Our subscription campaign pas de deux

aedmonsonheadshot.jpgGuest writer: Andrew Edmonson, director of marketing and public relations

We are in the home stretch of one of the most intense phases of our subscription campaign, with two more weeks left for subscribers to renew their season tickets for the company’s 2008-2009 season. 

This year, our subscription campaign is budgeted to bring in $2,000,000 in revenues.  This is the marketing department’s second highest sales goal after The Nutcracker, which is projected to bring in $3.2 million in sales revenues in 2008.  The marketing department has a staff of ten full-time employees, with up to ten part-time employees in our box office during peak periods and an outbound sales staff of over a dozen part-time customer service representatives. 

Although we’re sprinting to the finish line of the renewal campaign, the subscription campaign is actually more like a marathon.  It runs for almost twelve months, beginning in mid-February with the announcement of the upcoming season, continuing with five different drops of direct mail scheduled over the next six months until we finish in early February 2009.  Our outbound sales staff began calling this week, and they are projected to bring in over $600,000 in sales.

Over the last four seasons, with an infusion of exciting new works into the company’s repertoire by artistic director Stanton Welch, we’ve seen a 40% increase in subscribers. Our biggest challenge now is to sustain the momentum of upward growth.

Season ticket holders are the lifeblood of any arts organization.  They pay for their tickets six months before the season opens, they commit to seeing six or more productions (as opposed to cherry-picking the most popular works), and many of them also make generous contributions to our annual fund campaign. 

On an even more basic level, subscribers are a crucial part of the artistic process.  Artistry can’t happen in a vacuum (or if it does, it’s much less compelling and more narcissistic) . The audience plays a crucial responsive role. The dancers feed on the energy and feedback that only the audience can provide.   Subscribers see the big picture of all that Houston Ballet does, and they have a unique perspective on how both the company, and individual dancers, are growing and evolving.  They are our partners in the pas de deux of making art. 

Our former prima ballerina Janie Parker once commented that although she struggled with insecurities throughout her career, she blossomed and flourished as a performer in large part because Houston audiences were so loyal, warm and supportive.  She could feel their energy and love across the footlights.

-Andrew

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