When was the last time you attended a live sporting event? Did you yell and scream yourself hoarse for your team? Did you dress up in your team colors, talk trash about the opposing team on social media, or perform …
“Wow. I’d love it if we asked patrons for contact information, but if I asked our volunteers to do that, they would revolt.”
This was the end of a conversation about audience-data collection that I had in Santa …
My phone rang from across the room. I caught it right before it sent Carrie, one of my clients, to voicemail. “Hey, Ron — do you know a good fundraising system that actually returns calls? I’m sick of mine.”
I get …
Streaming-music service Spotify currently has more than 75 million active users and 20 million paid subscribers, and I’m one of those subscribers. The service is doing a lot of stuff right. I love it. It allows me to keep my own playlists with …
Today, Amazon launched its new Amazon Home Services product, with a huge banner placement and video on its homepage. Amazon Home Services allows people to enter their zip code, and search for service providers such as electricians, home theater installers, or just “odd jobs” around the house (all in direct competition with Yelp, and somewhat in competition with listing services such as Angie’s List).
All quite uninteresting to the arts, until a deeper search of the offerings reveals arts-based services such as voice lessons, violin lessons, and guitar lessons. There are also options to “Hire A Singer,” as well as the strangely specific “Hire a Silk Aerialist.”
While the former are educational experiences, the latter are clearly performances. Once you pick the service, you are asked to select from vendors for, say, TV installation, based on price and star rating. I loaded that link into three browsers, two logged into Amazon, and one not, and got prices for the same service as the first
After years of controversy and slow-burn marketing, Google has retired the Explorer Edition of Google Glass. In their blog post, they mention that they are going to focus instead on “building for the future” and that there will be future versions of Glass. The media has jumped on this and many sources are saying, “Google Glass is dead.” A few passionate tech folks at arts organizations are sighing heavily, because it feels like a promising avenue for engagement has vaporized. The good news is that wearables as a sector are going to continue to explode, and that poses some interesting possibilities for the arts.
There was a lot of excitement about Glass and its potential use in the arts. I “won” my access to Glass by tweeting that I wanted to use Glass to show opera supertitles. After I received Glass and had worked with it a bit, I decided not to pursue this, but I was
Ron Evans, Principal of Group of Minds, talks about his experiments with surveying arts audiences via tablets and puts the call out for arts organizations interested in partnering on additional experimentation in unique spaces.
Finally! A screen the executive director wants to see in the audience! With prices for tablets declining and acceptance of their use increasing, I wondered how they would hold up as survey tools for arts organizations. I’m liking the results! Tablets are not a good fit for all situations, but are a great fit for some.
To get rolling, I knew I would be going with Android-based tablets, as iPads are too expensive for this situation. One of my awesome clients who is always up for a good experiment is The Western Stage, and they were game to try tablets, so I purchased a small fleet and got to outfitting. After a lot of trial and error with survey software, connectivity, and tablet functionalities, I was able to get a system running that I thought would be pretty easy for patrons to use. Here is a shot of one of the tablets in action.
Traditionally, I’ve run in-venue surveys via paper and pencil, left on randomly selected seats. That’s how I was taught, and it is
I often tell arts groups that “every marketing thing you do should be some sort of experiment.” If you’re sending out an email, do an A/B test of subject lines to find out what works better. Study what time of day your Twitter posts get the most response. Test if patrons who are given details about your yummy concession items during a curtain speech end up buying more concession items at intermission than patrons who do not hear the description. These are not giant experiments with far-reaching implications. They are not big enough to cause red tape at your organization. But they can yield results that can allow you to improve your tactics.
I call these small tests “micro-experiments.”
Micro-experiments allow you to learn from your actions. Even a small statistically significant result will allow you to adapt your marketing, fundraising or “whatevering” behavior to use the new knowledge. And not only are micro-experiments useful to your marketing efforts, they are just plain fun. Research doesn’t have to be difficult — you can do it as part of your everyday activities.
I recently facilitated a micro-experiment for The Tabard Theatre Company in San Jose, CA. Tabard has received a grant from the city of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affairs to experiment with new audience engagement techniques, and specifically to explore new ways of communicating the information found in the paper program.
You have all held a paper program and know what information it contains — information on the scenes in the play, an explanation from the director about the show, descriptions of the time period, ads from local sponsors, actor and tech bios, etc. There are pluses and minuses to paper programs. Some people like to take the program home as a keepsake. Others throw it on the floor and waste the paper. Our main question during this process is “In what additional ways can the information that is contained in the paper program be communicated to the patron?”
I’m a strong believer that arts and cultural organizations should explore the practices of for-profit companies, and assimilate what works. Take the popular burger chain Five Guys. I heard about Five Guys launching in my city from my friends. “You have to try the burger… awesome…” they said. I have tried it, and it is a great burger experience. I also noticed interesting consumer psychology at play, and began to think about how these ideas could be adapted to arts and cultural organizations.