The National Arts Marketing Project, provides information, tools, and practical ideas to design high-quality, cost-effective marketing programs and strengthen arts organizations. Our Advisory Committee provides expert guidance and constantly seeks new resources and information to keep the site relevant and useful.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve reflected on the 2013 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in Portland, Oregon. This was my first year attending NAMPC and I left with more than I imagined. Although the conference was filled with brilliant colleagues and inspiring sessions, my biggest take-away and learning experience came from an unscheduled, happenstance moment in the Speakers Prep room with an Americans for the Arts staff member.
First, let me provide a little context: I work at an art organization that was founded five years ago. As the newest addition to the now five-person team, I’m holding down the first communications/community engagement position in our small, yet dedicated office.
At the conference, I was scheduled to assist Danielle Williams, the website and new media manager at American for the Arts, with an interview for its blog. Unfortunately, the interview subject did not show up. However, this turned out to be an ideal opportunity for me to see ideas from many of the workshops put into direct action. Following the canceled video interview, Danielle had another appointment planned; it was a website user experience test for the new American for the Arts site. Read the rest of this entry »
Social media marketing seems to run the gamut of potential impact — from exponential success, a la Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, to screaming in the dark and bargaining for likes. It’s tricky business. Social media “gurus” make it sound like a science that you’re not analytical enough to understand or don’t have the time to keep up with, both of which are probably true. Whatever your experience has been with social media marketing, here’s what I know for sure: it’s valuable, it’s not going away, and it’s time-consuming.
Allocating the right mix of platforms and the right amount of time to maximize social media can be difficult to manage for arts organizations with already stretched budgets. However, engaging people that are not only savvy, but popular on social media presents a wonderful opportunity to expand your audience and check off social media on your marketing to-do list.
Adly, a startup that matches celebrities willing to post with consumer brands, calls this “amplifying” your content. Rather than working your poor intern to death trying to get your twitter followers up, retweeting, posting, and sharing your little heart out – identify and engage the socially savvy in your community. There are most certainly people in your immediate reach, who have a huge following on twitter, Instagram, and Vine (Facebook is so 2 hours ago) that can push your content out to the audience you want to reach. Read the rest of this entry »
If you want to show customers service that surpasses their arts-related wants and needs, you need to go beyond just the standard “bricks and mortar” museum or store and create an established online presence.
Today, this means not only having an interactive website but also utilizing social media – Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and more – to their fullest potential. Tech-savvy customers can easily search and find artwork and supplies that interest them, complete with product reviews. The more venues you provide for them to discover your offerings, the better your chances for a sale or inquiry about your collection. Additionally, your online accessibility will help interested customers learn more about all of your artwork and related products and services, and it will encourage them to retain your business for future transactions.
With a good interactive website and strong social media presence, you can interact instantly with your followers to understand what artwork they want and how to assist them. Marketing online with tools like Google Analytics provides the data you need to create personalized service strategies that help you deliver relevant artwork and cultivate a high level of engagement with clients who know you understand and respect their desires. You can use the data you collect to design customized recommendations and other content for your followers, and to develop a long-term strategy for including artwork in your collection that meets your customers’ needs. Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s the data* – we all know it:
- Somewhere between 60% and 80% of single ticket buyers never return.
- Multi-buyers (including subscribers) can account for over 50% of all ticket income and more than 80% of all donation income, yet comprise around 25% of all patrons
- Churn numbers can exceed 80% for single ticket buyers, 20+% for subscribers, and around 50% overall
These numbers cause marketing directors to age prematurely. Says one: “I’ve been a marketing director for a dozen years. There must be something I can do to increase the number of attenders. I hate standing still. There must be something we can do to slowly increase the numbers. Growth is very slow. We have a high renewal rate for some packages, but I’d like it to be higher. The biggest challenge lies in one-time single ticket buyers. There are so many each season. Surely there is something we can do with them. How can we identify/entice move more single ticket buyers into more frequent attendance and towards subscription?” Read the rest of this entry »
I live and work in a small city, the capital of a small country that has four times more sheep than people. Cardiff (www.visitcardiff.com) has a population of less than 350,000 but has a growing reputation as a vibrant city where people want to live and visit. It has, as we say in Wales, ‘hwyl’ – a complex and intangible mix of passion and sense of belonging that isn’t easy to translate but has been said to sum up Welshness in a word.
The contribution of creativity to the social and economic success of cities is a hot topic. And that’s no surprise…CREATIVITY MATTERS. It can drive economic opportunity, aid social problem solving and cohesion, generate new ways of thinking or bring together established ideas in new ways to drive things forward.
But it’s not just about economic growth – creativity can make our cities a better place to live and somewhere more exciting and stimulating to be, to work and contribute. Creative cities are also often better governed and better organized places – though perhaps it’s difficult to discern if better government produces more creativity or more creativity makes better government. (Though I know what I think.)
Either way our cities can be hotbeds of creativity – full of the buzz of arts venues, bars and restaurants and awash with architect-designed buildings. But it’s about more than that, more than being a hub for enterprise and culture even. Creative cities provide countless opportunities for everything from accidental connections to formal collaborations. And it’s those opportunities, those sparks that act as a catalyst for new thinking and innovation. Read the rest of this entry »
If size matters, community engagement must not, or so the current trend of Facebook advertising and it’s near white-noise moment forecasts. Now that the dust has settled on arts organizations creating social media channels, the urgency for continually increasing follower count needs to slow down and priority needs to shift to integrating content and social strategies.
Did someone in your marketing department cheer when Instagram announced that advertisements were nearing reality on the photo-sharing network? Send that person back to Social Media 101. For every step a social platform takes towards monetization, two steps are lost in the journey towards community engagement.
“Marketers believe that a good ad can divert attention, maybe even kick start conversation – a troubling proposition,” writes André Mouton. Is he wrong? Hardly. Beyond the obvious danger of over-saturation, the loss of an already somewhat tenuous relationship between brand and consumer on digital platforms is a real risk.
Breaking that relationship would mean a complete defeat of the social engagement overhaul organizations spent the last few years adopting. “Social media is in danger of becoming something like reality television – a glimpse into the lives of people we find interesting, but have little personal connection with,” Mounton adds.
How should a brand avoid falling down the advertising rabbit hole on social media? Start understanding that everything you post on social media is, by its very nature of coming from a brand account, considered an advertisement. That innocuous photo of a gorgeous sunset over your theatre’s plaza might have resulted in ten times the number of shares a link to the latest New York Times review received, but they are both serving the same purpose in the eyes of a consumer—brand awareness. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been thinking a lot about how a line from one of my favorite musicals, My Fair Lady, pertains to arts marketing. Bear with me.
For those who don’t know it, the Lerner and Loewe musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, tells the story of famed linguist Professor Henry Higgins and a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle whose elocution improvement becomes his pet project. Towards the end of the play, now a proper lady with perfect pro-noun-ci-a-tion, Eliza delivers the anthem, “Show Me,” admonishing her suitor, Freddy, for saying instead of demonstrating how he feels. “Sing me no song, read me no rhyme, don’t waste my time, show me!” Eliza berates Freddy. Why have I been thinking about this? Well, what Eliza delivers as romantic instruction was actually prescient advice for 21st century arts marketing.
We’ve all noticed the shift towards the visual. It’s impossible not to. Web pages have evolved rapidly to keep up—the more visual real estate the better. Take Facebook as an example: People may have fought the mandatory migration to the Timeline when it first rolled out, but now that it’s here, it’s hard to remember a time when prime real estate wasn’t allotted to visuals, right? And as curators and purveyors of content, our practices as arts marketers have also had to evolve. Marketing once concentrated on the way we talked about our products. Now, it’s about making that message leap off the page—or more often, device—with bold visuals. It’s about showing our audiences what we’re made of. Images have become their own breed of storytelling. We all love our Facebook banner image, our branded Twitter page and our Youtube channel because each offers the chance to distinguish ourselves.
As a content curator for artsmarketing.org and our NAMP Facebook page, I can say with certainty that posts featuring compelling visuals or video clips attract an enormous amount more attention than those that don’t. I consider the visuals that accompany the articles I post as carefully as the posts themselves. I have to. In a world inundated with images, the trick is to catch people’s eyes. Once you do that you have already increased your potential influence. Visuals are a language quickly understood and, thanks to mobile devices, easily shared, so their impact—and your reach—can grow exponentially. Read the rest of this entry »
I remember three or four years ago when the big push for many arts groups was the learn to embrace social media. Facebook was booming for both business and personal pages, and nobody wanted to be left behind. Back then, you could still get a good bang for no buck on Facebook if you created helpful, personal posts. Sadly, recent changes to Facebook tell a different story. Facebook can still be an effective visibility tool, but only if you are willing to allocate a budget to Facebook to be able to reach not only new people, but increasingly to reach the people who have already connected with you.
While I think we’ve all known that not everyone sees our posts when we post on Facebook (Facebook has an algorithm called EdgeRank that defines who will see your posts), we used to be able to reach most people for free. In May 2012, Facebook launched a new feature called “promoted posts,” which allows a user to pay money to make sure that his/her posts will reach his/her audience. For example, if you have 1000 people who had liked your page, and you want to make sure 90% of them see your post, you pay for that service. Facebook is traded publicly and they need to make money, I think we all get that. But what also seems to have happened (although Facebook denies this) is that the percentage of your connections who will see your post if you don’t pay has been reduced more and more since then. Some reports claim that as few as 16% of your connections will see a post if you don’t pay. That’s a big drop from 1000 connections – that’s only 160 people seeing your post. While these might be the “top” people from Facebook’s perspective, it sure cripples unpaid outreach potential.
But let’s forget about percentages for a minute. Let’s compare Facebook marketing to email marketing. Say I offered a new, free email marketing service. You put in 1000 email addresses and send out a newsletter. I then tell you that only 160 people on your list got your newsletter, but if you want to pay, you could reach 900 or so of your 1000 like Facebook does. Would that be acceptable to you? I want to reach all my people if I pay. To me, it sounds like a business that wouldn’t be in business too long as a free service, and questionable as a paid service. But that Facebook gets away with this shows how powerful many of us feel social media is. Read the rest of this entry »
The National Arts Marketing Project Conference is just over 1 month away and I’m thrilled to be both attending and speaking for the very first time. But what I’m most excited about is the theme: “Powered by Community.” Already, I’ve met so many amazing new people online through the conference Twitter hashtag (#NAMPC) and the Linkedin group. And meeting these people has reinforced just how powerful the online world can be in forging meaningful, long-lasting relationships.
Furthermore, it has reminded me how crucial participation is to the success of an event, beyond just the act of attending of course. So I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite examples from arts and culture organizations who have successfully encouraged their audiences to participate on a deeper level:
- American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Tweetups: AMNH understood the significance of Twitter from an early start. Since 2010, they’ve been holding special tweetup events that offer a behind-the-scenes look at various exhibits. Most recently, they held the Whales Tweetup, allowing visitors to view whale specimens and listen to whale vocalizations after hours. And prior to Whales, they invited guests to explore Our Global Kitchen , where guests enjoyed wine, chocolate, and cooking lessons, all while tweeting. These Tweetup events result in hundreds of tweets, with the potential to reach thousands.
- Diablo Ballet’s Crowdsourced Ballet: At the beginning of 2013, California-based Diablo Ballet asked their Facebook and Twitter followers to suggest ideas for a brand new ballet by tweeting to their page, using the hashtag #DiabloWebBallet. Followers were asked to suggest the theme and mood of the piece, as well as specific dance moves, ultimately resulting in the creation of the first-ever crowdsourced ballet. Read the rest of this entry »
At The Right Brain Initiative, an equity-based arts-in-schools program in the Portland area, we’re committed to marrying marketing and community engagement in the organic sort of way they were meant to be. As I advocate for arts education throughout the community, I’m really excited about developing sincere relationships and substantial partnerships. In fact, this month we’re finally reaching the apex of a really fruitful long-term collaboration with Design for Good committee of AIGA Portland, the professional association for design.
Early on, we identified our dynamic creative business community as a key outreach target. Whether they become Facebook fans, volunteers, friends, or maybe donors someday, it is a natural affinity group for us. These folks have personally benefited from the kind of education we promote.
Fortunately, our friends at AIGA wanted to do something to make a genuine impact on both our organization and arts education at large, but arriving at a collaborative model for this partnership wasn’t easy. While the global design sector has expressed great interest in addressing arts education, real partnerships between the design and non-profit communities are really hard to find. Socially focused designers are used to donating services to non-profits (Thank you! Please keep it up!), but those relationships can create an uneven power dynamic that prevent true collaboration. Designers are also fond of gathering to generate ideas to address social problems, but there is often no plan to bring those solutions to life. We had look for a new standard. Read the rest of this entry »
A few weeks ago “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” was making the social media rounds. The album was inviting and eminently repost-able, but days after reading it, one of the points was still nagging at me. “Number two: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.” A similar mantra could be useful to those of us marketing the arts.
There’s just one thing: it’s not quite right.
The problem is that it’s actually rare for those of us who work in the performing arts to resemble our typical audience members. And it’s even less likely that our interests as audience members will align with the interests of those who aren’t currently attending events at our organizations. Last year I wrote about the perceptual and psychological barriers that keep audiences away. Just as those of us who work in the arts tend not to think enough about those barriers to participation, it often doesn’t occur to us that prospective audiences might attend a performance for reasons quite different from ours.
Arts marketers are often in the business of predicting the unpredictable: “If I do (insert tactic), will they come?” The question applies to every piece: an expensive brochure, a low-cost email campaign, a Tweet or Facebook post—just about anything in the marketing arsenal.
Arts marketers aren’t psychic, but you can predict how your direct marketing campaigns will fare. Analyzing who took you up on your past offers tells you where your base of support for future campaigns lies. Tracking response gives you predictive power for future campaigns:
- We got almost a 1% response… We can expect a similar response on future mailings to these types of patrons, then.
- We sold about $90,000… Historically, similar renewal campaigns have done the same. Let’s use this number in revenue projections.
- Our ROI was 3-1, but we made a lot of revenue…When we spend more on acquisition campaigns, we make more.
Understanding response to campaigns, like so many things in arts marketing, is dependent on using good methodology to track patron behavior. At TRG, we research the behavior of patrons within individual organizations’ databases, as well as aggregate data in 20 community networks across the country. Our research helps arts marketers harness the power of their local arts market by describing how patrons behave across organizations in their city or region. Using this individual and aggregate data, we’ve been able to find the best ways to track patron behavior and start finding meaning in those numbers, including some I talked about in a recent webinar.
The problem that inevitably arises with response tracking is that many methods don’t accurately capture response. Promotional codes can be mis-categorized or typed in wrong at the point of sale. For example, if there’s a discount offer associated with the promo code, you’ll often get “hidden responses” where people received your piece but don’t use your discount code; instead, they choose to pay full price for a different date, seating section, etc. Read the rest of this entry »
Before the Apollo Theater opened for its inaugural performance on January 26 1934, Harlem’s 125th street was a shopping center for residents in the mostly white upper-middle class neighborhoods surrounding Columbia, Barnard, and the City College. The theater that became the Apollo was erected in 1914, designed by a prominent architect whose projects included the Belasco and later the Selwyn (now known as the American Airlines) Theaters. From 1914 to 1934, the theater served as a venue for burlesque and vaudeville performances. In the early 1900’s developers had invested substantially in the Harlem community in anticipation of the 1904 opening of an elevated subway line connecting uptown with downtown. By the early 30’s 125th street had become a substantial commercial and entertainment center. At the time that the Theater was re-christened as the Apollo, the real estate bubble brought on by the prospect of growth in upper-Manhattan had burst. White New Yorkers did not move to Central Harlem in the numbers anticipated by developers leaving many newly constructed residences empty. Rather than lose out on their investments owners then rented their properties to African-Americans who had been living in the area of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Lincoln Square and Hell Kitchen neighborhoods, and who were arriving in New York from the South and Caribbean. This took place over the period of time known as the Great Migration.
Looking back on this period of history, it is apparent that waves of change we face today echo the challenges of generations past. Whether the changes are social, technological, or physical, the only thing leaders are guaranteed to face over time is change. Read the rest of this entry »
Vancouver Opera recently received a grant from OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences initiative, funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, to help us address three major audience-development challenges:
- The lack of opportunities for potential audiences to sample opera, in programming that will give people an affordable, accessible “first step” between no involvement with us and the purchase of a ticket to a mainstage performance. The best seat to an opera is the highest priced ticket in town, with the exception of decent seats at a Canucks game, so you can see our problem. A normal first step is in fact a leap, of both faith and investment.
- The vast untapped audiences in outlying municipalities, which are home to culturally diverse populations with little familiarity with the art form and little inclination to explore it. Metro Vancouver’s demographics are continuing to shift rapidly. Very soon, those whom we have traditionally called “visible minorities” – mainly people hailing from Asia and South Asia – will be the majority.
- The practical obstacle to attendance in the form of distance from those outlying areas to downtown Vancouver and our opera house.
We have devised a two-part project, which begins in February 2014. In part one, we’re going to transport opera to this untapped audience, by producing affordable sampler concerts in popular community venues: “400 years of opera in 75 minutes” or “Opera’s Greatest Hits”. In part two, we’ll sell them discounted tickets to a mainstage opera (rendering their sampler concert ticket effectively free). At the opera house, they’ll be “transported” by Mozart’s Don Giovanni or Verdi’s Don Carlo and become instant and lifelong opera lovers.
That, at any rate, is the plan. But here’s the cool part: an optional mode of transport downtown will be on specially arranged “Opera Trains.” We’re working with our regional transit authority to create programming in the departure stations and on board the Skytrains while they ride downtown. They’ll get a pithy and playful introduction, with music, over the P.A. system, or on their smart phones, to the performance they are about to see.
There will be a splashy media launch, we’ll “wrap” Skytrain cars with all sorts of branding, we’ll give draw as much attention as we can to opera and our transit partners, and it will be a transporting experience for everyone.
Stay tuned. I’ll report later on how it goes.
Doug Tuck will be presenting the following sessions at our National Arts Marketing Program Conference November 8-11 2013 in Portland, Oregon:
- Preconference-Unlocking the Value Equation: Navigating the Art of Psychological Pricing
- Predictive Modeling for the Experienced Marketer
- One-to-One Coaching- Coping with your new or old marketing job: what are your challenges and ideas? Let’s talk.
For more information or to register for the conference, click here.
Today’s media landscape of shrinking newsrooms, thinner newspapers and less in-depth arts coverage poses challenges for cultural organizations. It also offers new opportunities — as long as you’re ready to act by anticipating the needs of the press and public.
Today’s journalists are doing more with less, often providing photography, video and/or audio to go along with their written stories. Many of the reporters I talk with are under tighter deadlines to publish content to the web and under pressure to attract more clicks on their articles. As both the media and arts organizations navigate the demands of the 24-hour news cycle with fewer resources, a proactive and collaborative approach to communications can benefit everyone.
Cultural organizations hoping to land media coverage today must anticipate the needs of the press and be a valuable resource to reporters and editors. This includes offering multimedia content, which can include b-roll footage of a performance or event, behind-the-scenes preparations and Q&As with artists and organizational leaders — anything that offers an intriguing and relevant audio/visual component. The more “packaged” your pitch is with resources you can provide to a reporter or editor, the more likely you are to secure coverage in a variety of outlets.
Much of this multimedia content can then be taken to your own web and social media platforms, giving you opportunities to directly tell the story of your organization and create deeper understanding and engagement with audiences.
Almost anyone in your organization can be a source of compelling content if you collaborate across departments — and not all of this content needs to be created from scratch. For example, an exhibition’s curatorial essay can become a blog post of excerpted material, which can be shared in your email newsletter, while an interesting essay quote or related question can be posted to Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps that curator can also give a 2-minute video “tour” of the exhibition that gets posted on YouTube, with a still photo or video clip on Instagram. All of these pieces come from the same source material but are then interpreted for how audiences communicate and engage through each of these media platforms.
Just remember that, as any good publicist knows that pitches need to be tailored to individual journalists and outlets, organizations must understand how content translates across different direct-to-audience platforms. Don’t try to communicate an overly complex idea in a tweet or Facebook post, and watch your analytics to evaluate what content is actually creating engagement.
As you plan the media relations calendar for your year or season, consider how your story pitches and the content you’ll need to provide to the press can work for your other audience communications. Programming, artistic, and educational staff should be part of this planning process — and those departments should be discussing ideas with the PR team as their programming is being developed, not as an afterthought.
This is a holistic approach to communications that requires time, effort and cross-departmental collaboration, but it is a method that pays off over the long term — ultimately cutting down on the duplication of efforts among staff, producing consistent and proactive communications and putting you one step ahead.