Tag Archives: audience development and artists

The Knights Who Say Niche for arts audience development

niche

noun

1. an ornamental recess in a wall or the like, usually semicircular in plan and arched, as for a statue or other decorative object.
2. a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing: to find one’s niche in the business world.
3. a distinct segment of a market.
4. Ecology . the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.
adjective5. pertaining to or intended for a market niche; having specific appeal: niche advertising.

All Monty Python kidding aside, I would like to see more artists and arts organizations say niche.  I was looking at a theatre organization’s website yesterday, and despite the photos and marketing jargon being of a unique quality, the description and the overall look and feel of the organization did not separate them from everyone else.  In a time where it seems like there is an arts organization born every minute and a deep ended pool of individual artists of all kinds, having a niche should be mandatory.What makes you unique or different could make the difference in obtaining the right audiences for you and your art.  Taking the time, money and energy to create your niche brand is the best way to put your money and hard work to good use.  You can still be a theatre, orchestra, dance company, visual artist, film organization, etc., etc., without being exactly like another.  People will still recognize the type of art that you do, and they will also recognize why you are special in our world of art.

Take a look around you.  What arts brands stand out for you?  What arts organizations and artists grab the spotlight and are gaining the best audiences for themselves?  I assure you that these are the organizations and artists that are part of the fantastic group of The Knights Who Say Niche!

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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3 ways for artists to make friends with arts audience development

 

 

I was having a conversation with a friend about artists and our resistance to doing the work we have to do in order to build our audience.  Many of us view the audience development/marketing side of our businesses as boring and that “thing” we “have” to do that takes our precious time away from creating our art.  Yet, if we want a following, time and effort must happen.  However, my friend and I thought of three solutions for us artistic types to make friends with audience development:

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses.  If you truly do not have the time or the desire or the ability, hire someone else to do the audience development work for you.
  2. If money is an issue, find an intern that is eager for the job experience, yet has enough knowledge about connecting via social media and email marketing to do positive work for you.
  3. Or, learn to make this part of the business fun for you.  I know of an artist that created a board with the names of the people that have purchased her artwork. It’s artsy and functional.  She will, according to her time plan, choose one of these people to send an email or note to in order to build a relationship with them.   Over time, all of the people on her board have been connected with.  There are many other ideas for incorporating your art into a business task.  You can use your creative brain to come up with solutions to help you accomplish your business tasks while keeping in mind your desire to be artistic.

If there is a will, there is a way.  You only have to decide if you want it bad enough. “It” being a successful arts business!

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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Your focus matters for arts audience development

I missed posting this thought for Monday Moment so it will have to be a Timely Tuesday post.  Your focus matters when considering audience development.

This concept may sound a little new agey to some of you, but I am a firm believer that what you believe in and what you focus on will be what comes to you.  You know the saying, “If you know you can or you know you can’t, you are right.”   I also love, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

To me this means that if you are a “yes, but” personality or always looking for what is going to go wrong, you will probably be right.  The people that are focused on building positive connections with people and have the will to create programs that will build audiences, and will do whatever it takes to make this happen will probably succeed.   You can either pick it apart or build it up.  These are your choices.

There are so many excuses out there and so many fears of going in a different direction.  Your chance for succeeding in building your audience starts with your focus.  If you think you don’t have the time, the money, the people, then you will be right.  If you think you can make the time, reallocate the money and find the people you need, you will also be right.

What’s your choice? 

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.

***Purchasing my book will help support ADS and our mission.***

My eBook

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

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Personal Branding is Changing Audience Development for the arts

Welcome Wednesday has arrived!  I have another special guest blog post to share with you.  Today we will be considering personal branding with marketing and theatre strategist, Clay Mabbitt.  After reading Clay’s blog Sold Out Run, I found him to be quite thorough when he explores a topic.  Personal branding is becoming an extremely important factor and it can be a game changer as well.  The days of solely relying on others to promote your art, to promote you as an artist, are vanishing before our eyes.  Artists and arts organizations now have the opportunity to become savvy in promoting themselves.  In some cases, it is absolutely necessary to show that you have a following.  Personal branding is the first step to self promotion and to building your audiences. In order to build relationships with new audience members and grow your following, you will first need to show a sense of who you are, what you are all about.  Taking time on this step can ensure that you will attract the right audiences from the start.

Please do share your comments below.  Enjoy! 

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Personal Branding is Changing Audience Development
by Clay Mabbitt

A few months ago I heard an interview with a television actor. He mentioned studios had a minimum number of Twitter followers that any actor needed in order to be considered for certain starring roles. The details escape me. I don’t remember the actor or where I heard the interview, but that idea stuck in my head.

Television studios, who are hyper focused on rapidly establishing a large audience for all of their projects, place a lot of value on the strength of the personal brands they attach to their show. They value it so highly that it even affects casting decisions.

Studios are looking exclusively at performers bringing a strong, established audience to the table. Certainly number of Twitter followers isn’t the only measure of a celebrity’s reach, but it is a pretty good one. It represents a group of people who have gone out of their way to signify they want to give their extremely valuable attention to that actor.

You have a brand

We typically think of a brand as something belonging to major corporations like Coke or Disney, but it’s useful (particularly in arts marketing) to think about the personal brands we all have as individuals. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the spotlight or behind the scenes.

Steven Spielberg has a brand. Lance Armstrong has a brand. Your kid’s 5th grade teacher has a brand. Literally everyone has a brand because that’s just a label we give the collection of assumptions and expectations people have about you – whether they’ve personally met you or not. Hopefully their preconceptions are original and accurate, but they always exist.

This is nothing new. Centuries before anyone thought of the term brand, we talked about someone’s reputation. The big difference being that a reputation is typically something that people determine about you based on your actions. Your brand certainly includes your reputation as people make judgements about what you do, but it has the added ingredient of what you say about yourself.

If you want to be known as an excellent cellist, the first step is to put in the necessary practice to master your craft. The second step is to tell people you are an excellent cellist. That doesn’t necessarily mean bragging (although it could), but it definitely means talking about your passion for the cello, your favorite pieces, conductors you’d love to work with, musicians you admire, and symphonies you’ve heard. With more subtle (and likely more persuasive) words you establish an identity as a musician that people can identify with and feel affinity towards.

No brand is too small

A few decades ago, the only means of sharing this kind of information about yourself were major media outlets like radio, magazines, and television. If you weren’t a nationally recognized figure, you didn’t have a big enough audience to justify the cost of any of these channels.

That isn’t a valid excuse today. The cost of setting up a website or an email newsletter is trivial. If that technology is too daunting, start developing your audience on Facebook or Twitter. If you can reach 10 people, the endeavor has paid for itself.

Leverage your connections

Adding subscribers to your newsletter and getting social media followers isn’t just an exercise in vanity. You are building relationships with people that care about what you are doing and like you. This is the audience you want.

When tickets become available for one of your shows, let these good folks know. Remember they raised their hand and said they wanted to stay informed about what you’re up to.

Not everyone in your audience will buy a ticket to every show, but you don’t want that ever to be because they didn’t know it was happening.

Most of us are swimming in a much smaller pond than network television. We don’t need to bring 100,000 Twitter followers to the projects we join, but the technology now exists for us to economically bring 100, 50, or even 10.If everyone involved in your next performance – both onstage and offstage – practiced the brand development described above, it would completely change the dynamic of the audience.

Not only would tickets sell faster, but the house would be filled with people that walked in already having a connection to the performance because they were emotionally invested in someone’s personal brand.

Even better than a large audience is a large, engaged audience. [:O)]

Clay Mabbitt is a professional marketing consultant and part-time actor. He can’t stop his brain from coming up with ideas and strategies for promoting theater productions, which he posts on his blog.

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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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Entitlement and arts audience development

Last Friday I blogged about some of the reasons why arts organizations succeed and some reasons why they are failing.  I hinted at the big elephant in the room, but for this Monday Moment, I will come out and declare it!

One of the biggest reasons arts organizations are failing is due to the feelings of entitlement.  We have gone through centuries of feeling that the arts are supposed to be supported, and in many cases have rested on this laurel.  We have forgotten how to do the good old fashioned work that results in successful arts businesses.

I am not meaning that we have become artistically lazy, although in some cases, we could cut back on offerings to ensure that each program is a true winner in terms of quality.  In regard to how we are running our businesses, we have become a little lazy.  Boards are not raising as much money.  Staff are falling back on measures that do not offer top quality customer service.  Individual artists have turned to complaining that they have to do the work.  Our marketing is lazy since we create the same tired marketing in the same tired ways that no longer get results.  The creativity for fundraising has almost gone out the window.  We mostly continue with the same old events, annual asks, etc.

We are artists.  Most of the arts administrators are artists as well.  Instead of feeling entitled, maybe it is time to finally use our artistic savvy and roll up our sleeves to become creative again.  It is time to connect again with our patrons on all levels.  It is time for the artists and arts administrators to act as a team again where we all work at audience development.  It is time for all of us to learn new ways of selling an event instead of relying on our tired ads, same old marketing copy and misplaced energy and money on other energy-less efforts.

Many organizations do have the amount of staff needed to turn everything around.  They also have the amount of money to reallocate to new efforts.  The fact that older, established, and well staffed organizations are going bankrupt means that they are, or had been, suffering from entitlement issues.

If you really want a well functioning arts business, you have to do the work.  For the smaller organizations and individual artists, this also means building a team of volunteers to help you do the work.  No one has to do all the work alone.  Everyone can build a team to work with.

We are entering the age where authenticity is going to be attractive, especially since there are more people on this planet that are clamoring for attention.  In many locations, we are saturated with arts offerings.  The competition is fierce for audience, for grants, for donations, for sponsorships…

So, if you want to be successful in this atmosphere, entitlement is not the way to go.  Good old fashioned hard work and audience development is!

PS  This is a general observation, and I am happy to report that there are some artists and organizations that are working hard, being creative, and seeing some fantastic results!

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 funding, arts management, arts marketing, Audience Development, Fundraising

Stream of consciousness and audience development

The reason you may not be getting an audience is the fact that you may be trying to fit your round peg in a square hole.

The typical _______business is not for you.

You don’t want to talk at people, but with people.

You are a creative trying to fit in a business world.  Yet, you are not using creativity to do so.

You could be doing interesting projects, not the same old, same old.

Life isn’t about making money.  Arts should not be about making money.  It doesn’t work this way.  The money comes as a result of passion, of joy, of creating, of giving, of sharing.

You’re lost because YOU is lost.

The boring reality of the behind the scenes is not for you.

Without the behind the scenes though, you are only a front without substance.

There is so much blah, blah, blah in the world.  In order to cut through, you can’t be blah.

A creative needs to be creative.

No creative will last without being creative.

The arts need to stop resting on traditions.

We used to reinvent ourselves regularly.

What if Mozart composed the way he “should have” in his time.  Would he still be Mozart?  What if Magritte didn’t remain true to himself?

Transformation is needed, otherwise there would be no butterflies, only caterpillars.

Money comes to those who are useful and/or innovative.

In the arts, we need to be useful and/or innovative.

Promote the benefit of the benefit (from Tribal Knowledge: Business Wisdom Brewed from the Grounds of Starbucks Corporate Culture by John Moore).

Be who you are, not what others want or expect you to be.

Drop the mask.  Honestly you is refreshingly attractive.

Boldly go where no one has gone before. ;O)

Connect, Collaborate, Care and become a part of your Community.  Islands, in time, will sink.

Creating in a vacuum sucks!

Give a damn about you and your audiences.

Deliver what they want, but only if that is who you are or who you want to be.

Break down to break through.

Don’t you want to be special?

There’s an identity crisis in the arts.

“Silver Platters” are shiny objects.

Back away from the shiny objects and roll up your sleeves.

What is worth it is worth working for.

What do you really want?

Do you want to share?

Do you want an audience?

Are you open to being open?

Are you down with being down?

You can be up again if you are up for the challenge.

Closing down is an option.

Bankruptcy sucks!

What are the risks worth taking?

You have to want it bad enough.

Be the change you want to see.

-SDF

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Audience Development and sexed-up arts marketing

I wasn’t planning on blogging today, but I read an article that had my mind buzzing:

Sexed-up arts marketing campaigns a rip off

Xenia Hanusiak, a composer, performer and music reviewer wrote this opinion.  Here are a few excerpts to discuss –

When we are promised ”the experience of a lifetime”, or ”a night of passion” and neither manifests, is there recourse? And if so, from whom do we seek it?

I have to agree with her here.  Unless the show is so amazing that we talk about it in the future, maybe we need to be more honest with our marketing.  I can say as an audience member that I have been hoodwinked more than my fair share taking a chance on these “experiences of a lifetime” hype and instead getting a mediocre production.  These performances are entertaining to pass the time, but they aren’t necessarily full of passion.  The arts need to be upfront about the type of experience they are sharing.  Not all performances and art are going to be mind-blowing, but that is okay.  The art is still worth sharing, but perhaps we need to package it for what it is instead of using language that oversells and deceives.  I’m guessing the problem is that every artist thinks their offering is the “greatest” or the “most spectacular” art that is being offered.  Perhaps we can use our audiences to get some honest feedback before we start promoting to the general public.

In the arts, offering proof before making a claim is a difficult proposition. We are, after all, in the business of subjectivity – one man’s passion is another’s poison. What’s more, in contrast to the commercial market, where product launches and marketing campaigns often go hand in hand, arts marketing is prospective. It is not unusual for marketing, with images and text ranging from confronting to salacious to divine, to arrive in subscription booklets six months before the creative team even sets foot on the rehearsal stage…

So, is using scantily clad models for your opera subscription false advertising when they won’t appear on stage? Is promising ”the greatest show on earth” or ”the experience of a lifetime,” an unsubstantiated claim?

I’m curious to hear what you think about this.  I do feel we need to be a little more responsible in how we sell our offerings.  Even though we do not have an organization that regulates our marketing, this should not mean that we don’t have an obligation to sell our art in an honest light.  Think about the audiences that are getting duped.  They will feel the old bait and switch has happened to them.

Or take the practice of misrepresenting from reviews for marketing purposes. All too often, the following occurs. A review reports that the entertainment at hand has all the ingredients for a thrilling night, but the production fails. Marketers cut and paste the single word ”thrilling”, magnify it on rooftop billboards and splash the out-of-context word on full-page advertisements.
I am in total agreement here too.  Taking a review out of context is distasteful and can ruin your reputation even more than a bad review.

Many similarly pernicious marketing trends exist, but my biggest gripe is the recent trend in classical music to popularise its product like a pop experience. This, in my view has been one reason for the public’s ambiguous response and falling attendances.

The disconnection promotes a disingenuous relationship. Why not take the road of it’s ”the real thing”? It is, after all, centuries old, it will never be hip – so represent it for its authentic self and perhaps people will respond. Arts marketing that promises to make Lady Gaga out of Beethoven doesn’t just mislead through hyperbole. It disrespects artistic authenticity.

This is where I part ways with her line of thinking.  I do feel that the classical music world needs to package the experience in ways that are relevant to today’s audiences.  If Mozart were alive today, do you think he would have settled for the same old boring classical music wrapping that we have been producing for decades?  Heck no!  He would have been a creative “pop” sensation in all that he did to sell his music.  The “real thing” can be “hip again” if we showcase it the way it was originally meant to be showcased.  You see, classical music was only put in a stuffy wrapper after the elite highjacked the genre.  Before then, the classical composers of the day were the rock stars of the day and they would perform for everyone and anyone.  They were flashy in their own way.

Classical music can be exciting again. I get excited when I see Beethoven produced in a more modern fashion.  It’s still the same amazing music that it will always be, but if it is performed in a way I can stand up and cheer, which some movements deserve that type of response, I bet more diverse audiences will be able to relate to it again.  As I mentioned in the past, traditions are only traditions because “we” make them so.  Change the traditions then!

For the most part, I agree that we need to be responsible for the marketing that we put out there.  I understand that you think you need to super hype it up in your marketing language to attempt to get an audience these days.  However, there will be more harm done to our industry than good if we continue to not present our art with more honesty.  Audiences will start to take “sensational” to mean something more mediocre.  “The once in a lifetime experience” will become the “last thing I want to attend again.”

This means, there is no replacement for high quality art.  If you have something that is high quality, something buzz worthy, this is when it is completely okay to “sensationalize” your marketing, because it will be the absolute truth and nothing but the truth.

What do you think?  Please feel free to comment by leaving a reply. 

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

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