Free tickets, anyone?

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This morning, I’m sending out the weekly Construction Marketing Ideas newsletter based on an earlier posting, The Generosity Paradox.  Here, I try to provide some guidance in the apparent contradiction between generously sharing ideas, resources and materials and creating enough revenue to have a viable business.  The rules are simple enough to understand:  When you share rather than sell, you often do much profitable business, but a lot of sharing just leads you down the path of wasted effort for no business.

Yesterday and today, our business must handle this paradox in a practical manner.  Earlier this year, we made arrangements to exchange advertising in Ottawa Construction News for some tickets and suite space with The Ottawa Senators, this region’s only major league sports team.  Not surprisingly, tickets to National Hockey League games can be expensive and this region has always been intensely interested in the sport, with strong junior and amateur programs for kids.  Tickets for good seats to NHL games can be hot commodities, especially if they are free.

Tonight, The Ottawa Senators have scheduled Construction Night, in support of the local community college’s under-construction Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence.  The team’s charitable foundation is contributing $250,000 to support the construction costs and has scheduled a special evening in commemoration of the industry, linked to a game with The Atlanta Thrashers.  The largest group of seasons’ ticket and corporate suite holders in this area are from the architectural, engineering and construction industry.  So it isn’t surprising that we were able to exchange some advertising and publicity with the Senators for this event in exchange for some tickets.

The challenge, with whom should we share our ticket allocation?  Friends, family of employees, people we wish to do business with, people who the Senators (in this case our clients) might be able to sell Seasons’ Tickets, complete strangers .  . .

The exercise gets more interesting when you consider that the “desirable” people from a marketing perspective (namely people whom we wish to do business with AND who are likely candidates to purchase season’s tickets already most likely have received invitations to the event from others or already have their own seasons’ tickets.

As the day progressed yesterday, Jeff Melling and I discovered that the people who would most likely fit the “obvious” criteria we could think about already had tickets or had scheduling conflicts.  So, late afternoon, I decided on another solution.  I drafted a special e-letter describing the evening, encouraging people attending to connect with us for some free publicity, and reporting that we have some free tickets.  I asked that people responding to request free tickets  either attend themselves or let us know exactly who they are inviting.  (The last thing we need is for the tickets to be handed off to people who have no business or relationship to the industry or, worse, scalpers.)

As we sent the email, we learned the Senators were able to offer us a few more free tickets.  But the response to the emailing has been overwhelming.  So far, we’ve received about 25 ticket requests for seven available seats (we may get more requests for tickets and perhaps a few more tickets as the day progresses).  Now we have to decide who to invite.

It is an interesting problem.  Jeff and I will review the names and do our best to make a fair decision.  We know this should not be a lottery — we didn’t set it up as a contest — but the selection process for inviting guests still involves some subjective and objective considerations. Tomorrow I’ll report on the results.

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