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The Emotional Intensity of Sports and the Arts

June 17, 2016 |

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 … Read More

What can the arts learn from Spotify’s paid subscribers?

November 4, 2015 |

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 … Read More

Thoughts on the Explorer Edition of Google Glass and the arts

January 30, 2015 |
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City Lights’ marketing director, Rebecca Wallace, trying out Google Glass

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 Read More

Experiments in surveying arts audiences via tablets

October 16, 2014 |

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.

[Image: surveying arts audiences via tablets]

surveying arts audiences via tablets

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

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Arts marketing micro-experiments: testing response to an “audio actor bio”

April 2, 2013 |

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?” Read More

What arts and cultural groups can learn from Five Guys

January 14, 2013 |

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. Read More

Arts Patrons: Mobile Preferences | 2012 update to ongoing longitudinal study

December 11, 2012 |

What are arts patrons doing with their mobile devices? What are their feelings about mobile devices at arts and cultural events? What devices are they using, and what information do they want?

      In 2009, Arts Council Silicon … Read More

Thoughts on the psychology of social media

July 2, 2012 |

Institutions don’t talk, passionate people who work there do.

By Ron Evans There is a lot of content on the web on “how to create stronger social media connections.” A simple Google or Bing search will show a ton of articles (when I checked for that search term, Google actually had 129 million results it thought relevant — even if it is only 1% correct, that’s a lot of articles!). I know that a lot of arts organizations struggle with best practices for social media. In preparation for my upcoming webinar with the National Arts marketing Project on July 10 on the psychology of social media, I thought it might be useful to get away from all of the technical aspects of using social media, and talk about the human side. The interaction side. The “what happens in the brain” side.

Why do people “like” you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter?

Do you know the answer? They like you or follow you for a variety of very human reasons: Read More

You’ve got the new arts technology, make sure you have the behavior change

February 17, 2012 |

As an arts marketing and technology guy, I get asked about tech a lot. I help people choose online ticketing systems, new website content management systems, email marketing software — if it is online technology, I’ve probably helped an arts group choose and implement it. When I first started consulting, I thought my job would be to help people make the right choices, and then be on my way. But I’ve found over the years that this is only half of what’s needed to implement new technology.

Changing Technology means Changing Behavior

Say you’ve got a brand-new ticketing system. It can do all the things your old system could never do. You get it installed, and you get training from the company on how to use it. You’ve received a great start! But where I see staff at organizations fall short is when they apply their old behaviors to the new system, and don’t create new behaviors. The motivation and follow-through on behavior modification aren’t there.
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Strategy discovery: use Apple’s Siri to help patrons find your arts organization via mobile voice search

December 8, 2011 |

I recently got the new iPhone 4S. One of the most interesting features of the new iPhone 4S is “Siri,” the phone’s digital assistant. Siri is pretty amazing, and I feel that she represents the “next big thing” in how people soon will find information about your arts and cultural organization. 

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Siri, watch the short demo video from Apple:


So, it’s clear that Siri is already pretty darn good at scheduling your appointments, texting people via voice, reminding you of tasks you need to do, and pulling up generic web information. On top of that, she’s just plain fun to talk to. The fact that I refer to her as “she” should say a lot about how much personality she has. Just ask her a knock knock joke.

All of this got me thinking: although Siri is very new (and officially still in “beta” by Apple), what capabilities does she already have for helping a patron connect with arts and culture?

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