Today, a person can order dinner, find virtually any movie they desire, and watch it immediately without leaving their couch. We no longer have to wait for anything! In our binge-watching, Uber-calling, same-day-free-delivery culture, asking people to pay for something now and see it in a year is more than just a hard sell, it borders on absurd. Tearing through an on-demand TV series is so much easier than keeping track of a subscription package where performances spread over nine months are constantly bumping up against ever-changing life events. With lives full of options, audiences delay decisions until the moment they desire them. Your competition is a swipe-right away.
Resist the urge to grieve, because there are plenty of opportunities here. First, accept a new definition of “subscription.” Innovative organizations have malleable offerings including memberships, flex passes and mini-packages. Newer models help capitalize on different behavior. Try appreciating and accepting the multi-buyer, who has most likely been given every opportunity to subscribe, but doesn’t want to—probably for many of the reasons outlined above. Instead of offering and re-offering them something they don’t want, focus on increasing multi-buyer loyalty through programs and incentives that appeal to that behavior.
Creative payment plans have also removed barriers by allowing subscribers to pay on a schedule or as they go. Thinking outside the box like this requires effort. The process to renew someone into the same seats for every production and take a payment in full is easy; it’s much harder to administer an inventive solution. Because of the time and energy needed, and an organizational hierarchy of preferred behavior, these non-traditional options are often seen as lower tier and are rarely given the same marketing effort—but they should be a top priority.
Rather than focusing on whether or not subscriptions are dead, use your time to identify how your audience wants to attend, commit, participate and engage. Create multiple attendance opportunities around maximizing that behavior. Make it clear, communicate the value, radically reshape your own definition of “subscriber,” and you’ll no longer be planning a funeral service.
Contact JCA Arts Marketing to learn more about innovative pricing strategies.