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I made a friend at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference who told me that she had come to the conference to “recharge.”
This was Monday morning, after two full days of breakout sessions and two late nights of conference festivities, and I may have looked at her like she was crazy. “Recharge?” I asked her. “But I’m exhausted!”
She clarified: “I needed to fall in love again with what I do.” Ahh, now I understood.
I knew what she meant and I think the sentiment may be shared by many of my fellow conference attendees. Like them, I work hard…and a lot.
I also work freelance, which means that I’m juggling the competing demands of six or seven clients at any given time. Add to this keeping up with laundry and trying to go on dates with my girlfriend, and it’s rare that I have a spare moment to reflect on why I do what I do.
This professional self-reflection is crucial, however, as the conference weekend reminded me.
The sessions were, for the most part, excellent. The keynotes were fantastic. The networking was valuable. I feel like I’ve come away concrete tools, supportive connections, and useful insights.
But what I’m most happy to take away is a renewed love of what I do. Read the rest of this entry »
This was my first time attending not only the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC), but also any conference. I am very happy to conclude that my experience was amazing and I would recommend this to anyone that is in any marketing field (and also if you are a student)!
I was asked to write this post-NAMPC piece to deliver a student perspective on the conference…here it goes!
Engagement, Mission, Alive, Active, Participatory, Stickiness, Contextualization, Spry, and Pray…all the words that come to my mind when I think of this past weekend (the list is endless!).
As a student, I came to NAMPC to primarily explore and listen to some of the TOP professionals in the marketing industry. What I received was something I wasn’t ready for.
Presenters sprawled from all areas of business (banks, agencies, venues, organizations, institutions)—both in and out of the confides of the performing arts, which I felt was an awesome exposure and a true springboard for discussions within the sessions.
Like I said earlier one of the reasons why I decided to attend was to listen and expand my critical thinking in an industry that I’m still learning about, that quickly changed to networking and participating within the sessions—I thought ‘when would be the next time I would be able to ask an audience engaging question directly to Alan Brown?’ So I did. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to start out by giving you the link to my Storify—My #NAMPC experience via Twitter. I ended up winning the Most Tweets Award [at the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC)] and I received a fun t-shirt!
I also won by connecting with more people on Twitter and getting to meet some of these people during the conference. It has been a fun and educational experience for me. If you had to miss the conference they promised to archive the keynote presentations soon.
NAMPC had its ups and downs, but mostly ups. However, through the entire conference, this year, like last year, there were some common themes running through most of the presentations.
Instead of a complete play-by-play like I did last year, I would like to leave you with the my most impressionable takeaways and some of my own thoughts (in no particular order):
- You gotta have passion—if you don’t, people will not be attracted to your mission, cause, project, program…Without passion, what is the point?
- Be weird and silly—or in other terms, be true to your own particular self. It’s not about being similar—it’s about standing out.
- Adding your own personality will increase your likeability.
- Have fun! What makes people want to join? Fun! If it is not enjoyable to you, it probably won’t be to your audiences.
- Everyone is diverse in one way or another. These are my personal thoughts: We can learn to reach out to others after we discover our own sense of diversity and understand personally what it feels like to be stereotyped and discounted.
- Keep ego out of the organization.
- Visual impact is necessary! There is so much blah, blah, blah, and not enough “language” of our arts. If you are a music organization, it would be good to have clips and videos of performances and music. If you are an artist, make viewing your art an experience. If you are theater and dance, videos are a must. How can people figure out if your art is for them if they can’t “see” it and feel it? Read the rest of this entry »
“Charlotte in 2012” is becoming quite a theme this year, as we prepare to welcome more than 600 arts marketing and development practitioners from across the country to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC), November 9–12.
The National Arts Marketing Project is a program of Americans for the Arts that, in addition to the annual conference, hosts monthly webinars, organizes regional training programs, and provides on-site workshops on a range of arts marketing topics.
The three-and-a-half day NAMP Conference includes two full-day pre-conferences, four keynote addresses, and more than 100 presenters in more than 50 workshops and discussion groups. Attendees will gain new ideas to build audience, learn ways to stretch even the tightest budget, and discover methods to better engage donors. Past host cities include Louisville, KY, San Jose, CA, Providence, RI, Houston, TX, and Miami, FL.
Method Products Co-Founder and Chief Brand Architect Eric Ryan launches the 2012 Conference as the Opening Keynote. Nina Simon, author and executive director of the Museum of Art and History in Santa Cruz, CA, will invigorate attendees on day two. The Conference closes with author and strategist Rohit Bhargava who will not only share his marketing expertise, but also his new book, Likeonomics, which was just named a must-read of 2012 by Forbes! (Editor’s Note: You can watch all of the keynotes live online!)
Individual session titles will tackle diverse topics like, Innovations That Pay: How Arts Organizations Are Adapting and Finding New Income Streams, Consumer Psychology: New Experiments That Use Science to Grow Your Audience, and The Win-Win: Arts Organizations and Businesses Partner to Achieve More. Read the rest of this entry »
In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month and the annual Americans for the Arts tradition of Creative Conversations, my colleague Ally Yusuf (Founder & Moderator of #ArtsMgtChat) and I are co-hosting the first national Creative Conversation on Twitter!
The Creative Workforce in the Post-Recession Economy is open to everyone and takes place today (October 17) for one hour starting at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT using #NatCC12 as the hashtag.
Come share in 140 characters or less, your thoughts, resources and stories about your view on this fascinating topic. We all either know someone or are someone who has been professionally affected by the recession. Whether you are a staffer, freelancer, consultant, employer or recruiter—you probably have something to add to the dialogue.
(Editor’s Note: For a quick primer on how Twitter chats work, check out this ARTSblog post by Kristen Engebretsen.)
As an arts leadership and professional development researcher and advocate, I’ve been profoundly concerned about the effects of the recession on our nonprofit arts workforce. In response, I established the Art Career Cafe which has both a website with job listings and resources as well as a Facebook page to provide an interactive community.
Since its launch in late July, we have over 200 Facebook group members. Many members are young arts professionals with degrees in arts management looking for full time work; others are freelancers who have chosen a less traditional but equally viable path to a creative career. Read the rest of this entry »
As we entered the 2012 Arts Marketing Blog Salon, I said that we were taking cues from change agents, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. All true, but we were also visited by The Giftgiver, The Cowboy, and The Court Jester.
More so than any label, I would say all our bloggers are Supreme Storytellers. Read the rest of this entry »
Last month I attended the first XOXO festival in Portland, OR. The event was intended to bring technologists and artists together to explore new ways of working that are possible on the internet. Most of the attendees work in the tech sector, but a few brave artists decided to attend. I, for one, am very glad that they did. Artists need to be a part of this discussion.
There is a lot that the arts and technology sectors can learn from each other, about developing an audience, about transformative experiences, and about how to communicate with large groups of people. There are lessons to be learned on both sides, and I look forward to future events that can bring these worlds closer together.
A New Role: Community Manager
The role of community manager is a great example of something that we in the arts can learn from the technology sector. The job title has sprung into existence in the last few years, primarily at consumer facing tech start-ups.
These companies need to develop and serve a base of users for their products, and the community manager’s job is to understand the needs of that community, to talk to them, and to connect their needs with the development of the core technology product.
Inside the company, the community manager’s role is to speak for the users. There’s a single person responsible for understanding and representing the needs of everyone who doesn’t work at the company. Because of that structure, there’s always someone in meetings who can talk about the experience of the people you serve. And if the community doesn’t have the answer you need ready, it’s their job to find it, and make sure it’s part of the company’s process.
These structures for tech companies on the social web have emerged organically along with the companies themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s that time of year. Promotions are popping up left and right offering audiences the opportunity to “Subscribe Now!” at deeply discounted rates.
Our arts organizations are looking for audiences: new audiences, loyal audiences, committed audiences, and in some cases, any audiences. We believe in our art. We believe in our organizations. Surely all we need to do is tell people about the work we’re doing and they’ll see the value and come running, right?
As leaders and marketers in arts organizations, we often seem to operate on the assumption that people should and do want to attend the arts, and it is the practical matters of time, money, location, and the oft-lamented competing leisure-time options with which we must wage war in order to bring those people into our venues. But is it true? Well, on the one hand, yes!
Research from the RAND Corporation’s A New Framework for Building Participation in the Arts shows that, for people already inclined toward participation in the arts, practical barriers are indeed an issue. Strategic use of promotional and other tactics that address these barriers to participation is important as we make sure that those who are inclined to attend the arts do, in fact, buy tickets and attend. And, with any luck, your excellently designed efforts might just entice them to attend your organization rather than another.
But is that enough?
The flip side of the research tells us that practical barriers really only come into play once people decide they are interested in participating. Until people reach that point, addressing practical matters won’t have much of an effect on them. If that’s true, how are we supposed to diversify our audiences and bring new people into relationship with the arts, not to mention with our arts organizations? For that, we have to address the other barriers, the perceptual and the psychological. Read the rest of this entry »
In the digital age, many marketers are fond of pronouncing the death of direct mail. Yet the data is clear—the environment has changed, new techniques have emerged and smarter approaches to direct mail are getting superior results than in days gone by.
Why? It comes down to increased trust, better targeting, and integration with online channels.
The contents of the typical American mailbox have changed dramatically in the last few years. Online bill pay options, increased digital and social marketing, and the spiraling costs of postage (6 price hikes in 6 years, but who’s counting?) are some of the reasons why overall mail volume has dropped by almost 20% since 2006. These changes correspond to exponential increase in the daily volume of our email inboxes.
Recent research shows that many consumers prefer and trust mail more. Epsilon’s 2011 Channel Preference Study showed:
• 75% of consumers say they get more email than they can read
• 50% of consumers prefer direct mail to email
• 26% of all U.S. consumers said they found direct mail to be the most “trustworthy” medium, an increase from prior studies, which even includes the 18-34 year old demographic.
This makes sense, particularly when we stack these findings next to the consistently positive results TRG sees in direct mail response analysis. Mail is getting opened and getting results.
Our take? Digital communication is free or very cheap. It’s easy for anyone to send email. While many legitimate companies use it liberally, scammers are even more prevalent. Just this month I received a seemingly legitimate email from my bank requesting that I follow an embedded link. It seemed a little fishy and in fact turned out to be fraudulent. (Fear not, I didn’t click through.) Read the rest of this entry »
Last month I was minding my own business attending a minor league baseball game with friends, thinking not a whit about the arts. Then something remarkable happened.
Between innings, a young girl who had endured multiple open heart surgeries that saved her life was recognized, along with her family and doctor. She then ran around the bases as part of a program by the ball club called “Home Run for Life.”
This girl’s story had nothing to do with baseball. The program is clearly an effort on the part of the team to connect with its community. So that got me thinking…
What was the mindset that led to this promotion?
Clearly, it was about the team’s interest, for pragmatic reasons to be sure, in being seen as a responsible, caring member of the community. What really got the wheels turning was trying to imagine something similar happening in the arts.
Some of you may say that such a program would not be appropriate for an arts organization, and I am certainly a stickler for focus in adhering to the mission. This specific example is probably not a helpful model. But it’s the mindset that led to the “Home Run for Life” program that intrigues me.
What sorts of activities might come from a view of the “arts self” wanting to connect with the community, even ones that were not directly related to the arts?
After I started down that road, I began to look at the other activities at the ballpark that evening. There were fan participation activities, singalongs (including, of course, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), contests, and fireworks at the end. Many of them were silly to the point of being embarrassing. Many (most?) had little or nothing to do with baseball. I would certainly not advocate for toddler races in Symphony Hall! Read the rest of this entry »
Every time someone questions the value of data mining, I can’t help but hear the Gold Rush-era adage, “There’s gold in them hills!”
The wealth of information gleaned from data analysis can provide great guidance in decision making, especially in relation to pricing. And if you’re a data junkie like me, you might enjoy data mining, too.
Analyzing data gives insight into how the audience values our product. We can then price according to that value.
For example, an organization may assume that its box seats are the best in the house, and price them accordingly. But as the first performances near it’s clear that total sales are increasing, but the boxes aren’t selling. Often this prompts a frantic decision to discount those seats to encourage sales. But hold steady! A more reasoned approach is to ask a few honest questions:
- Is the box ticket price too high?
- Is our perception of the value of a box seat too high?
- Are the range and relationship of the prices out of whack?
Here’s where data comes in—mining into where people are choosing to sit in the house and what they are paying often gives answers.
For example, if we look at the data and see that demand is actually strongest in front-and-center orchestra radiating out, and there is little demand for the boxes, then the audience is spelling it out for us. They value the orchestra seats more and are willing to pay a price they deem reasonable for that value. The box seats are not as valuable to our audience, and the pricing is not reflecting that difference in value. Read the rest of this entry »
A lot of conversations I have about audience development with organizational leaders go something like this:
“We want to find ways to make our institution more participatory and lively.”
“We want to cultivate a more diverse audience, especially younger people, and we want to do it authentically.”
“But our traditional audience doesn’t come for that, and we have to find a way to do this without making them uncomfortable.”
Audience development is not an exercise in concentric circles. You can’t just start with who you already have in the middle and build infinitely outward. In most cases, growth means shifting, and shifting means that some people leave as others come.
This is incredibly scary. It requires trading a certain history for an uncertain future—a nerve-wracking prospect no matter the situation. It’s particularly scary if your institution relies primarily on private donors, members, and gate sales to cover operating costs. When funding is tied to a specific subset of your audience, you get protective of them, even if they are not the people most likely to ensure viability and sustainability in the future.
When I took on the director role at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, we were in a dangerous situation. We had a small cohort of members and donors who loved and supported us. Outside of that, our bench was very thin—no brand recognition, no up-and-coming audience, no big funders with an eye on the future of the organization.
Now, a year later, we’ve more than doubled our attendance, increased membership by 30%, attracted national foundation funders, and gotten great ink locally. Our audience has gotten younger and they come more frequently. Read the rest of this entry »
Is your brand being heard and not just seen?
That is the question that companies should answer with an emphatic YES! Yet many marketers focus their time and resources primarily on visual stimuli to create brand awareness. As the marketplace is becoming more crowded, brands are challenged to break through the clutter and distinguish themselves from the competition.
This calls for a need to embrace innovative methods of reaching consumers beyond the eyes, but also through the “ears.” Here lies one of the most powerful, yet under-utilized branding tools—sound.
Why is Sound Essential to Brand Performance?
Research has proven that sound has a direct path to the emotional and memory parts of the brain. Think about those special moments when music and sound have altered our mood, enhanced feelings, and guided us to places long forgotten. Hearing the sound of birdsong in the morning; an opening theme from a television show; or the sound of our mother’s voice.
As more consumers make purchase decisions driven by emotion rather than function, having sound as part of an identity system allows for brands to resonate in ways that visuals cannot. Audio branding communicates those intangible brand associations that pull at the heartstrings and create unforgettable experiences.
Some brands have been successful market leaders at harnessing the power of music and sound with great effect. McDonald’s “Ba-da-ba-ba-baah…I’m Lovin It” is just as recognizable as the golden arches.
The start-up sound of a MacBook Pro provides an emotional trigger to Apple enthusiasts.
Every time I send out an email or post to my blog, I end with my signature, “Cheers to happy and loyal audiences” and a quote by James Stewart, “Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
I am a firm believer that building a happy and loyal audience is exactly where our focus needs to be, and treating your audience as a partner is one of the many management shifts we can make in order to create a happy and loyal audience.
So, you want an audience that supports you, and you want them to be loyal to keep them coming back for more. What are some actions you can take to make this happen? Here are my top 5 suggestions to get you started:
1. Begin with knowing yourself.
If you don’t know who you are and what your art is all about, how will you be able to attract the right audience for you and your art?
This step means defining who you are down to the letter so you can brand properly and set up your marketing messages to speak clearly about who you are, what your art is, and provide the exact image that matches you and your art.
This is a crucial step. I have seen many artists and arts organizations that are not well defined, and their brand is mainly a copycat of their industry at large. What makes you unique is a better objective and will attract the best audiences for you.
2. Get to know your audience.
When I start a session to discover information about a client’s audience, I mainly ask both demographic and psychographic questions. I am finding that most of us know the demographics. However, when I ask what the main hobbies their audience enjoys or what other art forms they go to or if they have any issues with your venue, I usually get the answer “I don’t know.” Read the rest of this entry »
2012 has been an awesome year so far.
It seems to be the year that the majority of arts groups have hit the tipping point on understanding online marketing, where they now feel really comfortable experimenting. Or perhaps executive directors are feeling more comfortable giving the ok for experimentation.
Either way, the collective knowledge level has risen substantially, and that is allowing us to have deeper, higher-level conversations as a sector. It’s a wonderful thing!
There is a dark side to this experimentation that I am seeing pop up more and more—organizations will launch a new marketing channel, get busy with other things, and then forget about them. But these new, forgotten channels still pop up on search engines, patrons go to them, and then are disappointed to find no recent updates. That can easily send the wrong message to your patrons.
I’m all for experimentation—it’s ok to try out something new, and you should be—but in the case where a new channel is abandoned, it can really dilute the brand. I recently worked with an arts organization that had twelve—count ‘em TWELVE—Facebook pages. And they only knew about seven of them.
Most of them were set up by well-meaning volunteers, or now ex-employees, and if you did a search on Facebook for this organization, you wouldn’t know which page was the “real” page. We heard reports from audience members who were very confused about which one to connect to.
I like to think that a new marketing channel is like getting a new puppy. That puppy needs attention—it needs to fed, watered, played with, and cleaned up after. It’s a big responsibility, and you should really know you want one before you get one.
To continue this metaphor, you may want to borrow a friend’s puppy first to get to know the lay of the land before deciding if that new puppy is the best for you.
It is easy to be attracted to the “newest, greatest thing” in regards to social media or other online marketing channels. And if you’ve got the time, set up a new account and play around. Read the rest of this entry »