For success today, take a page out of the Philadelphia Opera’s songbook

Business leaders can learn a few things from the professionals who manage performing arts organizations. I once suggested that website owners borrow a theater company strategy to boost visitors.

You see, managers in the performing arts get immediate feedback on their successes and failures: How many rear ends were in the seats? Further, some are dealing with many of the same “generational” challenges legacy industries in all areas are facing.

The classical performing arts – ballet, opera, symphonies – are struggling to find new, younger, audiences, as their traditional supporters age. The Met Opera, for example, has probably the most aggressive live movie theater broadcast program of any performance art group in the world. They broadcast a dozen or so operas each year to theaters around the world. The broadcasts are in HD video and feature behind-the-scenes look at each opera.

Fans can sign up on the web to receive additional materials for each Met broadcast opera. This helps grow the Met’s base of subscribers and these people, of course, are asked to support the Met in exchange for various benefits.

A recent article by Matthew Sigman in Opera News details how the Philadelphia Opera is aggressively innovating its approach to bringing opera to its city. The opera company’s approach to defining and reaching buyer “personas” is revealing. Business leaders in virtually every industry sector could take some inspiration from the approach they’re taking in the City of Brother Love.

The way they break down or define their personas is based on several important consumer (audience member) attributes: retention, churn (there’s one every business owners can relate to!), demographics, psychographics, probabilities, preferences, and Net Promoter Score.

From those attributes, the opera company has created buyer personas like these:

  • Classic Buffs
  • Mini Buffs
  • Adventurous Buffs
  • Omnivorous Buffs
  • Attender wallflowers
  • Attender bargain hunters
  • Attender uncommitted

As you see from this group, the opera has created two general categories – buffs and attenders – and then broken them down further. Let’s look at why this is important.

Let me start with a question: Do you base projections and therefore business  decisions on a customer lifetime value? You probably do, so let me ask one follow-up question: Do you think the customer lifetime value of all the personas identified in the above list from Philadelphia Opera are the same?

The answer to the second question is obviously no. A related and important observation is that those groups would not be receptive to the same marketing materials. Marketing materials and offers should be created that target each of those groups. Sending the same materials and offers to every group would be a waste of time and money. Further, the opera will probably have to use different channels to reach some of those personas.

A popular word in business today is “granular.” The Philadelphia Opera has taken a granular approach to defining its consumer personas and this allows it to take a granular approach to marketing itself.

How granular is your marketing? Have you really drilled down far enough to truly understand your customers and potential customers?

Leveraging the abundance of data today and the wide range of digital and legacy marketing channels is a prerequisite of continuing success. Businesses that don’t “think a little harder” and “reach a little further” than they did 10 years ago won’t be around in another 10 years.