric Nelson, at enelson@dcmtm.com or 718-488-5577 x5017.