If it is good enough for Starbucks, it’s good enough for theatre!

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have a loyalty card of some description in their wallets? Whether it is from a coffee shop, a retail giant or an airline, we all have at least one loyalty card. And if it is good enough for Starbucks, then it is about time the theatre started looking at it!

Pippin Loyalty Card

Why are loyalty cards so powerful? They encourage you to monopolise all your purchases at one location because you are earning points. There is an incentive to wait until you come to that specific store to spend your money, even if there are other similarly-satisfying stores nearby. And they make you more likely to spend a little more if you are going to gain some sort of reward.

Who among us hasn’t been more likely to grab that unnecessary coffee because we know that next time it will be free!

Well, the good people at Pippin noticed the lack of loyalty programs for Broadway audiences. And what did they do? They invented their own.

After you have downloaded an app from the iTunes store, every time you visit Pippin you have the opportunity to scan your card and earn some points. Then, like every loyalty program, once you have a sufficient number of points you can redeem it for prizes.

There isn’t anything particularly special about this loyalty program. But there doesn’t need to be because it is targeting their most profitable market . . . Big Time Fans!

The Big Time Fan already comes to lots of performances, but by providing them with a loyalty card they can finally justify the amount of money they are spending on tickets. And in turn that means that they are more likely to come a second time (or a hundred and second time) which means more revenue and bigger audiences.

But that isn’t all. Rewarding fans with prizes has two big advantages.

Firstly, they tell all their friends how successful they are at gaining points. Not only does this mean the fans are coming more often to the theatre, but they are also telling all their friends about the show. And by bragging about their points they are able to convince their friends that it is worth going as their friends can literally see the amount of money they have invested into enjoying the show.

Secondly, and most importantly, overtime these Big Time Fans will collect all the merchandise from the show. Remember that scene from Friends where Joey pretends to own a Porsche by buying all the available merchandise. Well, when these people always supplement their wardrobe with a Pippin hat or a Pippin t-shirt, or even a Pippin bag, they literally become a walking advertisement.

Now, this position can carry some risk . . . except when it comes to musical theatre fans. They know what they are talking about when they subtly promote the product to their friends, they want others to go and see the show and they will talk incessantly about it when someone innocently asks the question: ‘That’s a cool shirt, where did you get it from?’.

A win for everyone involved (unless the person who asked has absolutely no interest in attending the show!). So, moral of the story. Reward those fans who do the hard work of promoting your show and they will go to even greater lengths.

Now, off to get a coffee. All this talk of loyalty cards has reminded me that I am only one coffee away from a free muffin!