Shoshana Fanizza

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 »

Ron Evans

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.

Starting a new marketing channel is like owning a new puppy. Photo by Indiana Adams.

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 »

Jennifer Hubbartt

Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I shared a hobby with other Generation X-ers: I made my own mix tapes. Simply pop a cassette in the dual tape deck, and tape songs heard off the radio, from compact disc, or even vinyl.

Younger generations would find this procedure outdated. Dead, even. Yet the art of the mix tape isn’t dead, entirely. It is the technology that’s changed.

Now instead of tapes we use playlists generated from sources like iTunes that are synced with iPods or other such devices. Music lovers today simply need to grasp the new tools at hand to make your own mix tape.

The same can be said about the Marketing Mix. I’ve been in the arts marketing field for over a decade, and in recent years I’ve heard variations on a theme. Advertising is dead. Direct mail is dead. Subscriptions are dead. Even Marketing itself is dead.

However, it is also the case that technology has evolved, giving us marketers even more ways with which to communicate the products we have to offer our audiences, test new tactics, and analyze the results. One individual marketing tactic may not make or break your ticket sales as they once had; it is all about your Mix.

The trick is to figure out the tools best suited for your audience, find the right beat, and strike the appropriate balance for your organization’s Marketing Mix, taking advantage of the new tools at hand.

Some points to consider the balance of your Marketing Mix, which has helped my many campaigns move and groove into ticket sales and audience development:

Who is my audience? Who else could we/should we be serving? This can help you make decisions for your price, packaging, and messaging throughout your advertising and social media engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

Clayton Lord

In October 1850, George Upton ducked into a Boston concert hall to hear a young, beautiful blond woman named Jenny Lind sing. Lind, who had made her career as an opera singer in England, was embarking on a U.S. tour, and the frenzy that surrounded each of her tour dates was extraordinary—the “Jenny Lind fever” riled up thousands and thousands of people at the 96 stops she would make down the Eastern seaboard.

Tickets sold for astronomical sums, and in the case of Boston, were oversold, meaning that the people outside the theatre rioted at the idea they would not get to see her. She was the Lady Gaga of her age and was considered to be the best singer of the 19th century by many—a “nightingale,” an “angel.”  Her appearances caused huge congestion—thousands of people would meet her at the station stops along the way.

Upton, 58 years later (!), would remember Jenny Lind “gliding down the stage with consummate grace” with a clarity that bespoke of the impact she had had on him:

“Her voice, as I remember it, was of full volume and extraordinary range, and had a peculiar penetrating quality also, because of its purity, which made its faintest tone clearly audible…her high notes were clear as a lark’s, and her full voice was rich and sonorous.”

Later, he would go on to say:

“I have borne her in my heart and memory across two generations and she remains for me still the one peerless signer I have heard on the concert stage.”

Unfortunately, Jenny Lind died just as the first audio recording instruments were being invented, so in 1908, when Upton wrote down his memories of Lind and her voice, the only residue that remained was what was in his mind.

Her art had transitioned into being only the memory of that art—the ephemerality of her voice having had no place, in those days, to become less ephemeral.

And yet 60 years later an old man at the end of his life could close his eyes and hear her voice, clear audible, crystallized in his mind even as the notes and the woman that sang them had long dissipated into nothing. What power. Read the rest of this entry »

Katherine Mooring

“Charlotte in 2012″ is becoming quite a theme this year, as we prepare to welcome our fabulous arts marketing and development peers from across the country to the National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference in November, just months after serving as the host for the recent Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Our arts community played a critical role in the DNC from day one—not only as a major player in the process that led to Charlotte’s selection as the convention site, but also as primary partners for major events like CarolinaFest 2012, delegate parties, and even The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which broadcast from the stage of our local children’s theatre.

Gearing up for this national spotlight gave our local arts marketing minds a chance to show off the myriad ways we impact and enliven our community like never before. Video emerged as the primary medium for these messages, as Charlotte artists and arts organizations told their stories to new, national audiences in creative and compelling ways. Here’s one example:

From the more formal, host-committee directed promotional pieces, to a visionary, community-side initiative known as the Charlotte Video Project. Read the rest of this entry »

Rohit Bhargava

For Nate Dern, the unlikely path to acting micro-stardom would come from a simple three-letter catchphrase that most people would barely consider a word.

As the artistic director of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York and a sociology PhD student at Columbia University, Nate had spent years auditioning for different roles. In late 2011, he landed a gig acting in a national commercial for AT&T Wireless called “Responsibilities.”

In the ad, a manager-type character dishes out unexpected responsibilities to his team because with their new Blackberries, they can “do more faster.” He tells one worker to upload more pictures of her baby to YouTube. He tells another to make sure and check in everywhere he goes on Foursquare. And he tells the character played by Nate Dern to keep updating his fantasy team – to which Nate replies “huh?”

It’s a funny ad and rapidly went viral on YouTube racking up several hundred thousand of views in a matter of hours. The source, however, for the majority of the early traffic was a site that no one would have expected: Reddit.com.

Reddit is an online link sharing forum mostly used by geeks talking about technology. So why was a community for techies driving hundreds of thousands of views of a funny AT&T ad?

It turns out that one of the active members of that Reddit community was Nate Dern—and as the commercial first aired, he posted this simple message on the community:

“Hi Reddit. After three years of auditioning, I booked my first commercial. I say “Huh?” in this AT&T spot. Just wanted to share.” Read the rest of this entry »

Jill Robinson

Jill Robinson

If so many arts leaders believe that marketing and development departments working together will generate better patronage results, why are so few organizations actually doing it?

To be sure, there are ample tactical examples of successful cross-departmental collaboration on campaigns. And, a few industry leaders are engaging in organization-wide patron development: Arts Club Theatre Company and 5th Avenue Theatre are two I admire.

But integrated patron management is far from being a mainstream practice. Perhaps it’s because true marketing-development collaboration requires change and new ways of doing things that most organizations find impossibly difficult—especially on top of everything else that’s necessary to keep the art on our stages and in our exhibit halls.

Look beyond the challenges toward a starting point.

Marketing and development need a bridge linking their often siloed departments. A couple of management initiatives and tools can build that bridge.

1. Integrated patron reporting. Most arts managers see their season as a string of single-ticket revenue targets, an exhibition with a visitor goal to hit, or an annual fund effort to bring in donations. It’s easy to miss individual patrons’ passion for your art when you are looking at them through the singular lens of individual campaigns.

Take this sample patron history. At first, you’ll mostly likely see it as it’s usually reported, along departmental campaign lines:

To marketing, this patron is a big-time subscriber:

But does marketing know, as the box office likely sees on their screen, that this patron has also been buying extra tickets? Read the rest of this entry »

Aim Higher

Posted by Adam Thurman On October - 2 - 20124 COMMENTS

Adam Thurman

The theme of the 2012 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference is, Getting Down to Business. Here are the questions I want you to ponder:

Exactly what “business” are we talking about?

What’s the point of all this? Why do we invest incredible energy, time, and money into marketing the arts? What is the end goal?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I want you to think about it for a second.

When I ask this question to others, I get a very common answer. The goal is ticket sales, or “butts in seats”.

Here’s what I want you to consider. If all you want is sales, you are setting your ambitions way too low.

Speaking as a guy that has sold millions of dollars in of tickets to the live performing arts, please trust me when I tell you that the desire to just sell tickets (or paintings, or whatever) is the lowest form of ambition.

If you want to make something that just sells go make toothpaste, or porn, or some other thing that people actually use on a daily basis.

This thing, this ART thing, has to be about something more than that. If all it boils down to is an economic transaction where I give you X amount of dollars and you give me Y amount of art then we will always lose in the long run because art is a horrible economic transaction.

Aim higher. Read the rest of this entry »

Laura Kakolewski

There is no question that infographics have tumbled into the world of marketing.

Infographics serve as visual narratives that arrange patterns, relationships, or trends in a creative and visually appealing way. The ideal infographic organizes large amounts of data with art and design finesse, and in the end, a story materializes.

And thanks to social media, infographics have become a popular form of shareable content for brands, serving as an engagement tool for online audiences.

When it comes to the evolution of the infographic, in the past two years, infographics have grown bigger, brighter, and richer in content. For example, compare both the size and amount of data illustrated on this 2011 infographic to that found on the average size of a 2012 infographic.

In my work as an arts marketer, I have experienced this growth first-hand. In designing our e-book, 13 Social Media Infographics Every Marketer Needs to See Volume 2, our primary challenge was fitting the volume of content so that it would match the customary dimensions of the publications our e-book library.

The rise of infographics has also been seen through the development of user-friendly websites such as visual.ly, which has raised $2 million dollars to allow you to create, customize, and share your own infographics easily and for free.

However, a recent Huffington Post article discusses the notion that as content creators, it is a constant uphill battle to create fresh and engaging content that will grab the attention of our online audience. The author argues that “the time has come to take the world of infographics to the next level: video.”

According to the article, content that is in the form of the infographic, a trend that has undeniably been on the rise, will soon be replaced by explainer videos, or “short, actionable and instructive videos that businesses use to quickly explain what it is they do, and how they can solve their customer’s biggest problems.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mary Trudel

Everything we ever knew about the value of authentic engagement is louder, faster, and more challenging.

My partner, Rory MacPherson, and I spend a lot of time interviewing arts organizations about their use of social media to seek out best practices and learn from field exemplars. What I come away with after hundreds of interviews is that effective use of social media is building engagement on steroids!

The best organizations understand that your greatest assets are—to use a Facebook word—your friend relationships with audiences, visitors, fans, and patrons. You can mobilize these groups to help but you CANNOT make those friends in a crisis.

Friends are made on the frontlines through individual experiences that bring fans closer or push them away. We’ve noted 7 important elements of effective engagement which can solidify engagement and make social media mission critical for your fundraising:

  1. Make it Personal + Concrete + Time Sensitive
  2. Connect with Values and Value Connections
  3. Listen and Respond
  4. Answer the Audience’s Question: What’s in It for Me?
  5. Cultivate Productive Partnerships
  6. Measure What Matters
  7. Involve the Whole Organization

Two outstanding examples:

  • Georgia Shakespeare was facing a perfect storm of funding, facing possible closure. The managing director made a personal appeal—not unusual—but what happened next was explosive and exponential. A New York actor who got his start at Georgia Shakespeare sent out a birthday wish—“Don’t buy me a beer for my birthday, donate the price of one to my theatrical ‘birthplace.’” And donations flowed in—$325,000 in 2 weeks from more than 1000 people across the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

David Dombrosky

Over the last few years, I have been paying an increasing amount of attention to mobile technology and its intersection with the arts. Many people in our field hold the philosophy that mobile is the future. I would argue that mobile is the present—it’s where things already are.

If any of you are waiting for a “tipping point” to arrive before you begin exploring how to engage audiences via mobile devices, allow me to gently inform you that you are late to the party.

The point has tipped.

So what are your options?

Participate in mobile-optimized environments
Thankfully, most of us already use mobile-optimized environments to communicate with our audiences. Your Facebook pages and Twitter profiles are presented to mobile users in an optimized format, and your messages on those platforms appear in your followers’ activity streams on their mobile devices—which is critically important given that over 50% of Facebook and Twitter users access their accounts from smartphones and tablet computers.

Develop a mobile website
Whew!  Okay, so at least you have some mobile-optimized content. Now, what about your website? For those of you who have a mobile website, good job. Skip this section. For those of you who do not have a mobile website, I have some questions for you: Read the rest of this entry »

Adam Cunningham

The biggest myth facing digital (and all the activities from social media, advertising, and marketing that fall under that title) is that it is still viewed as something that cannot fully track sales, being incorrectly lumped into the same categories as print, television, and radio.

In reality, 100% all digital activities can be tracked down to a dollar and cent value via 1×1 conversion pixels that can be placed at the conversion/thank you page for any client, selling any product, on all major ticketing systems.

Most verticals outside of the arts have realized this for years, and have adjusted their spends accordingly.

Looking at Lexus (a decidedly “older” car), recent data showed their spend allocation at 50% traditional and 50% digital/emerging technologies. For the always progressive Virgin America plan, 70% went to digital and 30% for traditional. Looking at Converse, 90% of the spend went to digital and content development (which, inevitably, is distributed via digital avenues) with only 10% left for traditional advertising means.

The arts, meanwhile, appear to be hesitant about shifting dollars. Read the rest of this entry »

We Share Awesome

Posted by Devra Thomas On October - 1 - 20124 COMMENTS

Devra Thomas

How do you keep your audiences coming back for more? World-class art? A triple-digit marketing budget? How about making friends with them and creating an awesome experience from the moment they enter your space to the second they exit?

Scott Stratten, in last year’s NAMP Conference keynote speech, said, “We don’t share brochures. We don’t share logos. We share awesome. We share experiences.”

How is your organization crafting the total experience for your audience, or is it? Too often in the administrative world we get caught up in the questions of how we find new audiences and how we get those audiences to give us more money.

Those are valid questions, but exist in the before and after of the actual art experience. As administrators, we need to be more concerned with the “during” portion of the audience member’s visit, as this is the best time to turn them into friends. The customer’s personal experience with our organization does not begin when the lights go down, or when they stand in front of a painting, it begins the minute they pick up the phone to buy tickets or they step in the door for the show. It doesn’t end with the applause; actually, the goal is for it not to end, but to grow into a personally (and, yes, financially) valuable relationship.

Yes, the art itself is of the utmost importance. You don’t go to a restaurant, have a bad meal and exceptional service, and say, “Oh, I have to go there again, the food was awful, but that waiter!” But the reverse is often true: you can partake of a wonderful meal—or show—and have terrible service but go again because the product was good.

Imagine what would be said about your organization if you combined your great art with exceptional service: “I love coming here because you’re all always so friendly.” Or “I feel like I’m part of the family and wanted my friends to meet you.” Crafting an exceptional customer service mindset within your entire organization is the fastest way to start creating those awesome experiences that your audiences will share. Read the rest of this entry »

Amelia Northrup

For decades, the arts industry has chased new audiences, especially younger audiences. Today, that chase is directed at the largest population under 30 years old in human history. It’s little wonder that Gen Y (born 1981–2001) is a hot topic for arts marketers.

As a data-informed member of Gen Y, here’s a take on my generation of arts consumers.

We curate our lives. For as long as we’ve been consumers, we have always had access to Google and Amazon. Search is our way of finding out anything and everything we want to know. We are the generation of the long-tail. This means we have had access to more variety of art, music, performances, and consumer products than any other generation in history.

Because we have access to virtually everything, we take pleasure in exploring the original and local and not just mass-market products and experiences. The data backs this up; an Edelman Digital study found that 40% of Gen Y participants preferred buying local, even if it meant paying more than a mass-market product.

Beyond buying local, the exploration of everything available in the marketplace has led to a culture where we curate our lives. The rise of personal curation—selection of exactly what we want from all that’s available—is evident in the recent popularity of Pinterest.

We spend on what we value. Gen Y is often characterized as cheap. There’s good reason for our cost-consciousness. Gen Y paid much more for college than previous generations and now has record levels of student debt. We face an unprecedented labor market that has offered us more unemployment and underemployment than under-30s of nearly any previous generation.

In light of our generation’s thriftiness, the Edelman study’s spending metric suggest that a cheap price is not our only motivation to buy. Warren Buffet once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” Price and value are connected for Gen Y. Read the rest of this entry »

As the 2012 National Arts Marketing Project (NAMP) Conference: Getting Down to Business quickly approaches, we are taking some cues from creative business leaders, entrepreneurs and change agents. And that is exactly how I would describe our keynote speakers – Rohit Bhargava, Eric Ryan, Nina Simon, and the musical collective cdza:

What better way to kick off a meeting about audience engagement, communications, and revenue generation than with an online discussion with you and 25 top marketing practitioners and consultants in the field?

Join us here on ARTSblog for a dialogue on the broad landscape of arts marketing, technology, and audience development. Bloggers include David Dombrosky, Clay Lord, Jill Robinson, Nina Simon, Adam Thurman, and many others.

From October 1-5, join us as we wrestle with and ponder on such questions as:

•    What new strategies are you utilizing to broaden your audience and build business?
•    How are you using ROI analysis in your marketing campaigns? Read the rest of this entry »