6 Steps to Implement a New Loyalty Program

Jamie Alexander

Director, JCA Arts Marketing

Jamie helps cultural organizations understand the behaviors of their audiences and create data-driven strategies to continually engage them.
October 12, 2023

You’ve done your research, listened to your community, and decided on a new membership or subscription model for your organization. Maybe you’re going to introduce a new Flex Membership model (like the Steppenwolf’s Black Card), or an all-access monthly membership like the (ZACH Theatre’s ZACH XP), or maybe you’re introducing a Choose Your Own (CYO) subscription program.  

Now comes time for the hard part—implementation. You’re bringing a new product to market, and in doing so you want to make sure that you’re setting your organization up for success.  

1. Determine your goals 

Any project should start with a thorough understanding of your goals and objectives. What larger organizational goal does this loyalty program serve? How will you know if the program is serving that goal?  

Having clear goals, and clear benchmarks in place to measure progress, will allow you to conduct an objective assessment of your new program—and adjust course as needed.  

Some examples of goals: Increase overall paid capacity sold at performances by 5%; Increase average annual frequency by .5; Increase ticket sales at a certain genre of performances by 1000; Increase engagement with free artistic programs by 10%; Increase attendance at preview performances by 15%.  

2. Detail your plan & project management method 

Your implementation plan should include a clear timeline of all the tasks that need to be completed to implement your membership—from systems set-up, to marketing, and collection of feedback. The plan needs to clearly outline WHO is responsible for each task, as well as identify a project lead. The project lead is the person who will be responsible for managing the team to ensure that everything happens on time and with quality.  

Include check-points along the way. These are especially important because they allow designated times where you team can review and adjust the plan depending on reality. Familiar with Agile project management? It might be good to introduce Agile principles here. We also recommend a project management tool—our favorite is AirTable.   

3. Set up your internal processes & systems 

Appoint someone on your team (or an outside resource) to be a Business Analyst, who can chart all the processes that will go into the management and implementation of your new loyalty program. How will they be sold? How will people get their tickets? How will people renew their membership? How will they redeem membership benefits?  

Once processes are defined, you’ll need to build those processes within your ticketing system, website, email platform, and more. In your plan (step 2), allow plenty of time for testing and revisions.  

If you’re a Tessitura organization, we’re happy to help you identify the best way to set up the new membership in Tessitura & automate member emails in your email systems.  

4. Build buzz 

Make sure that people are excited about the release of your new membership program, before the official launch. This starts with people inside the organization. Everyone who interacts with patrons—from front-of-house-staff to box office to marketing to development and beyond—should be aware of the new program and excited for its release.  

Then, find some champions in your audience who can be both your ambassadors and your sounding boards. Get feedback from them on your plans and empower them to become super members and encourage their connections to also become members.  

Where else can you tease the news to get people excited? Make this part of your marketing campaign.  

5. Execute your campaign 

Now, it’s go time. Time to make the membership available for sale and execute your marketing campaign. Your marketing campaign (planned in Step 2) should clearly lay out who your target audience is, what benefit they will receive from the membership, how you will reach them, with what message, and when. Also consider your membership’s position: how is it different from other loyalty programs? Remember, if this isn’t a traditional subscription—it shouldn’t have a traditional subscription marketing campaign. Think outside the box.  

 6. Optimize  

Part of your goal-setting and planning stages (Steps 1 & 2) should consist of what metrics you’ll be referencing on a regular basis to assess success. They should include a combination of direct audience feedback with behavioral and financial metrics you can derive from your systems. Use this information to tweak your membership. Lean into what’s working, and change what isn’t in order to reach your goals. Don’t get too attached to any aspect of the membership—be unbiased and open to making changes.  

We’re here to help with all aspects of loyalty program implementation 

If you need support, guidance, or just an extra helping hand—we’ve got your back at JCA. We can help you with project management, Tessitura set-up, marketing strategy, and sales & audience analysis to ensure that your membership or subscription reaches your organizational goals. Set-up a time to talk with us, and we’ll find a bespoke JCA consulting solution that will help you launch the best membership possible.  

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