Chris Fabiszak
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Grow arts and culture revenue

Ask Me Anything: Discount Types

Ask Me Anything Question

Which discount strategy works better—flat percentage discounts or buy one get one free (BOGO) offers?

Chris's Answer

There are so many different ways to offer a discount on tickets, but the most important factor to keep in mind is that the discount has to work for your organization. Ensure that you’re filling performances and sections that need help, rather than offering blanket discounts. But to answer your specific question about what’s more effective, let’s examine a few psychological factors that come into play.

According to The Economist, “people are useless at fractions.” Our culture, sadly, is a largely innumerate one. Percentages are essentially fractions and thus are not quick math that can be done in the head. They require effort to understand the savings that applied. Dollar off amounts require math, but subtraction is easier to manage without putting pen to paper. So while 15% and $20 off a $75 ticket are both $55, a potential patron will have a much easier time understanding the latter offer.

Interestingly, in our work what we’ve found to be most successful is listing the discount price and calling out what the savings amount is. For example:

$55 Seats (Savings of $15)!

This is a clear message of exactly how much someone will pay and how much they will save. Deal sites like Living Social, Goldstar, and even Today Tix employ this method and always show the price paid and reference the original price (slashed through) or the amount saved.

It’s also worth exploring the psychology behind the words “get” and “save.” “Get” implies a person is achieving something; there is a net gain. “Save” suggests avoiding a loss. We would suggest doing some testing to see which messaging is most effective with your patrons.

The way you discount will communicate to your patrons the value of the offer. Think about the message you want to send, how simple it can be, and how effective it will be in helping you reach your income or attendance goals.

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.

Chris Fabiszak, Consultant

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