Subscription sales are at the core of a successful theatre. Subscribers, also called members, are guests who purchase tickets for the whole season in advance. This group comes with all kinds of benefits – loyalty, feedback, and marketing, just to name a few (here are even more reasons, if you still have questions!). Theatre subscribers should be treated with priority because they are committing to your entire season of productions, sight unseen. They aren’t waiting for reviews or hear-say, they are ready to commit from the beginning! The relationship between subscribers and theatres can be a beautiful thing. Trust us – you want subscribers in your corner.
Subscribers prove their loyalty every time they renew. As the relationship builds, they become a recurring audience, one your company can trust and rely upon. If you are cultivating new subscribers, you’ll want to track interest (and guest patterns – click here for more on what to watch for in guest habits). Subscribing audience members are a great way to see if the material you’re choosing to produce is resonating with your audience. If long-time members aren’t renewing – ask them why. It may be the same reason you’re struggling to bring in new members. These guests have proven their investment in your company, so use them as allies. They want you to produce successful material, so they’ll let you know if they think you’re headed in the wrong direction.
Subscription sales are guaranteed income. You are collecting cash up front for the entire season. Consider offering an Early Bird special. This is a chance to purchase season tickets ahead of time or early in the window of subscription sales. Early Bird deals are a great way to keep members renewing year after year! Even with a discount, you are still bringing in hard cash at the start of your season, proving the value of subscription sales.
This is arguably the most important thing to gain from cultivating subscribers – because it’s free. Building a strong relationship with your theatre’s recurring members is a guaranteed boost in marketing, simply because they are likely to mention your work to others. Word of mouth is not to be taken for granted. If you have a strong audience base in your subscribers, it is highly likely you’ll see new faces accompany them to the shows. This is a wonderful thing, because those new guests could potentially be future subscribers, furthering the reach of your audience. This is yet another way to see if you are producing successful material. You can trust that your subscribers like the work happening if they’re recommending it to others. All of this comes together to create perfect, naturally-occurring, free (did we say FREE?!) marketing assistance.
By offering your subscribing audience small perks, like Early Bird discounts, merchandise deals, or special access to the casts, you are strengthening your relationship. In turn, this bolsters your members’ loyalty and commitment to your theatre. Overall, they provide a unique insight to the success of your theatre in the community, they start your season strong with guaranteed cash-flow, and they help promote your shows without any effort on your part. Use this connection to your advantage – be kind to your subscribers and they’ll be kind to you.