This is going to be an easy one this morning. How do you know if you need audience development? If you still need to build your audiences and you still need more support in the form of volunteers, donors, sponsors, board members, you need audience development. It’s that simple!
It is not a matter of figuring out if you need audience development. More likely, it is a matter of figuring out why you are not doing this already. Is it because you are not certain that audience development works?
When all the right components necessary for audience development are in place- this stuff works! I have mainly worked with small to mid-size organizations with limited resources. When they shifted their resources and energy to audience development, we have seen increases in audiences and monetary support in the range of 30-50%.
In one season, I was working with a mid-size organization that had an average of 1100-1300 audience members per concert (concert hall is 2,052 seats so around 50-60% of house). By the end of the season, the attendance was closer to 1600-1700 with the last concert selling out the auditorium. This was within one season, over 5 concerts, mainly due to the audience development efforts implemented.
A smaller organization that hired me (small staff and budget) went from around 60 to 125 to 275 to 350 to 425 within 2 seasons! They noted that their concert that was the toughest sell over their seasons, which usually yields the smallest audience, is now around 250 people. Their comment was, “If this is our new low, that actually isn’t that bad.” Their new low was their high a couple seasons ago!
I see organizations going under, and maybe there are various reasons why. Despite the reasons, I know that most of the time, when organizations put their energy toward audience development, something special happens which drives the shift to increase. The new philosophy and hard work carries them toward new audiences and additional support.
So do you need audience development? Most likely. When do you need audience development? ASAP. Does audience development work? You bet!
PS I am so glad that there are now other advocates for audience development besides myself, but I also know they are not me with my style. When you finally come to realize that you need audience development, I hope you consider contacting me. With my team of ADS consultants, I know we can help you on the journey to achieving your goals.
Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,
Audience Development Specialists
“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.”
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