I recently came across some of my old NHS material on marketing of all things. From the Ken Clarke days when he wanted the consultants to turn The NHS into a business. There’s no obvious connection with the choir is there?
The St Georges’ Day concert at St Paul’s was poorly attended, and thoughts have focused on Aled Jones. We need to sell tickets. More correctly, we need to fill the Town Hall and have a brilliant night. Aled Jones is likely to be popular. But what is going to make our concerts popular when he isn’t there?
So short term we have a good product which is likely to sell. We are getting the information out there – newspapers, flyers, posters, and what/whoever else will give us space without costing a fortune.
But, as some would argue, that is not selling. That is public relations. Selling is in the personal touch, getting people to commit there and then, hands deep in trouser pockets. Many of our choristers are members of organisations who will hire a bus and make a night of it. Selling seems to come easily to them, and brilliant they are too. But many of our choristers are in circles of friends who are not remotely interested in male voice choirs, or Aled Jones. Is a salesman born or made? Can we expect our choristers to do something they are uncomfortable with?
Product and sales. Get the product right and sales have the best chance. Poor product and the choir as a sales force will struggle. It may sound daft to a male voice choir, but we need a fan base. A following which is regular, because we sing what they want to listen to, in venues they like to visit, with a variety of guests who are interesting and entertaining.
Aled Jones will go down well. However, if we don’t explore the marketing issues relevant to our other paying concerts, we run the risk of being repeatedly disappointed.
Another hot topic, not unrelated to marketing. I suspect there are as many views on money as there are choir members.
Some would say that we are well off and not to worry. Others would say if our balance wasn’t so healthy, more effort would be made to sell tickets. On the one hand, why charge for concerts? On the other, why are we doing so many free concerts?
If we did all our concerts for nothing we would need to increase subscriptions (apparently generous when compared to other choirs). How hard would we try to plan attractive programmes with great guests if all the concerts were free?
Being able to command a fee is a measure of our popularity and ingenuity as well as helping to keep us solvent. It’s back to product and sales.
(Whilst a straw poll suggests these views are shared with other choir members, the editor makes no claim to represent an organised official or unofficial point of view)