Audience Development, Venn Diagram Edition

Posted by Nina Simon On October - 4 - 2012

Nina Simon

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 »

Planning Your Marketing Mix

Posted by Jennifer Hubbartt On October - 3 - 2012

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Younger generations would find this procedure outdated.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 »

How Does Memory Work? And Why Should Marketers Care?

Posted by Clayton Lord On October - 3 - 2012

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 »

What Marketing-Development Collaboration Really Needs

Posted by Jill Robinson On October - 2 - 2012
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 »

Digital Myths, Lies, and Three Steps to Recovery

Posted by Adam Cunningham On October - 1 - 2012

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 »


Posted by Rick Lester On July - 19 - 2012

Conventional wisdom: A higher price (P1) results in a lower quantity sold (Q1), whereas a lower price (P2) results in a more sales (Q2).

Harry Truman famously expressed a desire to consult only with “one-armed economists.” Our 33rd president wasn’t fond of counsel that began, “On the one hand, this…” and was followed by “On the other hand, that…” Truman wanted straight talk without equivocation.

So, here is a bit of economic straight talk from the data vaults of TRG Arts. Forget everything you learned in that Econ 101 class you took in undergraduate school. You can also forget what you learned at business school. It doesn’t apply to tickets.

Competitive Freedom

Conventional wisdom holds that higher prices reduce demand. For instance, in the consumer universe of unlimited hamburger availability, McDonald’s will sell many at $1.00 and many fewer at $10.00. And, at $100, demand goes to zero.

But, supply and demand curves do not apply to the world of selling tickets.

Those curves depend upon an “open market” of goods and prices. Corn, wheat, and hamburgers are sold in huge open markets. There are vast numbers of buyers and sellers who are free to compete for the exchange of goods and services.

Price subject to desire.

This condition of competitive freedom does not exist when selling tickets.

For example, nonprofit organizations are run by volunteer boards who set, approve or use their clout to influence prices—prices that these same board members pay when they attend the performances presented by their organization. That’s just one reason why the best seats are frequently undervalued. Read the rest of this entry »

P.S. You’re Serving the Minority: How to Keep Up With the New Majority

Posted by Anette Shirinian On June - 12 - 2012

Anette Shirinian

After attending Salvador Acevedo’s session, The New Mainstream: How Changing Demographics Are Shifting Your Community, at our Annual Convention in San Antonio this past weekend I learned that there are already five minority majority states in the U.S., and they’re not little.

California, Texas, New Mexico, District of Columbia, and Hawaii all currently have less than a 50 percent White population. This is a huge shift considering that America’s population was about 90 percent White up to the 1970s. It has since declined to 60 percent and continues to follow this pattern. The Hispanic population on the other hand is growing rapidly with an estimated 167 percent growth by 2050 (142 percent Asian, 56 percent Black, 1 percent White).

How does this affect the arts?

Well it proses a huge problem when less than 50 percent of our nation’s population is White, yet your audience is 70–90 percent White. As Salvador said, “we must diversify our audiences, otherwise we will become irrelevant.”

As “prime vehicles for intercultural understanding” (my favorite quote from the session), arts and culture will not survive if it does not reflect our population as a whole. So how do we prevent ourselves from becoming irrelevant?

You must practice what you preach. The change must start internally within your organization before you can start to diversify your audience. Salvador calls this the “intercultural strategy.” Read the rest of this entry »

Have you ever wondered if it’s worth your time to start that Pinterest page for your organization or business? Is it important that you know what Digg is?

Thankfully, has pulled together a fantastic infographic that will help you determine if Facebook is better for your message or if you should hurry up and start that Twitter account.

By gathering social media demographic info and putting it together in an arts-friendly way (a solar system of social media info), you can take a quick look at the social media universe and then decide if you’re on the right path or if you should be heading toward another orbit.

Here are some facts I gleaned from the resource (as posted on Mashable):

  • FACT: Facebook users visit the site 40 times per month and average over 23 minutes on the site per session.
  • OPPORTUNITY: That creates an opportunity to really engage with Facebook users. If you can get an article or link to your site on a Facebook user’s newsfeed at the right time, you will have them hooked…for at least that day. A study covering 2007-2010 Facebook use says that the peak use time is Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. ET and daily it is at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. ET.
  • FACT: 82 percent of Pinterest users are female.
  • OPPORTUNITY: The arts are already female-skewing, but if you want to reach out further into the demo, you’ll want to sign up for an account and try it out soon.
  • FACT: 71 percent of Google+ users are male and 43 percent are single men.
  • OPPORTUNITY: The arts are already female-skewing, but if you want to reach out to older, single men who may bring dates, girlfriends, and/or mothers to your gallery or performing arts center, you might want to dabble and see where Google+ takes you. Read the rest of this entry »

What Every Junior Board Should Know

Posted by Jess Kaswiner On April - 4 - 2012
Jess Kaswiner

Jess Kaswiner

On February 28, Emerging Leaders Network Chicago hosted a wildly successful panel conversation and networking event simply titled “Junior Board Mega-Mixer.”

Weeks before the event, we had over 50 RSVPs and 7 local sponsors, including Changing Worlds, Steppenwolf Theatre, Urban Gateways, Snow City Arts, Auditorium Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, and Links Hall.

Our dedicated ELN team worked swiftly to spread the word, sharing the event announcement via email, Facebook,, and word of mouth. Participating panelists—including junior board chairs, general-body members, and representatives from sponsor organizations—weighed in on what it takes to incubate and sustain a successful junior board.

Below are seven key takeaways from this event, in addition to a few additional creative suggestions and how to host your own junior board mixer.

1) Efficiency is key – Young professionals are very busy between work, play, and volunteering. When planning your meetings, always send an agenda ahead of time.

2) Be nimble – Although your organization may have a very clear idea of what you want the organizational structure to look like or what type of events you want your junior board to plan, it’s important to first evaluate your capacity. As Dana Adams of Urban Gateways mentioned, “Think about the type of event YOU enjoy attending, and go from there!” Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping It Simple in a Jargon-Filled World

Posted by Chavon D. Carroll On April - 3 - 2012

Chavon D. Carroll

Have you ever tried to explain why the mirror fogs up in the bathroom when the shower is on to an inquisitive five-year-old? If so, you’ll quickly realize it’s not as easy as you’d think.

It’s one of those processes where you understand exactly how it happens and why, but explaining it in simple enough words to a child who has absolutely no idea or reference point is much harder than you would first think.

I’m often faced with this conundrum in two completely separate roles in my life—as a mother of a five-year-old daughter and as a donor marketing officer for the Arts & Science Council (ASC) in Charlotte, NC.

As odd as it may sound, those two jobs often require some of the same skill sets.

I won’t go into too much detail about my motherhood responsibilities (another day, another blog), but in my position at ASC, I’m often tasked with taking our jargon-filled massive amounts of facts and supporting statements and translating it to donors and potential donors.

It’s not exactly what it says in my job description but in a nutshell, it’s what I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Tweeting Your Way to a Better Conference

Posted by Tara Connolly & Marshall Rollings On March - 20 - 2012
Tara Connolly

Tara Connolly

The Southern Entrepreneurship in the Arts conference (SEA), an initiative of the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center (NCEC) in partnership with national group Self Employment in the Arts, was at a turning point. As we planned the third annual conference for February 2012, we knew this would be our “make-it-or-break-it” year.

Having seen a drop in attendance and revenue during the second annual conference, we needed to regain the momentum we cultivated during the first annual conference, which attracted nearly 300 attendees from nine states to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) to participate.

Marshall Rollings

Marshall Rollings

We reworked the conference structure and partnered with a regional arts initiative, the Tri State Sculptors Association Iron Pour, hosted at Sculptor Jim Gallucci’s studio, to incorporate the event into pre-conference reception. We knew SEA 2012 was packed with diverse content and value. But could we reach and re-engage our target audience?

We increased marketing across multiple channels with support from Opportunity Greensboro, The Coleman Foundation, and Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff. Additionally, two weeks prior, we arranged a “live tweet” for the conference, which surpassed our expectations and helped to generate more buzz before, during, and after the conference.

On February 11, 352 people, including 198 students and 107 artists, gathered at UNCG for the third annual SEA Conference to share entrepreneurial strategies and resources to help emerging artists become successful in their careers and to network among students, emerging artists, working artists, business professionals, and community organizations. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Your LinkedIn Profile More Marketable

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 6 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

In another of my “spring cleaning” posts (where I’ve collected a great resource, but haven’t had time to share it on ARTSblog yet) blogger Jeff Haden gives six steps toward making your LinkedIn profile more marketable.

Unlike Klout, which I haven’t figured out what to do with so far, for me LinkedIn is more about my professional side, so I don’t have it connected to my Twitter account and I certainly do not post the same inane things I tend to share or write about on Facebook. I only accept invites from people with whom I have already worked or would like to in the future and are in the same field/field I’d like to eventually join.

But how do you use LinkedIn to help you network and create better connections to the people who use it? Here are Jeff’s steps:

Step 1. Revisit your goals. At its most basic level LinkedIn is about marketing: marketing your company or marketing yourself. But that focus probably got lost as you worked through the mechanics of completing your profile, and what started as a marketing effort turned into a resume completion task. Who you are isn’t as important as what you hope to accomplish, so think about your goals and convert your goals into keywords, because keywords are how people find you on LinkedIn. Read the rest of this entry »

Put a Little Gaga in Your Marketing Strategy (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Tim Mikulski On February - 22 - 2012

Tim Mikulski

As I continually seek new information to contribute to our various electronic and print publications, I come across a ton of info that I want to pass along to the field, but they end up sitting on my desk waiting as other topics or projects rise to the top over that information.

In light of that, I thought this blog post can serve as an early spring cleaning (we definitely haven’t had a real winter in D.C. this year) of some of the marketing content I’ve been holding onto.

These two items are from Fast Company, a publication I highly recommend subscribing to if you are looking for different ways to address technology, design, or business issues within your own organization—particularly in the marketing realm.

When it comes to personal branding, an article from early January discusses five steps to building a better personal brand:

1. Have a home base online. While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent destinations to promote what you do, make sure that you also invest time and energy into your own personal website. Whether you take advantage of easy-to-use tools such as Squarespace or WordPress, a simple and clean online home for all your professional information and social streams is a necessity.

2. Be a better blogger. Although online pundits regularly declare that blogging is dead, such as Jason Calacanis did at a tech conference toward the end of December, blogging has simply become much more diverse. It’s no longer necessary to write multi-paragraph posts (but of course, that’s why you still come to ARTSblog), but instead services such as Tumblr make it easy for individuals to share shorter entries or snippets of text that often include photos and other multimedia. A weekly blog update (or more frequent if you can afford the time) that includes some shareable content is a useful way to drive traffic back from social channels to your website (and to establish yourself as an expert on a topic). Read the rest of this entry »

A Standing Ovation for Clever Branding (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Laura Kakolewski On February - 8 - 2012

Laura Kakolewski

As an arts marketer, I made sure to pay particular attention to the commercials during the Super Bowl.

Although a few stood out from the rest, Twitter helped me discover what I believe to be the smartest Super Bowl commercial that (unfortunately) only aired in Canada.

Before reading any further, take a few minutes to watch this matchless Canadian Budweiser commercial that I found straight from the twitter feed of Scott Stratten (@Unmarketing), author of UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging, and keynote speaker at the 2011 National Arts Marketing Project Conference:

In my opinion, Budweiser Canada deserves a standing ovation from the world of marketing and advertising. Read the rest of this entry »

Stop the Patchwork (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On January - 25 - 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

Our patchwork approach to providing arts education has gotta stop!

I recently read an article about a school that won a $25,000 contest by HGTV to redesign their arts room, and it actually left me upset. Why, you ask?

The short answer? I’m tired of the band-aid approach. The stop gap measures.

It’s the same reason I had to stop watching Oprah’s Favorite Things and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For every deserving person that is honored on these shows, I know someone who is just as needy and just as deserving.

As I watched the following video about makeovers, I couldn’t help but wonder if that money could be put to better use:

What would I do with $25,000? Read the rest of this entry »