Monthly Archives: May 2012

Audience development for the arts: TEAMWORK (Or you cannot leave social marketing just to the marketing department)

I hope you had a nice weekend!  After walking a 10k, I wasn’t able to post on Monday, but I will be back on Friday with my typical plucky commentary.

It’s Wednesday, and I have a guest blog post for you as promised.  Today, my friend and colleague, Howard Seth Cohen, submitted a post about social marketing teamwork.  I agree wholeheartedly that social media tasks should not be left to the marketing department alone.  It’s called social media for a reason, right?  Please do give us feedback on how you are conducting your social media for your organization.  What is working for you?  What is not? 

Here are Howard’s thoughts, and I hope you agree too.

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TEAMWORK (Or you cannot leave social marketing just to the marketing department)
by Howard Seth Cohen

As arts organizations look to the social web to engage past and future audiences, the one massive misstep they can make is to think that the only way to engage is through an official channel, e.g. a theater company’s Facebook page.

An ‘official’ Facebook page or Twitter account, while important, can get bogged down in two different ways:
1. The posts and shares and activities can be hampered by the illusory need to stay on brand, and a feeling that each post must be precious, perfect, and on point.
2. When you keep your online activity confined to an official channel, you are only speaking to an audience that is already aware of you and your mission.

Your goal on the social web is to interact with new audiences just as much as it is to reinforce your relationships with your current group of supporters.

The social web of today is just like word of mouth marketing used to be before our telephones became portable and morphed into pocket computers. You want to activate a wide swath of supporters to spread your message for you, in attractive bits of snackable content that reach out to new people- potential audience members that are outside of your current social circles.

You cannot control how someone else uses social media, so simply inviting someone to an event, or emailing, or posting to your page’s wall is not sufficient. Posting to social media once is never enough. If your goal is to reach everyone, you must constantly post so that a relevant message is shared on someone’s wall when they choose to be on line.

The best way to do this is to think of your entire staff as a TEAM of promoters…
Keep the ‘carefully thought out on brand message’ for the official page, and then have everyone, from your interns to board members to guest artists to creative team posting regularly.

Train your team to search for and engage with each other’s posts (re-share, like, and comment on them.) This way, you game the Edgerank algorithm into thinking that your content is important enough to share with more people, and become a Top Story.

Your organization has the power to utilize social media to foster growth and create a larger community of like-minded people ready to support your mission. But you cannot forget that the first word in “Social Media” is SOCIAL. Now is the time to engage your entire team in a thoughtful effort to increase your visibility online. Support in joining social networks, and learning how to create effective posts.

Unfortunately, arts organizations are usually overburdened with production duties, and effective, subversive promotions like this that take time and concerted effort to achieve are never implemented. But they should be.

Understanding that you have to be where your audience is should incite action to engage with them on the social networks where they spend their free time. Communication through social media is the norm for your audience’s demographic. If your current attempts are not effective, it does not mean that social media is not the right place to find your audience… It may just mean you have to reassess how you are reaching out to them. Rethink your social engagement priorities to utilize the social networks your staff already has at their fingertips.

When a team works together to expand their reach, the true power of the social web can create word of mouth that consistently drives new eyes to your content, and eventually your productions themselves. [:O)]

Howard Seth Cohen runs Thomas Hampton Reviews, a free service that helps artists and producers create great looking pr tools. He creates social strategies for online promotions as lead consultant at socialservicesLA.

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Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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How to live an audience development for the arts life…

Happy Friday to all!  Today I have been thinking about the philosophy behind audience development, which is living a life of the 4 C’s: connecting with people, being a part of your community, collaborating with others, and showing you care about people.

You never know where people are going to be in the future.  The waiter that messed up accidentally while serving your order, the one that you yelled at in a fire alarm fashion, could be your boss in the future.  The driver that you curse at on the road could be a potential donor that you meet later down the road.  The customer that you snub during a busy time since they are not one of the top patrons (your rationale) could win the lottery next week.  Do you want to build good relationships or bad relationships?

Again, you never know where people are going to be in the future.  Circumstances change.  This means that applying the Golden Rule and being kind to all people could benefit you further down the line.  Also, if you do not act kindly, you are leaving a bad taste in someone’s mind which could haunt you later on. Let me give you another example.

Some of you may know that I am applying for a PT job to attempt to stay afloat.  I had applied for 3 promising jobs in the past month.  All three of these organizations are non-profits in our area.  Only one of these jobs has notified me about their final decision.  The one that notified me, I did not personally interview for the position.  In her email, she mentioned that 50 people had applied for the position.  She took the time to send a message to the other 49 people they did not select.  I actually emailed her a thank you since this is a rare thing to do these days.  I appreciated her taking the time to treat me like a fellow human that took time out of my life to apply for the position.  You bet that I will continue to rave about this non-profit organization!

The other 2 organizations, the ones I actually interviewed in person, I am still waiting for a reply, even after I had emailed them a thank you and a follow up email asking for an update on the positions.  I do feel this is a bad practice in terms of business relations and future audience development.  I may not have such a great opinion after being snubbed in this fashion.  I don’t think any non-profit can afford to create bad relations, then why are they doing so in this case?

Yes, perhaps I am feeling a little personal about this situation, but there is a grain of salt behind the story.  You see, I could have been a supporter to these organizations, regardless of whether or not I landed the job, but due to being ignored and unappreciated, I’m not feeling supportive feelings.

What you do today, how you care and support others in your life has an impact.  If you ignore, snub, or make people feel bad, that might be what you receive back in the future.  You could be supporting or hurting a future audience member, a donor or sponsor, or a volunteer or potential board member.  The choice is yours.

On the plus side, I received a hand written thank you note from an organization I volunteer and fundraise for.  They took the time to care and be supportive to me by thanking me personally.  Now that is how to live an audience development for the arts life!

What do you think?

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Filed under Arts, arts management, Audience Development

Random thoughts on current events: audience development for the arts

Our next guest blog will be next Wednesday.  Today I have a few random thoughts due to current events this week.  This week we have seen the GM over at the Metropolitan Opera hiss at another review outlet, we have seen a major consultant for our industry disregard the rule of confidentiality when posting on Huffington Post, and there have been some wonderful audience development ideas floating around the country that were implemented.

  1. The Met reverses policy, will allow Opera News to review productions http://t.co/yn6TiJgf

Wow!  Talk about elitism at its worst.  “Allow” to review?  The GM has an issue with less than positive reviews, so he decides to axe a critic’s right to review if they do not meet his standards.  This is a poor choice of arts management on so many levels.  We need more journalism, not less for one.  If journalists continue to feel the wrath for simply doing their job, they do have the power to not cover you, period.  Plus, not having open opinions to our art work would actually harm us more in the end.  Let me expound quickly on this point.

Let’s say we do quality work for the most part, but we get a bad review on a particular performance or event.  We can use this review (with a grain of salt) to discover how we can become better for our next performance or event.  We need the feedback to continue to strive to be better.   Without this honest feedback, we are missing out on the complete artistic process.

Plus, you can honor the fact that any review is simply one person’s opinion and not the end all or be all for audience attendance.  Use the review to your advantage by getting a variety of opinions to create some buzz.  A controversial review could still catapult you to a bigger audience.  Be smart about working with journalists and critics.  Being demanding is only going to get you a bad reputation and more bad press.

2. Kaiser & the Cardinal Sin of Consultancy. http://t.co/4MExjM9L

My friend and colleague, Amy Wratchford wrote a blog for #2amt about Kaiser’s consultant faux pas.  I commented after this post to give my view of the situation.  These are my humble opinions.   Let me know your thoughts on this issue too.  For the record, I have always valued the arts commentary of Michael Kaiser, so I was very much surprised to view this particular post.

3. Foodies and music lovers unite! Listen to a Clip From Harvard’s Asparagus Opera http://t.co/6RbOgpYg

UK virtual orchestra puts you in conductor’s stand http://t.co/9C9Zy4NX

New outlet offers tickets, info on zoo, ASF, museum events in downtown Montgomery http://t.co/B567eBy0

These are three fantastic ideas that I have had in the past, but others beat me to it.  I now have positive evidence that ideas are floating all around us.  Some of us may be more in tune to these ideas than others, and it becomes a matter of who decides to implement these ideas for their benefit.  In all three of these cases, there are elements of all 4 C’s at hand, especially Collaboration.  In order to gain a better audience, a more fitting audience, it is best to collaborate with others and work on creative projects that will connect you to your community.

So there you have it – random thoughts on current events in our industry.  Please do feel free to reply if you have any random thoughts of your own.  A Wonderful Wednesday to you and yours!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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

Why wasn’t I invited? Audience development for the arts

I haven’t been online that much this weekend.  I needed some time away to recharge my batteries (as well as the batteries of all my iStuff).  Today, I was looking at ARTicles and discovered that our Mahlerfest happened this weekend.  I had no idea!  I knew that this local festival was in May, but I completely did not see it on the radar.  I happen to be a big Mahler fan.  I am a horn player after all.  I have even gone to a past Mahlerfest.  Why wasn’t I invited?

I am a slightly younger audience profile than their typical audience member.  These are the reasons why they missed me this year:

  1. I do not buy a newspaper.  Sorry newspaper industry, but I usually get my information online.
  2. I did not see any online ads, so I had no idea.
  3. I had bought my ticket at the door the year I went.  They did not have my information from that transaction.
  4. I did not see any posters around town.
  5. Despite knowing a few people involved with this organization, I did not receive an email about it.
  6. The free weekly I usually pick-up was not available at the locations I went to over the weekend.  So if they placed an ad here, it was missed.
  7. They didn’t reach out to other organizations to collaborate. I was involved in a classical music event a few weeks ago.  A trade would have alerted me to their festival.
  8. Perhaps they don’t have an ambassador program to spread the word around town.
  9. They probably do not have an audience development program to get to know the people in their area that enjoy classical music, and more to the point, people that love Mahler.
  10. Your guess here…

You see, I fit the profile of someone that would enjoy their concerts.  I am directly in their area.  I am involved in the arts community, and more specifically, the classical music community.  I have even been to a concert in the past.  Without audience development, all the yesteryear marketing in the world did not reach a younger generation potential audience member like me.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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When to start audience development for the arts

I am still looking for new guest bloggers.  In the meantime, I wanted to consider the “when to start audience development.”  This is a big issue for me.  To continue my transparency previously originated, my phone is not ringing as much as I hoped it would.  I see an industry that can benefit from audience development, but perhaps many artists and organizations do not know if they need it or when to start.

In my days of full time marketer, I knew that it is always a good time to do your marketing.  There is a practice of placing “top of mind” marketing to keep your art and organization fresh in people’s minds despite not having a current event.

Like marketing, the time for audience development is now and always.  It is always a good time to incorporate audience development programs so you can build relationships with your audience members.  The time to start is now (or actually, yesterday).

I have already asserted that audience development is for all types of artists and arts organizations.  I want to now encourage that it is for all levels too.  No matter if you are a start-up business, a business that is in trouble, a business that is doing well, or a business that is in the middle of the extremes, audience development is for you!

Building relationships using audience development is going to produce increases no matter where you are on your business journey.  The only realistic reason audience development may not be needed is if you have seriously tapped out all of your possibilities and you have reached your ultimate potential.  I have yet to find an organization that is in this position, but feel free to correct me by posting a comment.

I will continue to shout out about audience development to educate (and with hopes that my phone will ring more).  Right now I am considering my options for ADS.  I am so grateful to everyone that has supported me up to this point in my business journey.  I will be posting my decisions soon, but while I am in my re-evaluation stages yet again, I hope my consistent shout outs and posts about audience development will motivate you to start your audience development planning now if you haven’t already.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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

Is audience development for the arts the answer?

I have noticed that when I post tweets about arts organizations that are going bankrupt, I always tag it #auddev needed.  I know some people are questioning this and feel it better to attribute the downfall of these organizations to simply bad management.  Why would I continue to shout out about audience development?

To me, audience development is not just a method or technique of arts management, but an entire philosophy about how to run a business today.  In an age where crowdsourcing and social media are popular, the days of us dictating art are no longer valid.  Our business models of producing, marketing and fundraising without thoughts of our audiences are unraveling.  It is not wise to fall back on old business practices, and instead, it is better to be creative, engaging and involving with the people around us.

Some of us believe that the invention of the light bulb changed the arts from inclusive to entitled.  Elitism crept in to the point that the (benchmark) arts are not perceived as for everyone.  All of a sudden, the masses are not supporting the arts, and we have tiny niche markets that have developed due to this, well, development.

Audience development, true audience development, can change the way an arts business functions due to one very big reason.  Audience development is inclusive and focuses on partnering with audiences.  It is a team philosophy that not only includes everyone on your staff, all your volunteers, donors and sponsors, but it also includes your audiences.  This means that everyone will be on the same page working to support your business.

For producing and marketing, this is far different than simply placing an ad that professes (from your spinning marketing team) that your show is “something for everyone!” “spectacular!” “other marketing byte here!”  Instead, when partnering with your audiences, you can incorporate their perspective beforehand instead of attempting to sell something that they might not enjoy in ways that will be ignored.  A flop from the start is rather expensive to work with.  Wouldn’t it be better to produce something that has more promise?

In regard to fundraising, your audiences will help you to raise the money since they are a part of your team.  Your board members and staff will now have added energy to keep them going too. Everyone that is a part of your team will be helping to raise money for your business.  This team mentality for fundraising makes more sense than the “we are great, give us money,” shouted by a few people, views of old.  Plus, with all the people power combined, you can brainstorm new ways of asking for money.  Let’s face it, annual campaign letters have become trite and disposable.  You need to turn some heads and inspire some hearts!

I do hear one concern which I will quickly address. I am not saying that the audiences are now in charge.  You still have artistic license and the ability to create your own strategic plans.  The difference is, you will no longer be creating in the dark after knowing your audiences.  With this philosophy, you will be able to take more risks and produce new work that will have more of a chance of being successful. Your programming, marketing and fundraising can become fresh again.

If you are squeamish about this new way of producing art, and you rather be the sole creator without any feedback, perhaps use audience development to build the right audiences that will enjoy your art – find the best audiences for you!  Please do use audience development for your marketing and fundraising though in any case since you still need a team for support.

So, is audience development the answer? It does sound like audience development can promise the moon and the stars, and in a sense, it can.  With hard work and determination to build relationships and build your team of community support, I see a brighter future for the arts despite the light bulb.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

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Filed under Arts funding, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, fund raising, Fundraising

Top 10 reasons why audience development for the arts might not work…

For today’s Monday Moment, I have been thinking about all the organizations and artists I have had the pleasure to work with.  Through many of these experiences, I have found what works and what doesn’t work regarding audience development.  The following is a quick list for why audience development may not work.

  1. There is no plan  – just like any other goal, you need a plan for your audience development goals.
  2. There is no budget – although many goals can be achieved with little to no money, audience development is worth investing in.
  3. You do not have a team – if you are still relying on your marketing director to do all the work when it comes to audience development, think again.  You need an entire team working together to make positive increases happen.
  4. You don’t do the work – I have seen some organizations have a plan, budget, a team in place, but they forget that they have to do the work to make the goals happen.  Sounds simple stupid, but I have seen standstills happen due to this problem.
  5. You don’t have all 4 C’s in place – if you are missing any of the 4 C’s in your plan, Connections,  Collaborations, Community, and Care, you are missing one of the big components of audience development.
  6. You are lacking the 5th C, Commitment – it takes time to fully implement an audience development plan which takes a full commitment from the entire team.
  7. You don’t have the patience – audience development, building relationships, takes time to occur.  Your goals need to be long term with patience to see your plan through.
  8. You are still viewing audience development as “butts seats” – this is a short term goal and does not guarantee a loyal, returning and supportive audience.
  9. You are not asking your audiences for support – you need to ask if you want the extra volunteer and monetary support.
  10. You are not treating your audiences as partners – the arts fell into centuries worth of not valuing their audiences’ input.   Audiences want to have input again.  Your audience can give you the feedback needed to make all your goals a success.  All you have to do is to give them the opportunity, start listening, and then implement some of the worthy suggestions.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

FacebookTwitterLinkedin

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

Although we are not a non-profit, if you would like to support ADS to continue our work, you can donate here.

My eBook

New eBook!  The How of  Audience Development for the Arts: Learn the Basics, Create Your Plan

Leave a comment

Filed under arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development