‘Programme’-ing more value for your customers

For a large majority of theatre-goers, buying a programme is the first thing they do when they arrive at the theatre. Except when they attend performances by The Production Company . . .

Photo Credit: Jeff Busby Courtesy of The Production Company

Photo Credit: Jeff Busby

For those of you unaware, The Production Company is a Melbourne-based theatre company run by extravagant arts benefactor Jeanne Pratt AC. They put on three productions every year at the Arts Centre Melbourne, each running for roughly a week, with a reduced set, an increased orchestra and a musical theatre celebrity-studded cast. And unsurprisingly they are VERY successful, selling out almost every performance they put on!

But upon seeing their production of The Producers last year I was surprised by the lack of venue staff selling programmes in the foyer beforehand. So surprised, in fact, that I felt the need to pick up one of their subscription brochures to remind myself who was in the cast. But then I entered the theatre . . .

For all shows produced by The Production Company, the cost of the programme is included in the price of the ticket. And as you enter the theatre the ushers hand these free programmes out to everyone who comes through the door.

Now granted, the programme that they hand out isn’t quite as elaborate as those produced by the long-running musicals that visit Melbourne. However, it isn’t that different consisting of:

  • A welcome from Chairman Jeanne Pratt AC
  • Cast biographies
  • A bit of information about the show (background and storyline)
  • The obligatory orchestra list, cast appearance order and musical numbers
  • The odd advertisement
  • A couple of promotional photos that can be seen on their advertising
  • And an acknowledgement of The Production Company’s patrons

The only thing that’s missing is the full page glossy pictures of the performers in action, but then the production period is so short that there isn’t necessarily time to print the programme after the dress rehearsal!

Even though they are missing these photos, the fact that the programmes are free not only overcomes this issue but also adds extra value onto the consumer’s experience. By providing free programmes, consumers feel that they are getting extra value for attending The Production Company’s shows. Especially when the tickets are generally cheaper than its other competitors!

And what does this do for The Production Company? Why should they incur this expense without asking audience members to lighten their wallets by another $15 or $20?

Because it means when the audience evaluate their experience to determine whether they come to another production, there is a MASSIVE addition to the ‘Pros’ column. Not only do they walk away with a free programme (as a reminder of the wonderful time they had), but they also feel that The Production Company recognises the large expense and risk that is taken in purchasing a ticket.

And with that huge addition to the ‘Pros’ column in their unconscious ‘Pros’ and ‘Cons’ analysis, it means that they are very likely to become loyal customers and come back to the next production. Or if you are really lucky, feel valued enough that they purchase a year-long subscription!

Got a comment? I’d love to hear it (well, read it) below! Otherwise, let me know if you have seen a show that has provided some added value.