This blog is a recap of our webinar, hosted live on Wednesday, May 18th by TicketForce CEO Lynne King Smith. To view a recording of the webinar, click here.

What is CRM?

CRM is Customer Relationship Management: an approach to managing a company’s interaction with current and future customers. The CRM approach tries to analyze data about a customer’s history, in order to better improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on retaining customers, in order to drive sales growth.

CRM platforms come in all shapes and sizes, and can vary in price, from costly to free memberships.

Does my organization need a CRM? What place does a CRM have in the entertainment industry?

That’s the question of the day – and why after many conversations with entertainment and arts folks across many markets, I’ve come to the conclusion that for many, the question of using a CRM or not has become a conundrum.

To start off, ask yourself these four questions to decide if your organization could benefit from using a CRM:

  1. What are you looking for in a CRM? What are your goals and motivation for using one?
  2. Who in your organization will be managing the system, from set-up, monitoring, and analyzing patron data?
  3. What are other organizations of your size doing?
  4. What data do you need to help you sell more tickets and increase donations?

Analyze your needs

Knowing what you need and your end goals is a critical step in any software decision. For many entertainment venues, your needs might start off with the base goal of selling more tickets or increasing donations. How can CRM or other software help you to do that?

Write down your end goals as you see them now. This may be as simple as storing your data in a single location, hopefully the cloud, or tracking interactions or scheduling your contacts.
If you have no needs that include scheduling calls, or tracking interactions – here’s the heads up – you may not need a sales-based CRM. But stay with me – there’s more to come for you.

Next, to determine size and scope of what you need, consider your team. How many employees or volunteers do you have making reaches to your constituents? For instance, a mid-size arts venue may have 1 or 2 people contacting 100 large donors. But a large sports team may have a team of 20 sales people doing outbound calls for 1000 season ticket holders. Consider both the number of users who will be accessing the data and the number of constituents you are personally reaching out to.

Finally, consider what data you need. What fields do you need and use (versus buying habits) will help you to increase ticket sales and donations? If you need fields that are not collected during a ticket sale or donation – such as a birthday, gender, age, etc – ask yourself – how will I collect this? What system will I store it in? And how will I use it to increase my engagement with the patron?

Always end every goal with asking yourself: How will this help me sell more tickets or increase donations? In the end – that’s our goal. There are many tools available to you that may never help you increase your sales – bring every goal your team comes up with back to this.

The right personnel

No matter if your Needs Analysis results in a clear need for a CRM, automated marketing systems, a small database, or an excel sheet – data is only as good as the management you put into it. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.

Owner – this person will “own” your database – they will ensure entry is done consistently across employees, volunteers and teams. Every piece of software utilized must have an owner to ensure consistency.

IT – depending on whether you will use a cloud-based (no reason not to) or a server-based system or software, you’ll want to involve someone on IT to ensure the security, backup, and user administration of the software.

Configuration – any CRM is going to require set up and configuration. The more it can do – the more you should be concerned about this very big element. CRM’s simply do not configure themselves to your needs. Everything from data fields, reports, types of contacts, and dashboards will need to be set up by someone in order to make it work for you. You’ll need to either allocate someone on your team with advanced computer skills to do this – or pay someone to do it (if available from the CRM provider).

Data Migration – what data will you be bringing into the new system from a current system or systems? Who will determine what needs to be imported? Who will sort and configure the current data to prepare it for import? Some CRM providers may offer data import services – usually at a fee – but always with the requirement for a good data file that is ready to go.

Training – what is the training needed? Who will do the training? Many offer video training, online training, or packages for paid training. Again – most CRM’s have extensive capabilities – and learning to use them to their full extent is the challenge. Consider who on your team will manage the training process, communicate with the provider, and ensure that team members are adequately trained.  

Simply put – if you don’t have the resources within your own team to manage these 4 areas, you may need to reconsider your needs versus your resources.

CRM for Arts and Entertainment

I’ve found that in the entertainment and arts space, most people are looking to CRM’s to do one of 2 things:

  1. Help them schedule calls and contacts to season ticket holders or high donors. Is this one of your key needs? Go back again to the number of agents you have making outbound calls and follow ups. If 5 or more, a CRM may help you track contacts. Less than this – and your team can use either a free or much less robust system.
  2. Store additional information about patrons – with the goal of selling more tickets or increasing donations. This is where it really gets interesting. The key questions here are – where will you get the information not collected on a ticket sale or basic donation? And more importantly – how will you utilize this information? If you cannot answer these questions then a CRM will likely put you into more of a conundrum than help you reach your goals.

The bottom line is this – outside of large sports teams and large arts venues – CRM’s in entertainment venues have yielded little real results. Without the resources and clear achievable goals for its success – many are left frustrated and wondering what went wrong.

But there’s good news – there are many new data tools we can use to target our marketing to the right patrons. The digitalization of marketing over the past 5 years has brought us appending services, targeted digital ads, and more ways than ever to tap into the gold mine of data our patrons are willingly putting out there through their web browsing, searching, and social media profiles.

So if you’re looking to track and target the buying habits of your patrons and reach new buyers – that’s good news for you. And the subject of another webinar! Stay tuned…