TicketManager | How Cigna, Verizon and WESCO Are Unlocking Partnership Value

At TicketManager’s Partner Summit in New York City this fall, brand marketers that have implemented a ticket management system discussed the benefits their companies were realizing. Below are edited remarks from three of those sports and entertainment marketers.

Seth Fishbein, Senior Director, Enterprise Media & Sponsorships, Cigna

The world of paid media is optimizing left and right, but folks don’t talk about optimization of sponsorship very often. That was a catalyst behind our roll out of ticket management: the notion that we can optimize sponsorship.

We have distinct audiences, distinct products, and distinct teams. ROI in our D2C business is going to look very different than in our B2B model. We have intrinsic ROI, which is looking at media and brand value, and client persistency, retention and growth. Our three tenants of how we think about the way we make an impact and measure it are: business growth, community engagement and shifting in brand perception.

We build strategic measurement frameworks to look at what we are doing through hospitality. In certain cases it’s going to be moving sales momentum, in certain cases it’s going to be bringing prospects to something they’ve never seen before—that once-in-a-lifetime experience—and other times it’s going to be an RFP in market where we need to engage a client immediately to help win that business.

Part of it is connecting to performance and part of it is shifting into forward-thinking sequencing. Some RFPs are one, two, or three years long, so we’re not hosting somebody once. We need to sequence it and host them the right way. A platform like TicketManager allows us to look at the sequencing more tightly than what we are getting in Salesforce, which is end-value reporting from the sales team. We look at the RFP connection itself and the stage of the RFP versus the experience we should be bringing folks. Early RFP is one type of experience, late RFP is another.

We have had light-bulb moments where our sales team realized how the utilization of the ticket management platform became a catalyst to help them drive better renewals, and in certain cases incremental investment, particularly at the local level.

That’s not to say there weren’t challenges to implementation. A big key to overcoming some of the initial resistance was contextualizing why we were doing this. We took a personalized, almost one-to-one approach to help with the roll out. We had larger sessions, but then we had underlying one-on-one engagements with key stakeholders who had a little bit of fear and concern in giving up ownership.

The integration of TicketManager with Salesforce helps us with understanding the client’s role in the buying process. We have access and insight into that through the connection of the two systems. We also now have a great ability as to how we can curate guest lists, experiences and the investment behind them and sync all of that together. There’s also the ability to look at lifts in our RFP volume, lifts in our sales volume and look at control tests. We can see what’s happening in one market, with one property, or with one audience that’s not happening in another and use that as part of the rationale for investment across those programs, those audiences, or both.

Christina Hull, Executive Director, Head of Experiential Marketing, Sports and Entertainment, Verizon Communications Inc.

For Verizon, ticket management is all about optimization, pulling tickets into a centralized management system for compliance, transparency and utilization so that we don’t have waste.

About four or five years ago, we did a massive audit across the company of tickets that were being utilized for everything from hospitality to sales incentives to different marketing programs. There was no process; no formal way of evaluating that investment.

We put TicketManager in place to centralize all of that. While there were challenges right out of the gate with managers giving us the information or not wanting to give up the responsibility for tickets, it’s been a huge benefit to the company because we are able at any given time to have analytics at our fingertips and can justify investments.

A big portion of our Verizon Up loyalty program is called Super Tickets, which consists of daily, weekly and monthly drops of tickets and experiences. For that program we manage over 50,000 tickets a year, with those tickets coming from media deals and content deals, as well as from traditional sponsorships.

We have to have compliance across everything. We have to have creative development done for every drop. You have to have approvals from the partners, plus reporting and customer care. It touches so many groups within our company. Without TicketManager as a partner, I don’t know how it would be managed on a daily basis. If we fell short on any element of the delivery of that experience, it would have a really quick negative effect.

Melissa Johnson, Senior Marketing Manager, Customer Engagement, WESCO Distribution

We had a unique beginning with ticket management. Our company was in the midst of our largest acquisition, of Anixter, and both companies had no rules or regulations around ticket usage. We didn’t have one place where we listed everything we had.

My team was tasked with four specific goals. Identify the inventory we had. Eliminate duplication. Establish a place for sales reps to go to request or purchase tickets. Create governance around how we use tickets.

Building that governance from the ground up and pushing it through to the entire company was the biggest piece for us and has been incredibly valuable. We’re not throwing away money anymore. There were multiple tickets just sitting out there.

Our most active users in the system today are our sales representatives requesting tickets to entertain current or prospective customers. It’s nice to be able to say that with certainty, because previously we had no idea who was using our tickets or if they were being used. Now, with the insight from the system, we are able to put a number on how much we are spending on this customer in order to do business with them. That number is massively important to our leadership team and our sales representatives.

There were challenges initially. We were going through massive change with a newly acquired company, so getting the attention of our sales reps to even tell them about TicketManager, let alone get buy-in to utilize the system was incredibly difficult.

Two things helped us tremendously. First, we had backing from two key partners: Our leadership team and our finance team. Second, we didn’t give any options. The only way to get tickets paid for was to go through my team. A policy is a policy. If you bend the rules once, it will spread like wildfire, so being firm was incredibly helpful in being successful so quickly.