• William Arnett

In the world of theatre management you’ve got a lot on your plate. Between working to secure donations, marketing current productions, applying for grants, selling tickets and more, it’s nearly inevitable to get caught up in the daily grind, trying the same approach to recurrent problems, and making do with mediocre results. With a full schedule, who has the time or headspace to step back and think about the bigger picture? Today we’re going to take a moment to pull away from the daily minutia and examine the way the system you have in place could function. The good news is, we’ve got both the question you should be asking, and the answer to that question that’s going to simplify your to-do list, clarify your targets, and maximize your revenue.

The question is this:

How can I help my theatre run more efficiently?

The answer?

Hire a CRM.

Maybe you’ve seen the acronym on business websites and as an addition to theatre software, but what exactly is a CRM and what can it do for you?

CRM stands for Consumer Relationship Manager. It’s a software database that, as the name implies, manages relationships with your customers. It does this is by combining ticketing, fundraising, and marketing under one roof. The system then retains the data on all your transactions, offering you valuable insights into the minds and wallets of your patrons, donors and clientele. The right CRM simplifies your life, and it does so in the following ways.

Does your theatre sell tickets? Have a gift shop? Sell concessions? Do you accept donations? At many theatres, a patron interacts with a different payment software for each. A CRM helps unite these under one system, so you can quickly and clearly see what your patrons are purchasing and how they are donating.

When a patron buys a ticket to one of your shows, they have initiated a relationship with you. The next step is to keep in touch with them, encouraging them to return. This can be through a phone call, email, snail mail, targeted facebook ads, or a variety of more creative marketing methods. Whatever your preferred method, the first thing you need is a way to get in touch. A CRM will store that information away for safekeeping, as well as take note of what tickets they’ve purchased as your patrons continue to attend your theatre.

Any marketer will tell you that there is no such thing as a “general audience.” And a CRM database is the perfect way to segment those who are already attending into managable sections. Patrons respond to messages that are tailored to their interests. Do you want to see your patrons who haven’t attended a performance in 3 years? A CRM can make a detailed and concise list of their email address so you can send a limited time offer discount code. Want to fill every seat for your latest production of Oklahoma? A CRM can generate a list of everyone who attended Singin’ in the Rain 6 years ago in a matter of moments. Wondering if you will get the audience you need to do Othello? Quickly access a list of all the attendees from every Shakespeare production performed at your theatre. This provides you with an idea of how many may attend while simultaneously generating a contact list for advertisements.

Your fundraising team is hard at work seeking out new donors, but there are likely several hidden in your database. A CRM can help you identify patrons who frequently attend, or who have donated in the past, but perhaps not recently. A CRM used to its full potential tracks donations and ticket sales, which translates into the insights you need to turn your patrons into donors. This is what we call “The Donor Path.”

Communication is the key to organizational success. Making sure patrons get a clear, consistent message is foundational to the success of any of your theatre’s endeavors. From Education, to Fundraising, to Marketing, to Box Office--the departments of your theatre need to talk to each other. Are you hosting a class? Your CRM can help you identify parents of school-aged students to market to, but also provide an easy and efficient way to inform your donors that their contributions are going to good use. The knowledge that funds are making a difference is one reason donors keep on giving. With a CRM, opportunities for efficiency are presented at every turn, saving you valuable time, energy, head space, and man power.

Today’s theatre market demands that you be strategic with your efforts. Your time is valuable. Spend it with a Consumer Relationship Manager that maximizes your efforts with consolidated systems, unique insights, and efficient communication.

Click here for information about Theatrisoft and our services.

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