Tag Archives: audience development discussion

How to make “free” work now and use the “it” factor later

It

There were two articles that have me thinking more this morning.  The first one, Hidden costs of free tickets by Deborah Stone.

Giving away freebies may not be the best way to grow your audiences but how do you set the right discount?

UK Arts economist Tim Baker told arts marketing professionals at the Australia Council Marketing Summit that they needed to be strategic about the incentives they offered.

Baker, who is Director of leading UK-based arts consultancy, Baker Richards, and Vice-President of its US sister company, The Pricing Institute, was speaking about pricing strategies for arts marketing.

He said free entry was often less valuable than strategic discounting because people took the freebies but didn’t come back. If they paid something –even very low – they were more likely to see the service as something worth paying for and would return and pay more.

Discounts and freebies do have to be handled carefully.  There is a chance that the audience will get too used to discounted prices and take your art for granted.  The fact that free does not guarantee that people will come back is also a consideration.  I recommend reading the entire article since it highlights some of the best ways to promote discounts.

My thoughts after reading this was the simple thought I have had before, free could work if you have a follow up program in place.  Free should not be just about getting people to come and sample, but also for you to build a relationship with them.  Make them feel important by following up and offering them a way to stay connected to you and your art.  I do not see the majority of artists and arts organizations using follow up programs to convert these free (or discounted) audience members into future loyal members.

Also, free could be a fabulous way (I agree with the 2-for-1 strategies) to get your current audience involved in bringing new audience members.  This works on so many levels since your audience becomes more involved (deepening their experience with you) and you end up broadening and potentially diversifying your audience as well (similar and different people will attend).

So, I agree that free can be undervaluing your worth, but if used in the right way, it could bring exactly what you were hoping it would.

The second article that caught my eye this morning was Jade Simmons: Elvis, Meryl & Michael at the Cliburn: The Intangibles of “It”.

The audience didn’t even know this kid, but they loved him, from his stride to his stringendos, even with only one prelim recital under his belt and a long grueling road ahead in the Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. So how come he made them swoon so? Because he had “it,” that thing that makes you like music you once ignored, that makes you cheer when that’s not usually your way of behaving.

She goes on to compare three different performers of the Cliburn Competition, their special qualities, to Elvis’, Meryl Streep’s and Michael Jordan’s “it” factors.

There are a couple reasons why her thoughts have sparked a few of my own.  First, I applaud her ability to connect the dots from pop culture to classical music.  We need more of this mentality to create the relevancy that is missing today.  Secondly, it made me consider the “it” factor further.  It’s not just about individuals with this special quality.  Organizations can also have an “it” factor that makes them hook you.  These organizations stand out from the crowd and apply their “it” to everything that they do.  You feel fantastic working with them!

Perhaps we need to consider what our “it” factor is or how to reveal the hidden “it” factors we possess, bring them out, and make them shine.

Once we are using our “it,” we might not need to discount or give tickets away any longer since we will attract the right people that love our “it.”   Free can open the door for them, and the “it” will have them coming back for more!

Feel “free” to comment about your “it” to share…

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza

Audience Development Specialists

http://www.buildmyaudience.com

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Human algorithms and arts audience development

The latest and greatest idea is the use of algorithms (check out You’ve Cott Mail’s line-up)  to produce suggestions for our audiences based on what they have already purchased.  Amazon and Netflix formats are being worked on underground to become the next big thing for arts websites.  At first I was excited about the possibilities.  Finally, I thought, we will be able to increase exposure to the arts by suggesting more arts that will matter to our audience members!

Today, I am applying the breaks based on a “rebuttal” from Adam Huttler, Fractured Atlas’s founder and Executive Director.  He did bring up the fact that these computer based algorithms could go astray and make suggestions that make as much sense as a ballet purchaser being suggested a grunge concert (although, maybe that would work for some?).

When I was reading the “buts” about the new computer algorithm formats, I came up with a major one myself.  I replied on his blog post and will save some time by quoting myself here:

Algorithms could be quite useful, but in all the hub bub on this brilliant discovery, we seem to be forgetting that back in the day, the customer services, sales, box office staff used to suggest other offerings to their patrons based solely on knowing their audience member’s tastes personally. There are talented people that can serve as an algorithm if they would take the time to get to know their audience members and keep track of preferences in their databases. Old fashioned up-selling should not be ruled out in favor of a computer attempting to fill this void.

Are we again attempting to go by the lazy side and use computers to build our audiences for us?  The last time this happened, the online ticket purchase without needing to speak to or see someone from the arts organization, we experienced patrons falling through the cracks.  And now, the computer algorithm suggestions may not only have people falling through the cracks, but cracking up when the suggestions are ludicrously spit out.

Why do we keep attempting to save time and effort when time and effort is what we need to get back to?  Word of mouth is the best way to build an audience for an event.  We have surveys upon surveys that are proving this.  Word of mouth involves human interaction.  We trust our families, friends and colleagues.  Do we trust a computer interface when it artificially computes word of mouth?  Most of the time we laugh at it because it is yet another inhuman form of mass marketing in disguise.

We need to humanize the arts again.  Good old fashioned interaction – face to face, people to people.  The golden age of customer service can’t come back too soon for us.  People make the world go round.  People energy creates an idea and catapults it into becoming a reality.  I will put my money on the Human Algorithms every time, and if you want to build the best audiences for yourselves, I hope you will too.

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

Please consider supporting ADS so we can continue our work.  Donate here! 

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

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The changing face of classical music for arts audience development

Inspired by the article, The changing face of opera, posted in the Oxford University Press’ blog by Meghann Wilhoite, I give you my first mini-podcast for 2013.

Have a great weekend!

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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Takeaways from the #NAMPC Conference

I wanted to start out by giving you the link to my Storify – My #NAMPC experience via Twitter.  I ended up winning the Most Tweets Award, and I received this fun t-shirt!  I also won by connecting with more people on Twitter and getting to meet some of these people during the conference.  It has been a fun and educational experience for me.  If you had to miss the conference they promised to archive the live keynote presentations soon.

The NAMPC  (National Arts Marketing Project Conference) had its ups and downs, but mostly ups.  However, through the entire conference, this year, like last year, there were some common themes running through most of the presentations.  Instead of a complete play by play like I did last year, I would like to leave you with the my most impressionable takeaways and some of my own thoughts (in no particular order):

  • You gotta have passion – if you don’t, people will not be attracted to your mission, cause, project, program… Without passion, what is the point.
  • Be weird and silly – or in other terms, be true to your own particular self.  It’s not about being similar – it’s about standing out.
  • Adding your own personality will increase your likeability.
  • Have fun!  What makes people want to join?  Fun!  If it is not enjoyable to you, it probably won’t be to your audiences.
  • Everyone is diverse in one way or another.  These are my personal thoughts:  We can learn to reach out to others after we discover our own sense of diversity and understand personally what it feels like to be stereotyped and discounted.
  • Keep ego out of the organization.
  • Visual impact is necessary!  There is so much blah, blah, blah, and not enough “language” of our arts.  If you are a music organization, it would be good to have clips and videos of performances and music.  If you are an artist, make viewing your art an experience.  If you are theatre and dance, videos are a must.  How can people figure out if your art is for them if they can’t “see” it and feel it.
  • The arts are powerful.  The creative arts can differentiate a brand from a competitor.  Unleash the power of the arts and start asking people, “what can arts do for you?”
  • Start studying the psychology behind a purchase.  We are humans with quirky human behavior, and the findings of this type of research can help steer us in the right direction.
  • Give people the opportunity to share and create content that is extra fun to increase shareability.
  • Create programs where the community buys into your art/organization.  They may not know you exist because there is nothing in it for them personally.
  • You can turn your customers into advocates.  Make your mission and passions meaningful for them, and it is more likely they will automatically share with others.
  • There is a paradox: Tension exists – how to relieve the tension?  Find the common enemies, our monsters, and figure out how to solve the problems.
  • If you do not have a social mission, there isn’t a point to social media.
  • Content on social media can be attended to like a magazine – create information that people are interested in and analyze to see what content is relevant to your followers or not.
  • “We are in this together – that’s what arts do – they bring us back to humanity.”  – Eric Ryan, author of The Method Method
  • Get rid of “Yes, but” and instead use “Yes, and!”
  • There is a difference between business thinking and design thinking.  Personally, we need both.
  • What would MacGyver do?
  • Sometimes it is better to present the dessert instead of trying to spoon feed the veggies.
  • Does your audience make up reflect who you are?
  • Have more conversations with different people!
  • Sometimes too many choices make people want to give up.
  • A tangible voucher does better than an emailed discount.  Direct mail can make this work!
  • Giving choices subsequently instead of simultaneously can help people to slow down and make a better choice.  This will turn into higher loyalty.
  • On the flip side though, a quick choice can lead to spontaneous happiness such as the simultaneous choice between carrots and chocolate.  Most people choose the chocolate and enjoy the chocolate.
  • Big gaps between lower and higher ticket prices = more tickets purchased at lower price.
  • Anchor and decoy pricing can lead the consumer to purchase the ticket price you desire.
  • We have a primary error of choosing based on comparing the first item we see.  Use this relational comparison wisely!
  • If only one choice is offered, that also could lower purchases – use joint evaluation by adding at least one more choice.
  • Customers also compare prices with their own experiences and memories of pricing.
  • Rewards are better than punishment.  Reward for purchasing early instead of punishing for purchasing later.
  • Praise is considered a reward.
  • “Benchmark before moving the needle.” – Ron Evans
  • It takes 5 things of right to make up for 1 wrong.
  • The build up stage before an event is super duper important!!!
  • People interact in a variety of ways.  Be sure to provide different avenues of engagement to accommodate.
  • Be relevant to your community, the times, and the people you serve. – Cat video festival was a huge success!
    “Our goal is to focus on the relevance part & the marketing part will take care of itself.”- David Tang Firebird AA
  • Use a team based approach.
  • Outrageous discounts do not increase revenue or loyalty.
  • Have fun with marketing and experiment!
  • Be sure to have objects of social interaction – “Ever notice how dogs attract people to converse with each other? ” – Nina Simon
  • Dogs and cats rule!
  • Funny-arts is a risky business. The arts risk every time art is created. Why are we not taking risks too?
  • We all would do better if we get in touch with our inner artist and create marketing and audience development programs like an artist!
  • Arts presentations need to be more artsy.
  • You need to do more than just satisfy.
  • Product may not be the most important factor – think of Beta vs VHS.  Beta was the better product, but VHS won the competition.
  • Be your quirky self and tell the truth by sharing your outtakes.
  • Bottom line, we need to learn to take risks and then share with others.
  • Personal last comment – share the passion and joy of the arts again and incorporate into all that you do.  People will be able to relate to this.

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

Becoming aware: arts management, classical music, and arts audience development

Oh dear!  The headlines today were not very encouraging.  More orchestras are locked out, one opera company has to shut down until their bills are paid, and the woe is classical music stories keep popping up too.  Yes, we are in the midst of dealing with changes that have already happened, and the classical music world in general is scrambling to get back on track.

In my area, there have been cuts too.  Many of the organizations have downsized their concert schedules to deal with their funding cuts.  I know musicians across the country are not happy with all that is happening.  The musicians blame the management.  The management blames the musicians for not understanding.  It’s a vicious cycle of finger pointing.

I myself am wracking my brain to figure out how orchestras and classical music can start thriving again.  I have already chimed in with my suggested action points.

In the article about the Minnesota Orchestra, the management wants to cut musician salaries and at the same time they are raising money and spending money on a $52 million renovation.  The management views this as accessing support from big donors.  Wouldn’t the big donors rather donate to secure the best musicians for their orchestra instead?  I can see why the musicians are protesting this factor.  Unless the hall was in such a severe state that renovation was imperative, perhaps money that pays the musicians that create the “product” for the organization would have been better raised and spent.

I have been on both sides of this fence.  I have been a musician grumbling that I haven’t been paid enough, and I have been on the management team attempting to secure funding to keep the organization functioning.  An orchestra or opera is an expensive endeavor.  The economy and lowered demand due to the change in times are a downfall to these organizations, but these challenges can only account for part of the deficiency.

If it were up to me, I’d blame everyone!  Not that I want to blame anyone.  The real problem here, as I mentioned before, is the lack of team mentality and lack of functioning as a real nonprofit business.  In times of trouble, all line items need to be evaluated.  All salaries including the management, all fundraising, all audience development, outreach and marketing efforts, have to be looked at with honest eyes.  Priorities for the business need to be established.  For example, the $52 million dollars that was raised for renovations,  I do not see this as a bigger priority than making sure the musicians are paid fairly.  It’s a similar mentality that our country is going through. Our veteran soldiers are not being provided for fully after their duties have ended.  The musicians and soldiers are doing the work.  Are we taking care of them or are our priorities out of balance?  Are we are raising and spending money on the wrong types of initiatives?

I have witnessed some classical music organizations that have decided that one of the top priorities be keeping their musicians happy.  Without the musicians, they reason, there would be no music.  These organizations are still doing well.  The audience wants happy musicians.  Happy musicians provide the concert experience they desire and pay for.  Happy musicians perform better too.  The audience knows this.

I plea for organizations to start surveying their audiences if they don’t believe me.  I once structured a question on my survey to ask, “If you were king of the orchestra, what changes in management would you make?”  We had several come back commenting on how they would like the musicians to be paid fairly.   The audience knew what is going on as much as the supposed behind the scenes management.  In our world of further transparency, paying for $52 million worth of renovations is not going to delight your audiences as much as having top quality musicians to perform the music they love.

I will say this though, coming from the side of management, I feel the musicians now have to be part of the team for reaching new audiences.  Everyone needs to be a part of this initiative. We now need some support for outreach efforts, word of mouth marketing, and other audience development programs to increase audience and demand.  The management is not able to perform these outreach concerts for the musicians.  A management team can only spread the word so far.  It now requires more and more circles of people to spread the word.  The musicians need to step up too, and even volunteer in troubled times, to make the music for awareness of the music to happen.

It needs to be a team effort, all hands on deck, if you want to become a healthy nonprofit arts organization.

So, evaluation of budgets, prioritizing line items, and becoming a team to bring awareness to and further your mission is what it is going to take to be healthy again.  Good old fashioned hard work by everyone!  I hope more arts organizations become aware.

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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Everything needs to be considered for good arts audience development

There is a tiny little debate happening, although it might have been caused by a misunderstanding.  It has been brought up that sometimes we need to look at the programming, if (and there it is, if) the programming is no longer selling.  We also have to look at the marketing messages and branding, the audience development planning (or perhaps lack of), the pricing, the presentation, the placement (dates), etc., etc.  Everything that is a component of the art and selling of the art needs to be considered if an event/work is not selling.

You can’t simply blame it on bad marketing, although this could be the simple answer if bad marketing is at hand and found to be the only culprit.

You see, the world is changing and has changed.  What was in demand years ago is not what is in demand now.  If the art of old was still in high demand, we wouldn’t be having these conversations.  Arts organizations would not be going bankrupt.  The ones that still seem to be in the game are doing more than simply changing their marketing.  They are also changing other parts of the art, like presentation, programming and adding audience development plans.

When it comes to selling art, it is never so simple because art is subjective, not objective.  If it were that simple, we would be able to do all the right things marketing wise and be guaranteed awesome audiences, but sometimes this is not the case.

Programming seems to be a delicate issue since so many people love the art forms just the way they have been for years.  It also depends on your mission and making sure you do not stray from your mission too far.  However, expanding your horizons in programming can be a smart move.  Programming new plays and music, when considered carefully, could appeal to both current and new audiences, and think about how grateful the composers and playwrights of today would be if we did!   Hosting a new art exhibit by an up-and-coming artist may be just the ticket to attracting a more diverse audience base.  Collaborating in new and wonderful ways can make your programming fresh again.  The best combination is adding amazing marketing and even more awesome audience development planning to your well thought out programming.

Lastly, maybe you need to start with your audience to make sure your programming is what they really want too.  Your audience both current and potential will let you know.  In any case, programming along with marketing and audience development planning needs to be taken into account if your arts business is suffering.  You might find out that your programming is not the problem for obtaining new and broader audiences.  You might find out that your inability to expand may be exactly your problem.

Everything needs to be considered now for good audience development.  Everything should be evaluated to find out which part of the equation is and is not working for you.  Devoting to only one piece of the puzzle will not achieve a full and diverse audience.  It most certainly will not help you to obtain a happy and loyal one either.

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

Leave a comment

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

YouTube kinda mood – Broadcasts for Arts Audience Development

YouTube Broadcasts are becoming the next wave of sharing information.  I have been busy this summer doing a few YouTube interviews and being a part of audience development discussions in Google+ Hangouts.  I’m still learning how to get more comfortable in front of the camera so please excuse some of my amateur habits.  Despite how silly I personally might look at times, the content of the subject matter and conversation are worth sharing.  Thank you for being my audience, and have a fantastic weekend!

Where to Go/What to See, Hear with Cindy Marie Jenkins
This is a new program to highlight the arts events in different regions of the USA.  I was the guinea pig for the format.

Engaging a Younger Audience in the Concert Hall (2) with Chip Michael

Artist Check in w/ Shoshana From Audience Development Specialists hosted by Cindy Marie Jenkins
(I had a crick in my neck on this one – LOL and ow!)

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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Filed under Arts, arts marketing, Audience Development