by Keith Diggle


You are advised to read PRICING and SALES before you go on to Sales Promotion.

Sales Promotion, like Sales, suffers from the ‘Four Ps’ analysis which lumps it together with Sales under the heading ‘Promotion’. The term Sales Promotion has a very specific meaning that relates to a very specific activity whereas the term ‘Promotion’ has a general meaning. In the arts even greater confusion is caused by the way in which the word Promotion is used simply to mean ‘putting on’ a show, an activity that is carried out by a promoter. Not only does the arts need its own analysis of marketing it also needs its own terminology.

You have seen that Pricing, no matter how carefully executed, can create barriers to purchase and that Sales, so often concerned with the mechanics of ticket purchase, cannot entirely remove or reduce the other barriers to purchase. Sales Promotion sets out to improve the perception of the Price/Value relationship to limit the negative effects of Pricing and to make the potential customer more eager to cross those barriers to purchase that Sales has not been able to eliminate.

In the arts world Sales Promotion has always been one of the most powerful of tools of the arts marketer. In my book ARTS Marketing I say, ‘Sales Promotion can help us sell, can help us sell more, can help us sell faster and can help us sell further ahead’.

Improving the Price/Value relationship in the minds of potential customers is done either by decreasing the price or by increasing the value – and sometimes by both. In every case the specific Sales Promotion method used has an aim in mind.

Here are some examples:

The price is X but if you buy now the price will be reduced to Y

Here the intention is obvious – a price reduction improves the price/value relationship and helps the customer jump over the barriers to purchase (such as procrastination).


The price is X. Buy two tickets now and we will send you a free car park voucher valid for the evening when you attend.

Here we attack one of the known barriers to purchase – a collateral cost of making use of the ticket that has been bought.


The price is X. Buy now and we will send you a voucher that will reduce the price of tickets for the next show by 30%.

It is a price reduction but one that only operates if customers extend their commitment.


Buy 4 tickets at X each now and pay for only 3.

Here we are encouraging customers to buy more and rewarding them for so doing. It is no more than a group discount but it is tied to time. Most group discounts are available throughout the selling period for a show.


Buy your tickets now and you will have seat allocation preference

Here price doesn’t come into it. The Sales Promotion method is offering the potential customer the chance of securing a better seat although the price doesn’t change.


Buy all your tickets for the forthcoming season now and you will:

  1. Save 20% on usual ticket prices
  2. Receive seat allocation preference
  3. Be invited to our special New Season Celebration Event and pay only X
  4. Receive a free programme for all events mailed to your home at least a week before each event
  5. Have your name entered in our Special Draw for a case of champagne.

Here the barrier is seen to be the amount of money a potential customer will have to pay to secure tickets for a whole season – almost certainly for two people – and to pay now rather than later. There is, perhaps, also a barrier in the time commitment the potential customer is being asked to make. The rewards are therefore considerable and must be so if substantial numbers of people are to respond favourably.
Readers will recognise the typical bonuses used to great effect by Subscription schemes of the type introduced by Danny Newman.

You will see that in every case the method used is focused on encouraging the potential customer to jump a hurdle and to benefit from so doing. There is a time cut-off (the word now would be replaced by a date in the text of the offer) so that the potential customer must jump to it in order to benefit. The time cut-off also stops the offer degrading the real price that is being charged – for the same reason it is recommended that Sales Promotion offers should be varied regularly.

It should also be noted that in the examples given above the offers are likely to be of significance to the potential customer. An offer of, say, 5% off a price is unlikely to motivate.

Sales Promotion is part of the Trinity and is better when planned in association with its two partners. You will find substantial chapters on Sales Promotion, Sales and Pricing in my book ARTS Marketing.