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Jennifer Sowinski
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Grow arts and culture revenue

Ask Me Anything: Nudges


Ask Me Anything Question

"We have a tight budget, especially as the end of the year approaches.  Are there any key, inexpensive things we can do to try to increase our revenue?"

Jennifer Sowinski’s Answer

Ah, what you’re describing actually has a name in behavioral economics—it’s called a nudge!  We actually talked about this in one of our very first AMAs, but it’s definitely worth revisiting.  A nudge, by definition, is something small and inexpensive that you can do to influence your customers’ behavior.  In retail, the most classic example is placing products that the store wants you to purchase at eye level, or on a special endcap.  It doesn’t cost the store very much to move products around, but it can have a huge impact on what its customers choose to purchase.

In the arts, nudging might come in the form of how you guide patrons through the web purchase, or what kind of questions your box office staff asks.  Imagine if, instead of your box office asking a caller “where would you like to sit?” they instead led with “our best seats available are X, would you like to go with those?”  By immediately suggesting the best (also higher priced) seats, you are removing that initial choice, and encouraging the behavior you would like to see.

On your website, are there things you can do to make a particular choice more appealing, such as putting a box around the best seats available on your seat map, or making a certain price section stand out by highlighting it green?

Another example that many businesses employ to nudge their customers towards a certain choice is decoy pricing.  The idea behind decoy pricing is to offer one option at an exorbitantly high price (that you don’t really intend to sell), in order to make the second highest price look like a great deal.  In the arts, this is usually accomplished through a small section of very premium seats.

There are many ways you can nudge your customers towards the behavior you want, and getting a little creative can have a big impact on your revenue!


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