Festie Guru – How creating a mini-site can give anyone the benefits of a Niche Product Range

festie guruWhen Ticketmaster wanted to increase their sales of festival tickets the solution was to create a totally new website – FestieGuru.

A website selling only festival tickets, and with lots of content and search tools to help each customer find the right festival for them.

The approach has enabled the team to hugely increase sales of tickets (sorry but I can’t share those numbers with you!), by harnessing all the benefits of a Niche Product Range whilst still having the huge product range of Ticketmaster.

The Festie Guru Approach

Nihal Pekbeken, VP Marketing, and her team at Ticketmaster took on the challenge of greatly increasing festival ticket sales for 2014 by creating a test website within a tight schedule.

The festival buyer, and the festival buying process, is very different to the ‘normal’ Ticketmaster ticket sale, since consumer purchases are driven by various preferences based around their overall preferred festival experience. Events last a number of days, and there are a million and one questions a customer wants the answers to before they commit to buy especially if this is their first ticket purchase for them or as a gift.  In the UK we have a vast number of festivals each targeted at a different customer requirement – so finding the right festival can be a challenge for customers too.

They quickly realised that to achieve the objectives they would need to implement a major change in the way they provided information about festivals. It was important however to find a solution that would initially cause little disruption to the existing site where ticket sales could continue as usual. Ticketmaster therefore created a test site, FestieGuru.com which enabled the team to test new creative and content impact on consumer sales with additional focus on fan engagement. (Following the great results it’s been turned into a microsite within the Ticketmaster site (http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/festivalguide) and the other guides are now changing to the same format).

The Festie Guru site is hosted by Ticketmaster’s own guru, who provides advice and tips to all festival goers.

the festie guru

It also has detailed product descriptions including line ups, what else in on offer, and travel times from key cities.

festie guru page

The benefits of the Niche approach

Splitting the festival products into a separate site gave lots of marketing benefits too:

  • Content Marketing – it was possible to build a lot more content about festivals – focusing on the “Festie Guru” who helps customers find the right festival for them, and provides lots of advice and guidance. The right content always means better traffic and better conversions, and provides lots to talk about on social media.
  • Good product pages – it was finally possible to properly explain each festival – with full line ups and all the customers’ questions answered. Which when they were ready to buy takes them to the right buying page in Ticketmaster.
  • Brand awareness – the site enabled Ticketmaster to show they understand festivals, thus building brand awareness in the festival goer community
  • Search – with all the extra content it becomes much easier to rank in the search engines for each of the festivals – simply because the product pages are now full of useful information
  • Whole buying cycle – Ticketmaster used to just facilitate the sale of festival tickets, if you knew what you wanted you go and buy it. Now its becoming the place where the research starts, providing information right from “do we want to go to a festival”, through to the purchase itself
  • Navigation – most importantly the festival guide now enables the customers to find the right festival for them, and makes browsing the available festivals much easier

Taking a distinct part of the Ticketmaster product range, and building a mini site that fits the buying needs of it’s customers has worked really well.

What is a Niche Product Range?

If you’ve not read eCommerce MasterPlan 1.8: Your 3 Steps to Successful Online Selling (or if you want a refresher) here’s what I mean when I’m talking about how Niche a Product Range is.

product range scale

If you’re at the Deptartment Store end you sell EVERYTHING, you’re like Ticketmaster – whatever ticket the consumer wants they just go to Ticketmaster and it will be there. To succeed at that end of the Scale you need to have a LOT of customers.

At the Niche end it is “easier” to be successful. Niche businesses sell just one product – just mugs, just tea towels, or just Festival Tickets. And marketing is easier here because your customer understands you faster – they get what you do quicker; and because you can become an expert in the field and prove it with less effort. (see my video The Power of Niche for a fuller explanation).

I meet many businesses who are in the middle – they have a variety of products that are held together because either they meet a common need (Firebox), or they fit the business owners’ design style (Cath Kidston). To be successful in the middle you need to identify you customer base and build a brand with them – an identity that helps them to understand the eclectic range of products.

How you can use these ideas in your business

The Festie Guru example is one that is most useful to those in the middle of the PRS – if you have a specific set of products that sell well for you it may be worth investing in a separate website for them. Maybe you are a gift retailer and you’re finding that personalized items, or dog items, are really taking off – why not create a separate site for those specifically?

There is a lot here that all of us can take into our businesses:

  • Sometimes less in more – which bit of the business should be giving the most attention to?
  • Great product pages work – what questions do your customers have that need to be answered on the buying page?
  • Does the navigation help the customer to find the right product? if not, how can it be made to?
  • How can you make sure your website proves to the visitor that you’re an expert in your field?

If you’re inspired by this case study, let me know how you get on.