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Emerging Social Networking/Finance Apps and Theater/Cabaret Inclusion

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it – if I see any of the above logos plastered to the front door of a restaurant, I will pause and take a closer look. You see, I’m a sucker for social applications that provide financial ease, perks, discounts, rewards, “punch-card” freebies, anything that will make my pocketbook sing and my interest in trying something new get fired up. I’m an actress/singer – I have had to find the odd cheap meal between auditions or en route to rehearsal, and all these logos catch my “save a buck” eye.  I signed up for LevelUp and Foursquare many months ago, but I was just introduced to Loyal Blocks yesterday, and Social Passport today. I downloaded them simply to check them out and see how I can use them to their full potential…and I’m not the only one of my generation (and younger) to do so, and I had a few thoughts on these emerging social media applications and how it may apply to Cabaret and Theater marketing.

For those who have yet to see these stickers, which are quite common here in New York City, there have been many times where I’ve walked into a brand new eatery just because I saw the “LevelUp” logo.  LevelUp uses a QR code connected to your credit/ATM card to pay for your meals, and you are rewarded twofold: 1. your first visit has a $1-$3 discount automatically, and 2. spend a certain amount, and you’ll get $5-$10, or whatever, off the meal after that. Other android, iPhone/iPad, and mobile-savvy applications offer virtual punchcards (buy 10, get the 11th free), ease of posting to Facebook and Twitter (can we say “Hello, free word-of-mouth advertising”?) and specials-of-the-week to claim the next time you happen by.

I’m gushing about this because I feel that some areas of New York commerce could benefit from this new way of transacting money and encouraging incoming foot traffic/customers…specifically, those of Theater and Cabaret/live music. First of all, these social media applications are more likely to be in the hands of the younger generation, a group that theater and cabaret venues have difficulties reaching and attracting. Secondly, a venue would do more business getting 10 more people through their doors on a “10th visit gets you a waived two-drink minimum” promise, and would not lose much giving some things away for free each time. Plus, with the advent of social networking sites/apps like Foursquare or Social Passport, checking in on a venue instantly brings about a real-time “hipness” to a venue previously considered a hangout for the older crowd.

There are other possibilities: Theater groups can offer discounts to tickets if you share their event on social media, or $5 off company/show t-shirts and merchandise/CDs. Punch your card in for each ticket purchases of 4 shows of the season, and get the 5th and last ticket of the season for free.

The point is not to give away things for free willy-nilly. The point is to attract young, enthusiastic, loyal, passionate people into one’s business and provide incentives to come back again and again. I know many people claim attending the many small-venue venues that charge a “cover and 2-drink minimum” is a burden to their pocketbook. But what if they got to waive the the two-drink minimum after 5 visits? This may prove to be a boost in sales, visits, and – ultimately – audience attendance.

Have a thought about this? Email me your reaction, and I may include your thoughts in a future blog entry on this subject.

(Why did I post this blog entry, you ask?  I’m channeling my inner Ken Davenport here, if anyone wanted to know my inspiration.)

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