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How CRM Can Help You Outperform National Arts Industry Revenue Benchmarks

Content presented by PatronManager.

In economic news, we sometimes hear that the arts aren’t doing so well. Among other challenges, we hear that they’re losing older audiences and not gaining young audiences at a fast-enough rate to support the very significant costs of doing business. So, how can your arts organization defy this trend and become a sustainable entity for years to come? I have three letters for you: CRM.

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is both a philosophy of one-to-one marketing to customers and the technology that makes it all possible. With a robust CRM system in place, your organization would have the ability to manage all the disparate activities that were once in separate systems, such as ticketing, fundraising, marketing, and data reporting. But outside of the obvious convenience of having one system, what specifically can this kind of technology do to tackle challenges facing arts organization in today’s society? Here are six examples:

1. It will transform transactions into relationships.

Having the ability to process and track ticket transactions in the same CRM system that captures all other information about a patron puts those transactions in context, giving everyone at your organization a comprehensive 360-degree view of your relationship with that patron.

2. It will reduce churn and build patron loyalty.

Imagine that you could quickly and easily run a report of all ticket buyers for the previous night’s event, figure out which ones are first-time buyers, and then send out an email to them right away, inviting them to come back and see another performance. With a CRM system, reaching out to those first-time patrons within 48 hours of an event doesn’t even require a coordinated effort across departments—one person can handle the whole process in a few clicks, or even on an automated basis.

3. You’ll have the ability to easily solicit every donor as you would a major donor.

Your major donors continue to give you money because you know them and treat them as special patrons. You communicate with them in a personalized way. You solicit donations from them knowing their giving history, as well as their giving potential. Your asks are targeted and meaningful. But most organizations don’t treat every donor like a major donor off the bat. Well, a CRM system would enable you to change this. You could quickly and easily send more personalized asks and acknowledgment letters, because you always have a patron’s complete history right at your fingertips.

4. Your marketing and fundraising efforts will be more targeted.

A rich database in a CRM system will enable you to hone your lists and dramatically improve your results. If you can classify your ticket buyers by purchase frequency, zip code, type of performance they prefer, or how much money they’ve given, and target your marketing messages and fundraising appeals accordingly, you’ll see better results.

5. Efficiency and collaboration among your staff will improve dramatically.

When you have multiple transactional systems, each staff member is working in their own private universe. A CRM system provides a single common platform. It increases the efficiency of your staff, fosters teamwork, and eliminates missed opportunities so things don’t fall into black holes.

6. You’ll eliminate institutional memory loss.

An astounding amount of valuable personal information is stored in staff members’ heads. Individual interactions—lunches, parties, emails, and phone calls—exist only as long as that staff member continues to work for your organization. When they move on, that history is gone. With a CRM system, your staff is writing the history of your organization every day. They are creating an integrated record of your relationship with your patrons, and it’s being stored permanently and in a retrievable, organized way.

So how does this translate into tangible results for your organization?

Last year, the United States Census Bureau made revenue data available from the IRS tax filings of all performing arts organizations in the United States from 2013 to 2016. We thought it would be interesting to look at the same data from our customers, using PatronManager (our CRM system built on the Salesforce platform), in the same time period, and compare it to the national average.

Among non-profits in the performing arts sector, PatronManager customers experienced 9.2% average growth each year compared with 2.6% nationally. That puts total three-year growth at 24.3% for PatronManager customers and 8.2% nationally. If you look at all performing arts organizations, both non-profit and commercial, our customers experienced 22.7% average ticket revenue growth each year compared with 6.9% nationally. And the three-year growth was 64.5% for PatronManager customers compared to 24.2% nationally. Those are impressive to be sure, but there’s more! (Source for all data in this paragraph: 2013-2016 NAIS Industry Statistics; PM transaction data from 280 orgs during same period)

In the same three-year period as the government study, PatronManager customers increased the number of tickets sold by 18.7% each year. That’s a total of 59.8% over three years—plus, they increased the number of donations made with a ticket purchase by 13.8% each year, or 46.8% over three years. That’s an amazing return on investment, and it’s all made possible by the power of CRM.

Because these numbers are averages, we fully realize that some customers are performing better, while others are still struggling. Furthermore, we know that many, many factors contribute to both revenue gain and loss from year to year. But, the benefits of having a CRM system to run your business cannot be disputed.

Click here to download PatronManager Client Growth infographic and our whitepaper Six Ways CRM Will Revolutionize Your Business.

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