The Many Hat Hooks of an Arts Marketing Blog Salon

Posted by Alison French On October - 5 - 2012

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.

The Many Hats a Successful Blogger Needs to Wear

More so than any label, I would say all our bloggers are Supreme Storytellers. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Organizations and Community Management

Posted by Kevin Clark On October - 5 - 2012

Kevin Clark

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 »

What’s Actually Keeping Your Audience Away?

Posted by Sara R. Leonard On October - 5 - 2012

Sara R. Leonard

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?

Sadly…wrong.

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 »

Direct Mail Still Works (Better Than You Think)

Posted by Will Lester On October - 5 - 2012

Will Lester

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.

Trust

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 »

Lessons from the Ballpark

Posted by Doug Borwick On October - 4 - 2012

Doug Borwick

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 »

Data Mining: Digging for Nuggets to Make Pricing Decisions

Posted by Jenifer Thomas On October - 4 - 2012

Jenifer Thomas

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:

  1. Is the box ticket price too high?
  2. Is our perception of the value of a box seat too high?
  3. 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 »

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.”
“Great!”
“We want to cultivate a more diverse audience, especially younger people, and we want to do it authentically.”
“Fabulous!”
“But our traditional audience doesn’t come for that, and we have to find a way to do this without making them uncomfortable.”
“Hm.”

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 »

Using Sound to Build Engagement and Brand Equity

Posted by Adrion Porter On October - 4 - 2012

Adrion Porter

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?

One word…Emotion.

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.

Along with the peacock, the NBC three-tone chimes are the network’s brand assets. Read the rest of this entry »

5 Suggestions on How to Build a Loyal and Happy Audience

Posted by Shoshana Fanizza On October - 4 - 2012

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 »

Arts Technology: How Do We Know We Should Add The Next Best Thing?

Posted by Ron Evans On October - 3 - 2012

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 »

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 »

A Moving Picture is Worth a Million Words

Posted by Katherine Mooring On October - 3 - 2012

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 »

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 »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.

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