Tag Archives: audience development vs. marketing

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

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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.***

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Outreach, rinse, repeat for arts audience development

Do you want to get a good lather going for audience development?  I know you have heard me mention outreach before, but I’m not sure everyone has taken action.  There are two ways to develop an audience.  You can throw tons of money into marketing efforts, and if you have the tons of money to advertise everywhere, you might get a big enough percentage to see your audience grow (albeit mostly temporarily if no follow up occurs).  The second way to develop an audience is through sweat equity using audience development programs and outreach efforts.  With outreach efforts, you can put in the time and show up, share, become a part of your community and become recognized to build your audiences.

Many of you do not have the tons of money to throw at a huge enough marketing effort, but you can put in the sweat equity.  It takes time, but you will only need little amounts of money to do outreach properly.  Here is a list of tasks you can take on to help develop your audiences through outreach efforts:

  • Find your local community events – evaluate which ones fit with you and your missionset up a table
    It usually costs $25-150 to table at one of these events.  If you have a program that can provide entertainment, you can get a table for free, and you might get paid as well.  This is the place where you can meet the people that are interested, but are not attending.  I get this question, a lot.  How do we speak with the people that are not attending.  This is one way to do it!
  • Retweet valuable information on Twitter – Find out what your followers are interested in, and retweet content that they would enjoy. This will help you go beyond the marketing tweets (which can turn off followers if that’s all you tweet about).  This means that when you see an article your followers would be interested in, retweet!
  • Become a creative for your community and help to solve problems – I recently saw a presentation where a light artist created an installation to help make the city safer.  Artists can solve problems in creative ways to help their community.
  • Give to others to bring awareness for yourself – People these days admire businesses that also help other people.  Artists and arts organizations can make a huge difference with their art and create positive energy toward awareness and dollars for social causes.  In the process, you will be helping yourself too by bringing in new audiences and energy toward your art.
  • Create events that tie into a bigger picture – If there is a national event that is hosted by a bigger entity, find a way to create a local event to invite fans to connect with you.  You will find a regional audience that would be a good fit for you too.
  • Develop programs to have your audiences do the outreaching for you – People are sharing! Compelling stories, programs, videos, pictures are share worthy. Develop strong content and incentives to get people wanting to share and outreach for you.

I hope you see that all 4 C’s will be represented when you do outreach properly for audience development (Connect, Collaborate, Community, Care).  It does take some time and hard work, but if you really want an audience – outreach, rinse (evaluate), repeat!

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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Arts audience development and Twitter reminder

For my Monday Moment, I wanted to remind all of you that using Twitter is not all about “me, me, me.”  I have seen various artists and arts organizations posting a stream of marketing messages to like them on Facebook, or check out our YouTube or repeated tweets about their upcoming show.

Twitter is meant for socializing which means the majority of your stream should either be about “them” or about “us.”  This means that you want to have more two-way communications and also to tweet information that will be beneficial for them as well.  Having a stream that is all about “me” is not going to be as popular, and less people will likely want to follow.  They will get tired of being “sold to” all the time.

The occasional marketing message is okay, but use marketing tweets sparingly!

Use Twitter to build relationships with your audiences and have real conversations with them.  Simply retweeting that they retweeted one of your marketing message does not count.  If you do not have @replies or links to interesting information to deepen your relationships with them, you are missing the point of Twitter.  Twitter can be a valuable experience when you use it correctly.

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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How to go beyond demographics for arts audience development

I had a conversation with an arts center yesterday.  They mentioned that they are working with a marketing company and are busy pulling their target audience information after some research.  I was concerned that they were only going as far as to target demographics, such as age, gender, income, zip code, etc.  It is good to consider demographics, but it is even better to know the psychographics.  From Wikipedia:

Psychographic variables are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Activities, and Opinions). They can be contrasted with demographic variables (such as age and gender), behavioral variables (such as usage rate or loyalty), and firmographic variables (such as industry, seniority and functional area).

When we are considering what type of person would be interested in your art, wouldn’t it be best to consider a person’s personality, values, attitudes, interests or lifestyle instead of their age, gender and income?  To me it makes perfect sense to go beyond the demographics to find the right people that will enjoy your art and become loyal audiences. Finding out the psychographics of your audiences will enable you to put more focus on who they are as people instead of simply having the data of a crowd.

In order to take the psychographics into account, I suggest that you get to know your current audiences to form a more complete picture about them.  Use surveys and focus groups and ask questions that will bring to light the personalities and preferences of your audience members.  Once you get to know your audiences, you will have a clue as to what types of people enjoy your art and who in the future you can reach out to using these psychographic variables as your guide.

I have found that psychographics lead to expanding an audience far beyond what pulling demographics can do.  If you want to build the right audience for you, I highly recommend starting to get to know your current and potential audiences as people instead of as numbers you can pull from a census report.  Go beyond the demographics, and instead of targeting the numbers, build relationships with the right people for your art.

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.

My eBook

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

Leave a comment

Filed under arts marketing, Audience Development

Audience Development and Open Studios

In my area, it is Open Studios time. These are events where artists open up their home studios to invite visitors to get to know them and to see their art that is for sale.   I go to this event almost every year to visit some of my favorite artists in the area.  I am a consumer of art and have several of my found treasures hanging in my hallways.  The good news is that I received several emails to remind me of the event from a few of the artists that I signed in with.  The bad news, these artists are not emailing me in an audience development way.

I am receiving a group email format, and most of these artists are sending them not in a blind copy email, so I see everyone’s email on the list.  So, this email is not really personal, and it is an invasion of privacy.  I rather not have my email be seen by everyone.

To my visual artist friends out there, this is your challenge.  You have an opportunity with these open studios to build relationships with everyone that comes into your door.  People seek you out because something about your art or description of your art has attracted their attention.  If you want them to become your special patrons, you need to start treating each and every one of these people as special.

What do you need to do to treat them special?  Start sending out personal emails.  One artist had 12 people on their list.  Only 12 people.  You can send out a nice message to each of these people.  For the artists that have more than 12, why not send out messages a little at a time starting two weeks in advance?  I am receiving an email on Thursday, the Thursday before the beginning weekend.  What if I already had plans for the weekend?  The email is a little late and shows the lack of real interest to connect with me as a person.  It shows you are too busy to take the time to email me directly, especially since you are sending the email so late.

I have not received emails from the artists I actually purchased from.  Interesting!  Aren’t you interested in building a relationship with me so I would want to buy more of your art?  I already proved I love what you do.

Visual artists, you have such an amazing opportunity with your open studios events.  The personal touch is needed.  You need to start having individual invitations and conversations with your patrons.  If you want me to buy your art, to continue buying your art, to tell others about your art, you need to start addressing me as an individual person and spend some time with me after I arrive, and then send a thank you follow up after I purchase (or even if I don’t).  People take the time out of their busy lives to visit you.  In this economy, when they purchase, you should make a fuss over them to thank them and get to know them as people.  It’s the least you can do for them.

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.”

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Audience development and pricing

I have been seeing a great deal of discussion on pricing in terms of outreaching to build an audience.  Dynamic pricing has been discussed (think airline pricing with prices being lower with earlier purchase).  Also, Groupons or Living Social, or coupon sales have been discussed.  Both options can build “butts in seats,” but do they build “people in seats” or a loyal audience for your art/organization?  Maybe, maybe not.

I’ve decided to play devil’s advocate in this blog to see the other viewpoint of this conversation:

Here’s the “deal!” Lowering price is  a technique to get people interested.  It is an incentive for them to purchase, perfect for people on the fence since it nudges them to the side of buying.  However, these discounts can give the wrong message to your potential audience.

  1. It can send a message that you are not worth more than these discounted prices.  Your audience might get used to these pricing points.  In attempts to raise the price to more normal levels, you might not see a “return” on your discount investment.  This factor could be accommodated by only having these special deals at rare occasions, but these audience members may become savvy and wait until the sale happens instead. In this case, you may see a return, but at the continued discount prices.  It’s definitely a gamble.  Can you ultimately afford this?
  2. If there is no follow up involved, there is no guarantee that these deal buyers will turn into loyal audience members. Using discount methods may get people in the door, but it does not guarantee them coming back.
  3. Deep discounts could send the wrong message that you can afford selling at these prices.  I understand that there could be an argument that you can’t afford not to sell at these prices to get “butts in seats” with the potential to convert, but I guess it all depends on your bottom line.  In my opinion, there are ways to sell the value of your art/organization without deep discounts.  If people see the value, they will purchase at a regular price.  I can’t be the only one willing to go out of my way or purchase at a higher price if the quality and value are there.  If you really want something, you will pay the price.  Maybe we need to focus on people wanting the arts experience more instead of pricing less.
  4. Discounted prices can be a signal that you may not need extra support.  As I mentioned in a conversation, one of my patrons asked about our discounted subscription: “Why are you discounting? Don’t you need the money?”  Discounts can cause this confusion. Plus, people view their ticket purchase as a means to supporting the art/organization.  If you ask for a donation on top of this discounted amount to supplement, they may simply say they already purchased tickets.  You will then be out the difference of the discounted price vs. regular price, and out the donation amount since the perception has now shifted.In more consideration to these conversations, perhaps adding the choice of not discounting and paying regular price could give loyal patrons the opportunity to be  loyal, which will give you the option of being open and honest in communicating that you need the continued support.
  5. Groupon and Living Social may be popular methods, but as a nonprofit arts manager, I would look for other ways to get the word out about discounts so you don’t have to split your revenue.  Getting less than 50% of the value of a ticket doesn’t sit well with me or with most nonprofit budgets.  With ticket purchases averaging only 30-40% of  income, can you really afford to give so much away?  Shouldn’t you be figuring out ways to increase this percentage instead of lowering it?  Unless the shear volume of purchase compensates for the lowered revenue, I would look into other avenues that may cost considerably less.  Of course you need to look into the quantity vs. quality issue too.  More purchases may not equal a quality audience.

I understand the need to get people in the door, but I also see that starting people off with a discount may be setting ourselves up for some rude awakenings.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons that building loyalty has been tricky.  I guess it can be a means of sifting out who will become more loyal patrons and who are simply there for the discount if follow up occurs, but it can also mean that you are sending out the message that the arts are not worth more than a vastly discounted price, lowering the value of the arts along with continued lowered monetary support.

The only way discounts first as a method can work in the long run  is if you can convert these discount buyers to see the full value of your art.  If they see the value, then maybe they will be willing to pay full price in the future.  Are we implementing programs to make sure this conversion happens?

However, on a further limb,  discount pricing to build an audience, in my opinion, should be used more as a last resort and not as a first resort.  I tend to discount towards the end if seats still need to be sold. The audience that is loyal will purchase at the regular price.  The audience that sees the value will too.  The audience that is on the fence will buy based on the later discount.  You might be shooting yourselves in the foot if the discount is sooner rather than later.  The loyals may purchase at the discounted price since they tend to purchase sooner than later, costing you the difference.

In some ways, inviting them for free may be better since they will know that this won’t last and regular pricing is going to happen.

Lastly, without audience development, nothing will be developed except lowered value in the end.  Have you honestly tried audience development?  I know when I switched to audience development and fair valued pricing, I found myself with a bigger and better (quality) audience.

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

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

Workshops are available!

Does your arts organization or artists group need some new energy?  Our workshops can generate enthusiasm for audience development.

Contact us for more information!

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

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Audience development and social media – a matter of quality not quantity

This will be a quick one.  I have been noticing  more lately the “click like to help us get to 100 fans” or “4 more until 300 Twitter followers.”   In one way, it is good to get the request out there for more people to be interested in your Facebook fan page or Twitter feed, etc, and it may indeed help add quantity.  However, are you really adding quality?  To me the entire purpose of social media is to build relationships and strengthen these relationships between you and your patrons.

I know someone that has over 4,000 friends on Facebook.  Considering that most of us know an average of 300 people on a first name basis, do you think he knows all 4,000 people?  Are they quality friendships or simply “FB friends?”

I also know some people that have over 3,000 Twitter followers.  Most of them follow around the same amount too.  Do they really care about connecting with all these people?  Do they have the time and energy to do so?  Are some of these potential beneficial relationships falling through the cracks?

In the article “Clive Thompson in Praise of Online Obscurity,” Wired Magazine, January 25, 2010, the consideration of what happens when you get too many followers is explored:

Consider the case of Maureen Evans. A grad student and poet, Evans got into Twitter at the very beginning — back in 2006 — and soon built up almost 100 followers. Like many users, she enjoyed the conversational nature of the medium. A follower would respond to one of her posts, other followers would chime in, and she’d respond back.

Then, in 2007, she began a nifty project: tweeting recipes, each condensed to 140 characters. She soon amassed 3,000 followers, but her online life still felt like a small town: Among the regulars, people knew each other and enjoyed conversing. But as her audience grew and grew, eventually cracking 13,000, the sense of community evaporated. People stopped talking to one another or even talking to her. “It became dead silence,” she marvels.

Why? Because socializing doesn’t scale. Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote. “They feel they can’t possibly be the person who’s going to make the useful contribution,” Evans says. So the conversation stops. Evans isn’t alone. I’ve heard this story again and again from those who’ve risen into the lower ranks of microfame. At a few hundred or a few thousand followers, they’re having fun — but any bigger and it falls apart. Social media stops being social. It’s no longer a bantering process of thinking and living out loud. It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting.

The lesson? There’s value in obscurity.

To read the entire article: Click here!

I have seen this happen a great deal with people that have over 3,000 followers.  I have attempted to reach out to them, and they simply do not have the time and energy to respond personally anymore.  Instead, you see messages from these folks apologizing that they can no longer respond to each message that comes to them.  What a shame!

Not to mention the fact that if you do not consider who you follow or who follows you, you might just end up with a bunch of spam or be inundated with too much information that you cannot use.

Unless we factor in quality for our social media experiences, the very gain that we have for using social media for audience development, the ability to form and strengthen relationships with people, may disintegrate if we keep clamoring for quantity.   Audience development is the chance to create two way conversations and social media is a perfect platform to accomplish this.  If we take away the quality and focus on quantity, you will be taking away the two way conversations.  You will simply end up with old fashioned, one way marketing again.

Just a thought to keep in mind!

Cheers to happy and loyal audiences,

Shoshana

Shoshana Fanizza
Audience Development Specialists
http://www.buildmyaudience.com
Facebook/twitter /E-mazing Newsletter /Blog

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

Hourly Phone Sessions – Do you have a question about audience development or need feedback or advice on a project or challenge?  ADS can help!

Donate to the Audience Development Specialists Grant Fund!

YouTube Gallery – Do you have an amazing way you use YouTube to promote your art?  Let ADS know, and you might see your YouTube highlighted on our new gallery!

Leave a comment

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