Managing Your Firm’s Season Tickets

Jul 16th, 2013 | Law Firm Marketing, Legal Marketing in Brief

Survey shows 43% wasted

It’s the season for buying and allocating your season tickets– football, basketball, hockey, concert, and theater. Law firms everywhere are sending in their share of the estimated $30 billion that will be spent this year by businesses on tickets and suites to entertain and cement relationships with clients, prospects and referral sources.

According to an article in Forbes, TMS, which handles ticket programs for thousands of companies, including giants like Google, Hewlett-Packard and J.P. Morgan Chase, did a survey revealing 43% of corporate tickets were unused or given away at the last minute and not used as intended.

Few partners or marketing directors want to see their business development dollars wasted as revealed by the TMS survey.  Here are some best practices to ensure your law firm gets the most out of season tickets:

  • Rather than buying a suite for an entire season, find out if your local arena, franchise or cultural center sells “per seat” or “per event” shares of suites.  In many cities, companies have been formed and offer such packages.  Suite seats make a great impression.
  • Buy half or a quarter of the season and sell the remainder to another professional services firm.
  • Have a schedule and get those who are interested sign up for specific events or games well in advance.  Have each person report with whom they attended the event.  You will need to have a marketing or administrative person manage this list and the reports of who attended afterward.  Reports should be provided to your marketing committee/partner for review.  The looser your supervision and evaluation of attendees the higher the percentage of tickets that go to waste, in our experience.

Problems arise frequently enough with tickets that the Institute of Finance & Management has published a best practice on the topic saying:  “If an employer has purchased season tickets to a sporting event or theater, (a policy) should specify which employees are eligible for tickets, how the tickets are allocated, and whether employees can use the tickets for their own personal enjoyment or only for entertaining clients or business associates.”

Keep in mind that clients and vendors have their own policies regarding accepting tickets. This may limit how many seats you decide to buy. Here’s Ford Motor Company’s policy:

“You may accept up to two entertainment events (such as a golf outing, or a sporting, theatrical, or cultural event) per calendar year, per supplier, provided that the supplier is in attendance and the event does not require extensive travel or an overnight stay.”

We all recognize that the practice of law has always been a relationship business, and that it will always be a relationship business. Research by the Direct Selling Education Foundation (DSEF) supports this revealing clients “are loyal to businesses they like and trust.”

Spending several hours with clients, prospects and referral sources in an enjoyable setting is one of best ways to accomplish both, DSEF says, adding “Make sure most of your conversations are about others. This shows people that not only are you caring, but also gives you an opportunity to highlight your ethics and values.”

Remember, the cost impact of games and events that are less popular and to which you may find yourself holding tickets can be lessened if you use them as a charitable donation to gain a corresponding tax write-off. You can also give them as rewards to outstanding employees. If you do the latter, remember to shift the cost of the tickets out of your marketing budget.

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