Selling Experience for the Future

One area of strength for teams around the country is in premium sales.  

This is great because it allows teams to more quickly get back on their feet from the pandemic’s disruptions. 

This strength provides a huge opportunity for teams to lay the groundwork for sustained success as our business cycles begin to stabilize coming out of the pandemic.  
Let me explain three key ideas to help you think through this.

Recognize that the market has changed: 

I’m a fan of market research and the need to constantly stay in touch with the way that your market is changing. This is true now because the pandemic has created a lot of change in a lot of markets. 

A recent story in The Wall Street Journal highlighted that the District of Columbia had lost about 3% of its population during the pandemic, turning around a trend that had seen the city grow around 14% a year over the previous decade. 

That will cause the market to shift. 

Teams that I work with have highlighted how their buyers are changing their purchase habits, buying more premium seats for personal use, using them for entertainment less often, or shifting their purchases from seats to suites.

All of this is data that needs to be used to better focus your efforts to create opportunities and set your team up for long-term success. And it is also a sign that business as usual might not be wise.

Understand that what you are selling is more than just a ticket or “experience”: 

In thinking through your offerings, you need to consider the three stages of the product:

  • The core benefit
  • The actual product
  • The augmented product

Let me explain each of these quickly.

The core benefit is the value that a person receives from going to your event. 

I’ve also talked regularly about the way that I used to upsell tickets when talking to sales reps and I’d reposition their purchase not as a ticket to the game, but the start of a new business relationship that could be worth thousands or millions in new sales. 

Dig deep and understand what the real benefit is for your customer. 

The second level thinking is to focus on the actual product. 

This is just the thing you sell: a ticket, a suite, or a piece of merchandise.

Straightforward, and if you don’t get beyond this level, you are a commodity. 

The final stage of thinking is the augmented product. The augmented product is everything that is included in your experience from start to finish, even before they get to the game.  

As an example, from outside of sports, when I visit the Four Seasons on Brickell in Miami, their signature scent acts as a welcome, transporting me from the flight and the traffic, into a different state. 

That’s the augmented product. 

Another example, think about how your guests are greeted when they enter your building, their suite, or a club space. Is that setting the proper tone for the experience you want to deliver? 

This idea flows through every decision and touchpoint. So, think of the buying experience online, the food and beverage menu, or the frequency of your contact with your buyers, or the touchpoints between purchase and game time. 

All of these are parts of the augmented product, and they highlight an idea that should be on everyone’s tongue: “Everything is marketing.”

Map out a customer journey: 

A few months back, I wrote about the need to think through all of the touchpoints that your customers encounter as they work with you. 

In capturing the maximum impact from a surge in premium purchasing, it is important to keep an eye on the touchpoints you are using to build and deepen your relationships. 

The TLDR version of the previous piece says there are usually more touchpoints in a customer’s journey than we recognize. And the small things often matter way more than the big things. 

This makes going through a touchpoint mapping exercise extremely important because it can make or break your sales and renewals. 

First, it really pays to think about how you want to onboard a customer. If you sell a package, a suite, or a single ticket, how do you want to welcome these people?

You certainly don’t want everyone to get the same experience, do you? 

Second, talking with your fans and customers, dig deep to find out the moments that really have a high impact for them. 

I took a marketing class during lockdowns and during the course wrap-up, we discussed the highest impact touchpoints with our professor, and he said that despite his best efforts, the most impactful touchpoint was always the beginning of the first module. 

Strange, but true.

I talked about the power of the proprietary Four Seasons Brickell smell as a moment of transition. 

These are all small, but impactful touchpoints. 

Finally, experiment with these touchpoints. 

There’s no exact formula and each team is going to find that different touchpoints are going to create a different impression on their customers. 

This means that you definitely talk to your colleagues and pay attention to what other people are doing but recognize that the key to your success likely lies in some unique combination of factors that you’ll have to discover within your organization. 

To take advantage of this surge in premium buyers, recognize that the market has changed, but doing things that make folks feel special never goes out of style.  

Want to read more, visit Talking Tickets! | Dave Wakeman | Substack