I frequently find myself reminding clients, friends and colleagues that there are marketing lessons to be learnt almost everywhere in everyday life. I was reminded of one of the MOST important lessons the other day…

As you may know, for many years I’ve done a lot of marketing work in the entertainment industry (movies, videogames, music, etc) and we did recently some work for a live concert targeted at under 18s.

When we arrived on the day there were the usual ticket touts (in the US you call them scalpers) in operation trying to sell over-priced tickets to the event to poor folks who hadn’t been able to buy their tickets before the event sold out.

But these scalpers were having ZERO success!


Was it because they were asking for 50% – 100% more than the actual price of the ticket? Nope… in fact (once they became desperate) many of the scalpers couldn’t even shift the tickets at LESS than the original price of the ticket!

It was because they had totally failed to understand their market!

For any normal concert/tour/event these touts/scalpers make a HUGE amount of money by buying up the tickets as soon as they become available and then selling them on at a huge mark-up once the demand rises (usually outside the venue on the day of the event)

BUT what the scalpers had failed to realize was that the audience for this event was very different. THIS audience was all under 18 and so nobody turned up on the day hoping to secure a ticket.

The difference is that adults are often quite happy to make the journey to the venue and risk being able to buy a ticket from a scalper… but for this event the audience were mostly accompanied by (or being driven to the event by) their parents. And if their teens didn’t have a ticket, the parents weren’t going to drive them to the concert!

By not stopping to THINK about their target market (30 seconds is all it would have taken!) these scalpers ended up with a loss of thousands of pounds/dollars in un-sold tickets!

The Important Reminder!

In marketing, the MOST important thing is having a REALLY good insight into your customers. Put yourselves in their shoes and imagine EVERYTHING that might affect their decision/thinking.

Time spent here is never wasted, so take a few minutes to look at things from your customers’ viewpoint. I mean REALLY look!

If the scalpers had taken even just a few minutes to do this, they probably would have realized that 14 year-olds are unlikely to have the spare cash to spend TWICE the value of an already expensive ticket. And even if they DID have the cash, these teens are unlikely to be able to get to the venue as most still rely on their parents for permission and transport!

Instead, the scalpers assumed this event would be like any other event and so bought up tons of tickets with the plan of selling them later at a hugely-inflated price. And that assumption cost them a lot of money!

Have you ever made the same mistake in your business?

Ever assumed that because an offer worked well for one audience it would work for another? Or assumed that an idea that worked in one location would work in another? Or have you ever just failed to apply common sense to an idea, and paid the price later?

I know I have!

Thinking of things from your customers’ point of view SOUNDS obvious… but how often do you actually DO IT?

Leave a comment and let me know!

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