Lollapalooza Lessons—Building Trust

Lollapalooza Lessons—Building Trust

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Have you ever spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars without having any idea what you were getting in return for your money? I have. How could a company get me to do that? I’ll explain.

Lollapalooza, Chicago’s annual outdoor music festival, attracts an estimated 300,000 festival-goers each year and sells out before they tell you who’s going to be performing. The process works something like this:

  • You go to their website and try to find a “tickets go on sale” date. It’s usually not there.
  • One random day the ticket sales date and time appears.
  • You set an appointment in your calendar.
  • You leave yourself a note on the fridge.
  • You ask your friends to remind you.
  • On that day, at that hour (or 20 minutes before hand, to be more exact), you fire up every computer, iPad, and smartphone you have and point them to the ticket sales website.
  • You wait and wait, refresh and pray.
  • If you get lucky enough to actually get an opportunity to buy tickets, you buy them. $250 per ticket or more. Depending on the ticket, you can pay north of $3000/ticket.
  • You rejoice when you have them because you know that hundreds of thousands of people are staying home that weekend because they couldn’t get tickets.

Lollapalooza sells out approximately 300,000 tickets as quickly as their computers can process the orders before they ever tell you who’s appearing. How do they do that? Because their customers trust them. Although Lollapalooza is always evolving as a music festival, they have established their reputation in the marketplace and their customers trust them enough to buy, buy, buy.

Do your customers trust you? I mean really trust you? Enough to say, “If you’re selling it, I’m buying it” sight unseen?

Here are some ways that Lolla has built trust and how you can, too:

Testimonials/Social Proof. Even people that have never been to Lollapalooza believe they’re going to have a great time because everyone tells them they are going to. Lollapalooza has an army of raving fans that wouldn’t miss it and are happy to tell everyone about their experience. And with the rise of social media, testimonials are everywhere.

You may not have an army of fans yet, but you can ask those who appreciate your work for an honest review on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or wherever your potential customers would go to find you. Like Lolla, you could even create an email list to send out periodic testimonials from happy customers.

Track Record. When I bought my tickets to Lollapalooza this year, I didn’t know who was going to be there. But I knew who had been there before. I had seen some of my favorite bands and some the biggest names in music perform, and I was confident that Lollapalooza would keep up their end of the bargain. I was rewarded with Paul McCartney, Sam Smith, and other awesome musicians.

What is your track record like in terms of quality of customer experience and longevity? Do your potential customers know how good you’ve been, and how long you’ve been good? You may not think it’s a big deal that you’ve won multiple awards and been in business since 2001, but some of your potential customers will. And all other things being equal (which they never are, but your potential customers may have a hard time differentiating you in the marketplace), most customers will go with the company with the best track record.

Transparency. I think Lolla does a great job of building anticipation through surprise—when will tickets go on sale? who will be there?— while demonstrating great transparency about everything else. They share tons of information to keep festival-goers informed about everything. They even have an app with real time push notifications so when something happens they are able to communicate with everyone very quickly. This year they had severe weather roll through and within minutes they were evacuating the park and updating the app with news about when things would reopen, schedule changes for performers, etc.

How transparent are you with your customers and potential customers? If your customers feel like you are telling them the truth, not hiding information from them and not sweeping bad news under the rug, they will trust you more. At least the smart ones will. So many businesses are afraid to tell their customers the truth for fear they will lose the customer. And they may lose some. But the ones who appreciate being informed will appreciate your transparency and are more likely to trust you and buy from you, even if things don’t go as planned. Remember that people buy from people they know, like and trust.

Lolla isn’t perfect, but they are exemplary at building trust. By using testimonials, establishing a strong track record and being transparent with their customers, they have built a trusting, loyal following happy to throw money at them as soon as they’ll take it.

You can do the same for your business. Lolla wasn’t always a smashing success. Early on it was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. But they kept building trust, year after year, and now it’s an empire that puts on festivals around the world. Maybe your business empire is next?

Let me know if you have any ideas about how to adopt Lolla best practices into your own business. If you can’t think of any and would like some help with that, please comment below or send me an email. I can help with that.

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