Daily Archives: July 16, 2012

10 ways to join the club for better arts audience development

Last week I was on a family vacation at a club resort in Wyoming.  It was an inexpensive way to have a staycation since it was only 3 hours away.  During my time there, I was witnessing all the different tricks of the trade they used to make their guests feel special.  Here is a list of actions you can take to join the club for better audience development:

  1. Hello Mrs. Quenon.  How are you today? 
    Address your guests by name – People respond in a positive way when they find out you know their name.  It is the beginning of building a relationship with them.  Knowing names and getting names right, as you may already know, is a big audience development technique I advocate for.
  2. Would you like a table for 10 or two tables of 5?
    Ask what they prefer – I would liken this to the benefits we have to offer and the services we can provide our audience members.  So many artists and organizations try to come up with what they think their audiences would prefer instead of simply asking to find out what their audiences would really like.
  3. Would you like another ice tea?
    Asking if they need anything before your audience member has to ask you is a great technique.  They will feel that you care about them.
  4. Them: Do you enjoy tennis?  You: No, I like to hike. Them: Here are some nice hikes in the area!
    Offering information that they could use before they have to search for it is a definite plus for audience members.  Plus, you can find out how to cater to your audience member in the process. These offerings are fantastic ice breakers. For example: Did you know that we now have a cocktail hour before the event?   I see you enjoy the Nutcracker, this year we have a collaboration with another local dance company.   Once you find out their response, you can cater specifically to them.
  5. If you purchase 2 golf lessons, you can get the third for free!
    Having a reward for purchasing an extra event on the spot will make them feel you are looking out for their best interests.
  6. Wow!  There are plenty of towels already!
    If you know your audience members usually need something, go ahead and supply it for them ahead of time. For example, you know your audience might get a little warm at your outdoor events – supply them fans to fan themselves (at the cost of a generous sponsor).  Or, if they might get cold during an evening event, purchase some extra blankets in case they forget theirs.
  7. Oh, the Talbots are here this week!
    The club I was at has several families that attend every year.  They post a bulletin of who is coming a going each day.  Wouldn’t it be neat if we knew who purchased your art or who is attending a particular event?  Peer advertising works.  Of course, you will need their permission.
  8.  They have activities for each age group.
    If you have the capability to segment events for smaller groups, you will be catering to each group and giving them an opportunity to relate to their own peers.
  9. Bingo for all! OOOO, they are giving away an iPad.
    Of course, you can also have activities that are for the majority.
  10. Thank you, Ms. Jennings.  I hope you come back next year.  I know you enjoy a good movie. Did you know we have a new movie night next year?
    Thanking them and providing them specific information for their potential next stay is a fantastic way to keep the relationship going.  Getting to know your audience members will help you to choose the best options to hook them to come back for more.

As you can see, having a club mentality can benefit you and your audience at the same time.  So, don’t be shy and join the club!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,


Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists



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

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