Monthly Archives: May 2010

Audience development and the name game

Name (from dictionary.com): –noun

1.a word or a combination of words by which a person, place, or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known.

When we are born, one of the first tasks of a parent is to name their newborn.  Parents usually put much consideration into naming their children.  There are books and websites with a plethora of choices because names have meaning, names are an identification for a lifetime, the choice is important.  At times a name can be a cherished heirloom handed down from generation to generation, our namesakes are special to us.  Our name, in one sense, is a brand for life.  We can change our name legally, but most of us become attached to the name our parents give to us.

Well then,  how does a name relate or translate to audience development?  One of the 4 C’s of audience development is “Caring,” and the quickest and easiest way to show you care about your patrons is to make sure you know their name – to remember their name, how to pronounce it and spell it correctly.  Learning someone’s name is the beginning to building relationships with people so it is important to get the name right.

I have been posting every once in a while the audience development tip of the day: learn their name and make sure you spell and pronounce their name correctly.  I thought it was time to finally expand upon this so there is no confusion as to why this seemingly common sense tip is a big deal.   Let me give you a few examples.

When I was a box office manager, actually in any of my sales/customer service positions, I made it a point to get to know my customers and to learn their names.  One day during a major subscription drive, we were dealing with close to 500 different patrons.  One of our patrons preferred to come in to renew his subscription.  I had met him after one of the concerts the year before.  I greeted him with, “Hi Bob!  Are you here to renew your subscription?”  He looked at me in awe and exclaimed, “Wow!  You remembered my name!”  We went on to have a conversation about his programming tastes, and I helped him choose the best subscription for him.  I also found out about his main hobby, which translated into a nice item for our silent auction later in the year.  This conversation, subscription sale (an upgrade from his original plans), and his increased involvement via a silent auction donation all occurred due to the fact that I remembered his name!

In terms of pronouncing and spelling names correctly, I will share another personal story.  With so many communications coming at us, our name spelled incorrectly is an easy filter to not bother with that piece of information.  My name, Shoshana, is often mispronounced and misspelled.  Most of the time it can be quite amusing, but at times when people are approaching me to ask me to become more involved or to donate, I am not amused.  Most people aren’t.  If our name is misspelled, we zone in on it and feel a little slighted.  If I see an ask letter from an organization that has misspelled my name, I tend to recycle those requests without opening.  If someone continually mispronounces or gets my name wrong, I tend to not want to be supportive with their request.  You see, if you do not care enough to get the name right, one of our biggest identifications in life, then it is showing that you do not care about the person.  The person will not want to donate or become more involved if you are unable to get the easy task done of spelling their name correctly.   Not spelling their name correctly will show that you only care about what you can get from the person.  If you have name mistakes on your list and they are not corrected, it is communicating that these people are only a number to you.  Names matter due to our identification with our names.

Getting someone’s name right is important in any form of communication.  Misspelling a name in an email or even a Twitter DM will be noticed by the person.  The person can communicate that you misspelled their name, but if you become savvy to the error, don’t be shy and apologize for the error.  It will show that you do care enough to notice and correct.  Our names are important to us.  Let’s show others we care by getting their names right!

It may take some time and energy, but a great way to connect with your patrons is to simply pick up the phone or send a more personalized letter asking them for proper spellings.  When you are meeting people, take the time to not only learn peoples’ names, but how to properly pronounce them.  Learning someone’s name correctly can open the door to bigger and better opportunities.  If you do not have a good memory for names, you can use little mnemonic tricks such as associating something about their physical appearance with their name.  Getting someone’s name right shows that you care, and they will be more interested in you and your communications (your needs) in return.

So the next time you are doing a mailing or meeting people, play the name game.  You will get extra bonus points for getting the name right!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising, Volunteer coordination, Volunteer Management

Top 3 excuses I hear for not attempting audience development

I have been hearing a variety of excuses why some organizations and artists are not using audience development.   In this blog, I would like to take the time to provide answers for the top three excuses.

1. I am an individual artist so I do not need audience development.
Audience development is for anyone and everyone that needs support.  If you need a fan base, volunteers, donors, patrons, board members, people to help spread the word, you need audience development.  Audience development is about building relationships with people that will want to support your art.  It is about building positive people energy, or a community, that will surround your art to help you build more support.

2. I do not have the money or capacity to implement an audience development plan.
Most people do not realize that audience development helps build funding and capacity to support your art form.  The real problem here is that there is a need of shifting from old methods to newer methods.  If you were to take a look at what you are spending your time and money on, I am willing to bet that you will find old methods that are not worth funding or spending time on anymore.  Then you can shift these resources to an audience development plan that will build more support and start you on a more successful path.

3.  I already have marketing, why do I need audience development?
If you are in need of a bigger and better audience, then perhaps marketing alone is not working.  Marketing is about hoping to target individuals that will want to take part in your art.  Audience development is about learning who these individuals are, reaching out to them, and building relationships with these people that you know will want to take part in your art.  I hope you see the difference.

I see there is a need for education, so I am attempting to complete my book by this December.  I am also available for workshops, seminars and phone sessions.  Please feel free to get in touch with me when you are ready to take the audience development plunge!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Audience development for the arts community – time to open up and share

I’m working on a juicy blog for the future.  In the meantime, I have been thinking about how challenging it is to get people to talk about audience development, yet everyone seems to have questions.  So why is the arts community as a group shying away from major audience development discussion?  Here are my thoughts:

  1. People are afraid to speak up.  One reason may be that they do not want to appear like they have any issues.  Another reason may be that they are afraid their idea will be stolen.   I believe that if you are too closed to sharing, you won’t be open enough to receiving.  Also, if the idea is truly yours, only you will be able to establish it with your own style, which will make it unique no matter who tries to implement it.  Remember, we have nothing to fear but fear itself (thank you Roosevelt and Thoreau)!
  2. Maybe we do not know as a group where to go to discuss these issues.  I at times get DM’d on twitter asking a specific question about audience development.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an entire community helping each other out with these problems?  Here are a few places you can ask our community:
    • On twitter, I am attempting to use the hashtag #auddev to post great articles and to share fabulous ideas.  Maybe we could use this hashtag to ask and answer questions about audience development.  Then we would have a place to not only centrally ask a question, but to find some amazing answers.
    • I have started a LinkedIn Group, for the same reasons, and you have more characters to use for your post.  Please feel free to join the group and post your questions and advice for others.  This board can accommodate numerous discussions at once.
    • If you are located in Chicago, there is a group called Arts Engagement Exchange – A Network To Build Chicago Arts Audiences. They have included a discussion board on various audience development topics, an easy way to work with your peers on new ideas.
    • Your local arts alliance may have discussion groups to join.
    • I will post more as I find them.  Please comment if you know of an arts group discussing audience development.
  3. We do not collectively have the perception that everyone can be successful and instead have a competition mentality.  This might fall into the fear category, but I feel it is a point that needs to be addressed separately.  I see groups afraid to collaborate due to this mentality.  We can keep viewing each other as dog eat dog, but wouldn’t it be better to view each other as resources for support?   The choice is ours.
  4. We don’t have time to talk about audience development since we are busy people.  This seems like a catch-22.  We don’t have time to discuss audience development which is an important issue to each and every one of us?  Maybe we need to make some time or look at our priorities so we can find this new support for the arts, our very own arts community.
  5. This point could get me in trouble personally, but in general, we need to stop attempting to rely on experts for all the answers. Audience development is about building support through relationships.  This means as an arts community, the biggest audience development ideal is to communicate and support each other.
  6. We aren’t used to looking wide and far enough. It would be good to start viewing the world as our oyster.  In terms of the next best audience development idea, this idea can come from anyone, anywhere!  Of course you need to evaluate every idea with a grain of salt.  What may work for you and your audiences may not work for someone else and their audiences.  But just think, we would all have a better chance of finding what is best for us if we are all willing to keep our eyes open and share ideas, drawbacks and successes.
  7. Last point, maybe some people in our group do not know what audience development really is.  If you have questions, please remember that there are no stupid questions, only people too dumb not to ask (is there a softer way to put this?).

We can learn from each other the best practices for audience development.  I am a firm believer in you get what you give too.  If you are in need of advice, perhaps it is time for you to help someone else to get the ball rolling.  So, go out there and share! I am here and hear to help.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, Audience Development

Arts saturation point and audience development

I had been reading the article in the Ottawa Citizen:  Where have all the theatregoers gone?

The article takes on the question after a theater run that was supposed to run 5 weeks closed one week early due to not enough audience.

The problem seems to be that while Ottawa theatre companies have been springing up faster than revelations about wannabe lobbyists, there aren’t enough audience members, and especially new ones, to go around. Blame whatever you want — competing entertainment, a citizenry too pooped at the end of the day to go anywhere — we don’t attend theatre in the numbers needed to sustain what could be a defining aspect of Ottawa life.

I have been seeing this phenomenon happen right here in Boulder, CO.  Have we hit the saturation point of the arts in ratio to the amount of audience members?

According to the 2000 Census, Boulder County has 291,288 people.  Currently I am counting:

  • Around 10 dance organizations
  • Around 20 music organizations
  • Around 13 theatre organizations
  • Around 18 art/museum organizations and galleries

This is not including individual artists or bands or art venues and associations which have their own events.

Now how many people out of our population actually attends arts events?  The average around the  U.S. has been about 29% according to NEA’s
State and Regional Differences in Arts Participation: A Geographic Analysis of the 2008 SPPA

We need to break it down further.  Average percentages for these individual disciplines in Colorado:

  • 3% for dance (average ballet and other)
  • 8% for music
  • 12-13% theater (average musical/non-musical)
  • 22% art museums and galleries

So for theatre in our area, if we do the math, we have close to 37,000 people that would enjoy seeing a theatre event.  We have 13 theatre organizations competing for those 37,000 people.  If all were to get a fair share of this segment, there would be a little over 3,000 people per theatre company and most companies average 5 shows per season with 3-6 runs per show.  A further complication is the fact that someone who enjoys the theatre might also enjoy dance or music events.  Now imagine the scheduling problems in our county.  You could end up with a weekend that has 3 or 4 theater productions, 2 or 3 dance productions, 3 major benefit events, and 2 or 3 big music events.  Visual art events seem to pop up all year round, and they are plentiful!  Suddenly 3,000 people (assuming you are getting your full fair share, wink, wink) are not enough to fill houses.

So do you think that the arts may have a saturation problem where arts are a-plenty?  How do we deal with this growing problem?  We have come into the day and age that people want to put on their own show and start their own arts company.  Many people want to be the creator!

I feel that audience development is the answer to this challenge.  Remember the 4 C’s of audience development:

  1. Connection – you need to get connected to the people that would enjoy your event/art.  Make the extra efforts to build relationships!
  2. Collaboration – maybe it is time to consider bigger projects by collaborating.  These projects will attract a larger audience that will benefit all involved.
  3. Community – the arts need to begin acting like a community.  Perhaps a community calendar could be set up so it helps alleviate the problem of too many art events scheduled at one time.
  4. Caring – since there is a competition factor, wouldn’t it make sense to care a little more about your audience and your art?  Implement ways that show that you care: create high quality art and engage with your audience regularly.

If an artist or organization takes the time and effort for audience development, the saturation problem won’t be as much of a factor.  Audience development is about building relationships with people, not numbers.  It is about creating a happy and loyal community around your art.  With audience development, you can thrive in any condition or situation that you come up against!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Filed under arts advocacy, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development

Audience development is team work!

There have been times when an organization is quick to blame the marketing department for a poorly attended show.  However, a marketing associate can do everything right, but still not get results if they are the only person or one of a few promoting the show.  There needs to be a team effort involved in spreading the word.

I have worked with many different artists and organizations over the years.  I have seen how different they are.  However, they all have the ability to achieve if they have a team effort behind them.  It didn’t matter how many advertisements they placed or how much publicity they received.  You will only get a small percentage of your audience this way.  The biggest reason audience members attend an event, look at a website, or purchase art work, is if they hear about it from a friend or family member or if they happen to know the artist or someone in the organization personally.  Best results for audience development is when there is a more personal connection!

It really is not the marketing associate’s fault assuming they are doing their job well.  If an artist or organization lacks the power of people behind them, they will not be a big success.  There is only one exception.  If a product is absolutely one-of-a-kind amazing, perhaps the buzz will be created by complete strangers, people that took a chance and were so excited about the experience they had to tell others.  There has been a common message lately, to create exceptional, exciting art.  This ideal can bring in an audience.

On the flip side, I have seen quality art go unnoticed with events minimally attended.  If the quality is there, it either must not be an over-the-top amazing experience or the artist or organization did not have a team effort.  Organizations without an energetic, healthy board, do not succeed long term.  Artists without a team behind them will not be as successful.

The best investment an artist/organization can make is to create a people power bank and invest time and energy to filling this bank with people that want to help them succeed.  It really is people energy that makes the world go round. People energy, team work, will bring out the best in your audience development plans and help you to build a community of support for your art.

Team work is an important component to building success long term for the arts in general,  and it is necessary for building happier and more loyal audiences for you!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
~James Stewart

New Services!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!  Special: $25/hour through the month of April.

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development