Tag Archives: audience development and follow up

Laziness will not build an audience

This week has made many of us grumpy.  There have been so many shutdowns and mismanagement highlights in the news.  During a conversation with an arts colleague, I posed the question, why do these management mishaps happen?  Is it laziness?

We talked about how many of us keep on keeping on, but perhaps without thought to why we are keeping on if what we are doing is not working.  Is this due to laziness?

I know ego could be an answer as well, but let’s not go there and assume it is laziness.  We have become too lazy to do what we need to do to get out of our ruts, and most of us are in a rut.  It takes time and effort to get out of this rut.  We need to be willing to put this sweat equity in or we are not going to be as successful as we hope to be.

Here is a list of reasons why we have become lazy in managing our arts businesses:

  • We don’t evaluate what we are doing enough – I went to a workshop about evaluation.  Evaluation should happen before, during and after an event or program.  We need to know what is working and what is not.  We also need to ask ourselves if what we are doing is necessary and if it fits with our missions. Otherwise, we are wasting a lot of time, effort, money and other resources on something that may not be producing results.  When’s the last time you evaluated what you are doing?
  • We don’t prioritize – After evaluation and getting rid of what doesn’t work, it is good to prioritize what is left on our plates. What really matters?  What needs to get done first?  This takes some thought, time and effort, but it is worth it to know that your energy is going to what is going to matter the most for you and your audiences.
  • We don’t slow down to get it right the first time – Yes, I need to work on this one.  We are all rushing around trying to get millions of things done in a short amount of time.  Many of us wear a multitude of hats.  Evaluating and prioritizing can help, but we also need to slow down to make sure we are working effectively.  My friend said she forgot to sign a thank you letter, and this letter went to someone she knew.  Did her friend call her on it?  Big YES!  It made her friend feel badly that not only was the letter not signed, but there wasn’t even a quick note to say hello.  Admit it, how many times have you sent an email out with a mistake you could have caught if you slowed down by a few seconds.  This is happening more and more these days due to all the hectic, hyper communication we are doing.  Think about slowing down.  It will help with your sanity too.  ;O)
  • We don’t follow through – From signing our full names at the end of emails to providing links and other helpful information where it counts, we are not following through to give our audiences the necessary information to take the next step.  There have been many times I have received emails that did not have proper contact information.  I couldn’t call them even if I wanted to, which in some cases, I did want to call.  When we send out social media without the extra links, it becomes a wasted effort.  Your audiences can’t buy tickets or get more information without these links.  Let’s start following through!
  • We don’t follow up and build relationships – So many times I see programs initiated, but after it is all said and done, we don’t follow up with these audiences.  We are not building relationships with people.  Instead, we stick with sending out more mass marketing messages and doing programming and business practices we feel is best, because that’s the rut we are in.
  • We keep thinking in terms of, this is the way it is has always been – Is it working?  Have you filled the house and sold your art shows out?  Time to rethink and put energy toward new ways of doing business.
  • We don’t have the time to deal with something new – Go back to evaluation and prioritizing and you will find the time and resources you need.
  • We don’t know how to change – This one is interesting since there are consultants, workshops, seminars, webinars, etc. that are attempting to teach us how to make thoughtful changes.  People are not showing up even when they declare they need this type of education.  ?!

For someone that has been advocating for audience development, which is a new way of managing an arts business, all of the mentioned above does make me and my fellow colleagues a little grumpy.  We are sad to see so many shutdowns.  The “laziness” will lead to more shutdowns.

Is it laziness?  Or is it an unwillingness to change? 

Let me know your thoughts. 

PS Yesterday, I did a shout out for Thomas Cott and his You’ve Cott Mail for my Giving Program month. Sign up with him for themed arts news.  I am still thinking about today’s gift.

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

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You want to build an audience? Follow up for arts audience development

I’m still on semi-vacation.  In my time off, I have again come to the conclusion that one of the biggest reasons artists and arts organizations are having trouble building their audience is due to poor to non-existent follow up.  We are dropping the ball.

  • We are not returning our customer phone calls in a timely fashion.
  • We are not following up after the show to connect again with our audiences.
  • We are not asking the right questions on our surveys to get to know our audiences.
  • When we do get data, we are not implementing programs from what we have learned about our audiences.
  • We are not thanking our audiences sufficiently.
  • We are not connecting with them enough to ask them if they would like to become supporters.
  • We are not communicating with them adequately to create two way conversations.
  • We are not being clear about our support needs, and we are not giving them ample options on how to support us so they are more comfortable to give.
  • We are not checking in with our audience members and supporters.
  • We are not making a big enough fuss over our volunteers, donors and sponsors.
  • We are not building relationships with them before, after and during our events.

Some of us are doing better than the majority.  I think the big reason for the differences are the follow up skills.  Good customer service, the ability to show you care for your audience members, and the genuine desire to get to know your audiences and have them become your partners can make a huge difference.

If you want to build an audience, and a happy and loyal one at that, start following up and see what happens!

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

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Audience development – follow up needed for visual artists

I am back from vacation and have been waiting for the next topic to come to me.  As I was having dinner with a colleague, the discussion turned to the lack of audience development for visual artists, or rather visual artists are not using audience development.  The conversation continued with my thoughts about how visual artists typically conduct business, and the main component that is lacking is building relationships after an initial connection has been made.  Many artists know how to market their events now.  They do get people to come to their events; some of them do quite well with numbers in the door.  If you want to get to the next level, a successful art business, you need audience development.

Perhaps visual artists are not as people oriented as other types of artists, but learning to follow up can be the single skill that will build your audience.  Let me give you some personal examples.

I visited about 10 different artists during our Open Studios tour last year.  I was interested in finding some new art to liven up a blank space area I had in the hallway.  I narrowed it down to about three artists I really enjoyed and had art within my budget.  After some thought, I chose my top artist.  I arranged a time to purchase after the event, had a brief conversation, signed her guest book, and went home happily with my new paintings.  The artist has my phone number, address and email.  She has not followed up with me.  As far as the other 9 artists, none of them have contacted me either, despite having my basic contact information.

The second scenario takes place at another art studio tour event.  I was very drawn to a particular photograph.  Unfortunately, the artist did not have the size I was looking for.  She said she could make it available in the size I wanted. I gave her one of my cards so she could contact me.  The event took place in June, and I have yet to hear from her.  Perhaps since it was my business card she hesitated, but maybe follow up was not a part of her business plan.

The third example, I happen to have many artist friends.  Some of them have new shows happening in the area.  Not one of these friends has sent me an invitation to their event personally.

Jazz by Linus Maurer (not what we purchased)

Lastly and definitely the best example, when I was in the Sonoma County area, I came across the Gallery of Glen Ellen that exhibits works of Linus Maurer.  When you think of Linus you think of Charlie Brown’s best friend.  This is the real live Linus, Charles Schultz’s friend and colleague.  We were not able to purchase one of the main paintings, but we did purchase a small drawing out of his drawings bin.  The gallery owner told us to give her our address.  Linus, no matter how much money the drawing/painting is, will respond with a personal note.  I was skeptical, but we did give her our address.  Lo and behold, about a month later, Linus wrote us a personal message with another little drawing, thanking us and wishing us much enjoyment of our new art piece.  Our names and specific art piece were in the message with his signature and date.  There is a drawing of him creating the drawing we purchased.  It was amazing!   I was completely blown away, and we are on hunt for our next Linus Maurer! Funny how despite the recognition Linus already has, he was the one artist that did follow up with us.

I am finding that it is very rare when an artist does follow up. I know that visual artists (and artists in general) rather spend their time in the studio working on their art.  The day to day business tasks are not what makes them tick.    However, if you want people to enjoy and purchase your art, if your art is for others and not just for yourself, meaning you want to share your gifts, then connecting and following up are crucial.  You want to automatically follow up with people especially if they show you they are interested in your work and most especially to thank them after they have purchased.  It’s a no brainer.

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

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