Timmy Metzner
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Grow arts and culture revenue

Ask Me Anything: Smaller Subscription Packages

Ask Me Anything Question

We think that some of our patrons would be interested in a smaller subscription package with fewer shows; however, we are concerned small packages would cannibalize sales of the larger subscription packages. Do you have any suggestions?

Timmy's Answer

First off, let us commend you for trying to think through different ways a patron could show loyalty to your organization. Far too often we see organizations decide only subscribers are loyal and single ticket buyers (STBs) are fickle. This isn’t the case; many people have barriers (schedule, price, etc.) to committing in the way you’d prefer. That’s why we certainly suggest creating different models that allow for a patron to select into loyalty behavior that fits their needs.

We also run into this worry about full season packages holders suddenly wanting to downgrade. The truth is, that’s an irrational fear. Just as you’re creating a smaller package for patrons to exhibit loyalty on a smaller scale, your current subscribers have self-selected into a larger package and feel comfortable committing at that level. It’s dangerous to assume your most avid fans will suddenly want to attend less, just because you’re offering something different to a different group of patrons.

The data backs this up too. Over the dozens of clients we’ve analyzed, full season subscribers are much more likely to lapse entirely than to downgrade into less frequent attendances. In fact, if we look across genres and sizes of organizations, only 2% of full season subscription holders switch into a smaller packing the following year. And, genuinely, the highest we’ve ever seen it was 5%. These numbers should hopefully give you confidence that your subscribers like and prefer the behavior they’re already exhibiting and won’t flock to something different. 

We’d also suggest that as you introduce this package, make sure you’re communicating it heavily to multi-single ticket buyers who’ve been attending your organization for a while. This is the prime group of people to pilot something new. They’ve been engaging with you, somewhat frequently, and are primed to go on a new journey with you.

Best of luck as you launch these packages. Just keep in mind that you aren’t creating an easy way to downgrade a certain cohort of patrons—you’re offering a new way to upgrade different ones.

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.