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9 Highlights from the AMA Conference 2015

Team Spektrix at the 2014 #amaconf

Another year, another AMA conference passed. The Spektrix team reflect on their nine favourite bits of the event in Birmingham...

1) The Pollen app

Tom: I really enjoyed hearing about the Pollen app as a way of rewarding disloyalty by getting audiences to try new experiences. It was interesting to learn that Birmingham has the youngest average age of any city in Europe! They are planning on developing the app so that they can identify what motivates people to cancel their free ticket, which could be an interesting insight into what turns audiences off.

Paul: Like Tom, one of my favourites was the Pollen App session. I was particularly interested to hear about the challenges of getting leadership teams to engage with the idea of giving away tickets that would otherwise go unsold, and how they used encrypted email lists to ensure app users weren't being targeted with free tickets for types of events they are likely to consider purchasing for.

2) How to create an award-winning marketing campaign

Kerry: I really enjoyed How to create an award-winning marketing campaign with Sarah Ogle from Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, which looked at their communication strategy during the capital development of the Everyman. They created a newspaper to keep in touch with their audience, keeping storytelling at the core of their redevelopment. To make sure the theatre remained for 'Everyman' they took photos of local people and put these on the front of the theatre, creating 105 advocates.

Chris: Like Kerry, I thought Sarah Ogle from Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse was interesting too. A practical case study of how they approached a big capital redevelopment project from a marketing point of view, successfully keeping their audiences involved and excited, despite not having an open building.

3) It's not how big your data is, its what you do with it that counts

Emily: I enjoyed Tim Baker's session (from Baker Richards) It's not how big your data is, it’s what you do with it that counts. It was really fascinating as he was presenting a lot of interesting information about clever uses of data. They’re well known for pricing strategies but are now creating some new tools to help venues understand their data and use it effectively.

4) Future of the box office

Libby: I enjoyed debating the future of the box office with Roger Tomlinson and Andrew Thomas and rethinking how we talk about the box office – is it a visitor centre? Customer centre? Check-in? Great fun!

5) Influencing upwards

Paul: I enjoyed the piece about the psychology of selling in the Influencing Upwards session. In particular, I liked the lessons around how natural introverts and extroverts tend to sell and you could see how that could be applied to ensure a good mix of people on any team.

6) Workshops at the mac Birmingham

Kerry: I really enjoyed the portrait workshop at the mac and thought it was a great way to kick off the conference. It was a nice way to meet new people and the teachers were really good. The teacher running the portrait class has work at the National Portrait Gallery, and was really inspiring!

7) Fundraising in the face of disaster

Alex: Anne Wareing gave a very honest hour-by-hour account of what went on behind the scenes when the Battersea Arts Centre set on fire and the #BACphoenix campaign that came out of it. It highlighted just how crucial things we might take for granted can become when you're thrown into a disastrous situation – like the importance of making your digital channels mobile-first, being agile enough to react quickly, being transparent with your donors and having a strong sense of identity. Caroline McCormick made a great point that it's not just about the big dramatic disasters to be aware of but slow-creeping ones too (which are just dangerous), including the loss of a director, the loss of NPO status and long term obligations like maintaining a building. But the biggest takeaway was to ask some tough questions about the culture of your organisation: if your building burned down tomorrow, would your culture and sense of identity be strong enough to allow your organisation to survive?

8) Richard Evans from Beamish

Chris: I thought Richard Evans from Beamish was brilliant. He’s a really passionate advocate of his organisation and how important it is to their region, and a great speaker to watch.

9) Diversity & access

Chris: I think Jo Verrent from Unlimited made some good points about diversity and access. The stat that 18-22% of the population has some form of disability was an interesting one, in terms of how disabled people can have better experiences in arts organisations, but also in terms of making sure we don't miss out on 22% of the marketplace by not providing for them.