Jennifer Sowinski
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Grow arts and culture revenue

Ask Me Anything: Flexible Subscription Pricing

Ask Me Anything Question

"We offer both traditional fixed subscriptions and choose-your-own subscriptions. Should traditional subscribers get a better discount, or should the discount for both subscriptions be the same?"

Jennifer Sowinski’s Answer

Flexible subscriptions are certainly gaining popularity, and many of us marketers see them as a great compromise between single ticket sales and traditional subscriptions. By that logic, it makes sense that the price for flexible subscriptions would also fall somewhere in the middle, between full price single tickets and the full-season subscriber discount.

This logic holds if (and only if) a fixed subscription contains more performances than a flexible one. If a fixed subscription means that someone is purchasing tickets for 6 performances, but a flexible subscriber is only purchasing 4, then by all means, a volume discount for a fixed subscription is just fine. But, if the flexible subscription is also for 6 shows, that’s another story.

Imagine that I’m someone who is interested in a flexible subscription because I’m busy, and want to choose my own dates. Regardless of the price, I’m probably not going to buy a fixed subscription, because committing to dates and shows chosen by someone else just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m looking through the brochure, choosing my six performances, excited about my 10% discount, because I’ve decided to subscribe! Then I notice on the order form that those who purchase a pre-determined package of 6 shows get a 20% discount, and suddenly, it feels like I’m getting a bad deal.

We don’t ever want our subscribers to feel like they’re getting a bad deal. Some marketers may argue that by offering a better discount, we’re encouraging the behavior that we want to see—in this case, purchasing a fixed subscription. But, as we’ve mentioned in the past (see Timmy’s post on Smaller Subscription Packages), patrons who purchase fixed and flexible subscriptions rarely migrate between the two—they’re interested in either one or the other.

Rather than creating a subscription hierarchy of discounts based on behavior you’ve deemed ideal, embrace every subscriber! By purchasing any kind of subscription, patrons are displaying their support, trust, loyalty to your organization, which is a great thing.

Do you have a question for the team at JCA Arts Marketing? Submit it here. It could be featured in an upcoming Ask Me Anything post.

JCA Arts Marketing collaborates with cultural organizations to increase revenue, boost attendance and membership, and grow patron loyalty. We provide consulting and software services to hundreds of cultural institutions across multiple genres, including dance, museums, opera, performing arts centers, symphony, and theatre. We can help you achieve your marketing goals.

Jennifer Sowinski, Consultant, JCA Arts Marketing

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