Ten years into our ongoing patron behavior research and analysis, data is showing us an alarming fact: There’s a huge set of cracks in the foundation of patronage that arts organizations are built upon.
In patron behavior terms, the “cracks” are caused by Tryers. These are households that have infrequent, one-time, or long-ago transactions with arts and entertainment organizations and they are the most prevalent type of patron behavior.
Right now the databases of most arts organizations are likely comprised of 90 percent Tryers. And most of them are patrons you’ve allowed to lapse.
Tryers—TRG Arts research has found—are the least loyal, most expensive to acquire, and most difficult to retain patrons. That most audience or visitor bases are built on Tryers is a real threat to the sustainable future of arts and entertainment organizations. It doesn’t have to be that way.
- The focus on finding new single ticket buyers is part of the problem. Research tells us that new ticket buyers churn out an alarmingly high rate after their first attendance. Often, organizations lose more patrons than they bring in annually, and that trend triggers institutional decline.
- Specific patronage programs–subscription, annual fund giving, membership–are escalators toward lifetime loyalty. Patrons who stick with a company over time and through continuing investment—loyalists—do so through these programs.
- Loyal patrons are made, not found. An organization’s most loyal, most engaged, largest invested patrons rarely if ever arrive in an organization’s pool of supporters fully formed. Research shows that new patrons who do stick with an organization do so by adding specific transactions in an escalating pattern of increased, frequent, current investments of time and money. Read the rest of this entry »