This year the annual National Arts Marketing Project Conference took Team Spektrix to Salt Lake City in Utah. Over three days, delegates from across the states gathered to discuss all things arts marketing with data and diversity high on the agenda. The three days were packed with engaging workshops and seminars (and maybe even a little karaoke!) but some of our highlights were:
Memorable experience = repeat business
Allison Houseworth of Method 121 encouraged delegates to look beyond the arts industry and recognize that we’re all marketing in the experience economy, and need to personalize every micro-interaction an individual has with our organization. She gave 14 touch points where venues connect with audiences, eight of which are opportunities for your customers to make an impression of your organization before even seeing a performance or exhibit. With patrons experiencing top customer service from the likes of Amazon and Uber this sets the bar high for the arts. Allison’s advice? Being patron-centric starts with unity from within the organization, it’s only through sharing information across your organization that you can personalize every interaction.
Key takeaway: It’s crucial therefore that you integrate your technology and processes to support your staff’s efforts to build loyalty and repeat business.
Discounting means your pricing is already dynamic
In a session on scaling the house – where customers are asked to pay significantly higher prices for quality seats – Steppenwolf Theatre Company and Spektrix users Round House Theatre explained how smarter pricing and strategy can enable you to maximize income at an organization of any size. They were joined by Timmy Metzner of JCA Arts Marketing who pointed out that any arts organization currently discounting is already using dynamic pricing. For both theaters this has meant using transactional data and paying attention to multiple variables, looking at which seats are selling, at what price, how quickly and to which customers. Bryan Joseph Lee from Round House talked about the importance of finding or building reports that work and remembering that your pricing is part of your branding.
Key takeaway: What messaging may you be sending, intentionally or otherwise, with your current inventory management approach?
Likes and retweets are not engagement
A hands-on workshop with LWYL’s Kelly Page looked to dispel myths we often have about social media, emphasising that likes and retweets do not mean that a customer is engaging with your organisation. One way to create sustainable social media engagement is through designing social experiences, which are then the perfect material for sharing with and truly engaging your social media following.
Kelly introduced Arena Stage, Washington and Lookingglass Theatre Company who have successfully created social experiences to promote and even enhance their programming. Look at the story you’re telling. Who are the storytellers? What is the plot? What are the themes and genres? What emotions do they evoke? Looking at the story they were already telling, Arena Stage put on a competition to win a wedding at the venue, inspired by Fiddler on the Roof. Tying in with their showing of Treasure Island, Lookingglass Theatre Company got involved with Talk Like a Pirate Day.
Key takeaway: Kelly stressed the importance of giving ourselves the time and space to get creative and curate social experiences as this is fundamental to ensuring long-term engagement.
Context is king
One of our favorite topics, segmentation, was raised by TRG Arts, Hubbard Street Dance and Instant Encore in a workshop all about contextual marketing. Matching the customer’s circumstance to the business’s circumstance, contextual marketing requires marketers to take a close look at customers’ past behavior. Then it’s possible to determine how that customer’s circumstance might align with what your organization is offering. Remember it’s about personalization, not individualization; keep 4-10 segments, and create a message that resonates. Try www.usa.com to help build audience profiles using zipcodes too. Although technology may enable us to have more contact with our audience, it’s only through empathy that you can drive engagement. Concentrate on learning your audience, not just when trying to sell tickets.
Key takeaway: Marketers need to empathize with their audience and communicate based on their familiarity with your organization.
‘Gut Churn’ is an essential part of the creative process
With a theme this year of ‘Lift Off!’ the conference opened with a keynote from Radiolab’s host Jad Abumrad who talked about the importance of taking risks. Rather than shying away, Jad advised marketers to recognize those moments of ‘gut churn’ and break through the fear that is central to trying anything new for the first time at that is so vital to any creative process. Building on his own experience at Radiolab, Jad pointed out how easy it is to get frustrated when the work you’re producing doesn’t meet your own expectations.
Key takeaway: Jad’s tips were to keep working as hard as you can to close the gap between your ambitions and what you’re actually achieving and to realize that those moments that sometimes feel like you’re about to breakdown, often that means you’re very close to a breakthrough.
This is a theme that resonated through Beth Kanter’s keynote too and raised the debate as to how far as an industry we cater for this, and whether we allow ourselves and our teams to take risks and positively embrace failure.
Images are here.
Links to slides are here.