The short answer is you probably already have one, but no-one has written it down yet.
Since the transition from raffle tickets to computerised box office systems the sector has been driven by data, to a greater or lesser extent. Having a ‘data driven strategy’ is an acknowledgement that the organisation is ‘listening to the numbers’ to achieve business goals.
What do you need to know?
This is the place to start. To be absolutely clear about what data you need to gather you must consider what outputs you need.
‘I need to be able to send email campaigns’ = email address, accurate marketing preferences
‘I need to know if my sales are on track’ = ticket price, number of tickets, transaction date, same data for comparison shows
‘I need to report to funders where my audience lives’ = postcode, ticketing history, perhaps genre coding, performance or transaction date
Always sanity check your aims by asking ‘so what?’ to be sure you have actions from the information. Too often data is collected because its ‘interesting’ but if you can’t act on it, it’s useless.
Also, be clear on How you will measure the actions and Who will do this. For example, if you are implementing an audience development plan to attract younger people, you want to monitor your progress, measure success against your targets and be able to tweak your plan to achieve your goals. All without detracting from the day job, so be clear from the start about who will take responsibility and how they will evaluate and feedback to the rest of the team.
This is the last part of the strategy. Finding the data points you need to give you the insights to action your aims is probably the easiest part.
However, be pragmatic. Don’t launch a full-scale primary research project with customer panels and 1-2-1 surveys at every exit if you can get 90% of the same information in a different, and cheaper, way. The extra 10% won’t make any difference to the results and you will have spent a bucket load of money and time to achieve the same outcomes.
Data Driven Strategy Considerations
Focus: be clear on what you’re working towards and what decisions you are looking to make on the back of the data you collect. Only measure what you can change. Be sure the data you’re collecting will give you the insight you need to make decisions. e.g. don’t collect birthdays if you’re not going to use them
Relevant: don’t waste time and resources making decisions on old info. You wouldn’t navigate using a map from 20 years ago so don’t do it with your data
Data Quality: Get the team onside and build in processes to keep data clean and useful. The Box Office team need to understand how their role underpins the success of the organisation and that skipping asking for a postcode or not bothering to check for an existing customer account, really does matter – clean, full and regularly updated data has an impact.
Keep it simple: be pragmatic and iterate. Concentrate on a few key measures to begin with and build over time, don’t take months to develop a complex plan then launch with a big Ta-Da; an agile approach will get you moving and learning as you go.