Catering to your patrons – audience development makes cents

Recently, I had a nice weekend getaway when my fiance and I visited his parents up in Keystone.  I did not do any skiing, but what I did do is talk about audience development with his parents.  Both of them are supporters of various arts organizations in the St. Louis area.  During the conversation, his mom gave me some feedback that she had attempted to give to one of the arts organizations.  She told me that the feedback fell on deaf ears.

They like to give annually.  She contacted the organization to tell them to stop mailing her so often, save their money, and only contact them once a year.  The arts organization did not listen and they are still sending out requests to them multiple times during the year.

If you have a patron that has established a giving pattern of once a year and requests a mailing only once a year, you will want to do as they request.  His mom was starting to get fed up with all the mailings and she even commented that she may not want to keep contributing due to all the junk mail.  I’m sure they give a nice contribution each year.  Can this organization afford to keep not listening to their patrons?  What makes more sense is to accommodate your patron’s wishes and save the cost of the extra mailings to be used elsewhere.

A big part of audience development is listening to your patrons and taking action to accommodate their wishes.  If your patrons feel that they are not being well attended to, the way they want to be attended to, they may simply stop being your patrons.  They may also tell others about how badly your organization handled a simple request.  On the flip side, if your patrons feel like you are listening to them and they are content, they are more likely to spread the news about your organization in a positive way and continue contributing.  If you impress your patrons, your patrons will impress you!

Doesn’t this make a lot of cents?

Until next time, may your audiences be happy and loyal ones, and if they are not, feel free to contact me!


Shoshana Fanizza is the founder of Audience Development Specialists. Her mission is to introduce artists and arts organizations to their existing and potential audiences and to help them to form more rewarding relationships.
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