Articles

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

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?”

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What arts and cultural groups can learn from Five Guys

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.

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

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?

[Image: 2012 arts patrons: mobile preferences report cover image]

Download the 6-page report (PDF)

      In 2009, Arts Council Silicon Valley commissioned Group of Minds Arts Marketing + Technology Consultants to research the mobile preferences of arts patrons. A sample of 45,000 patrons were contacted via email selected from the half-price ticket email lists of six regional online arts calendars in six U.S. cities. The goal of the research was to:

  • Discover current usage of mobile phones in relation to arts activities
  • Measure potential near-future usage
  • Explore expectations to prepare successful arts-related mobile channels

In September 2012, Group of Minds independently commissioned an update of the research, with a goal of measuring changes in mobile preferences over the previous three years, and will continue to update the research every three years moving forward. All six original cities and their respective half-price email lists participated in the 2012 update to the research. The same questions were used in the 2012 survey, although several answer options were updated for relevancy. The sample size and method of distribution were repeated. The analysis shows that arts patrons have made large gains of interest in and acceptance of mobile devices as preparatory, participatory, and logistical companions to the arts experience.

One recommendation is that arts organizations need to program different experiences based on different patron technology preferences. So, we’ve made the mobile preferences report available in two formats:

Special thanks to our partner researchers on this project: Arts Council Silicon Valley, Jeff Trabucco, Josh Russell (San Jose); Matt Lehrman (Phoenix); Ann-Marie McKaskle, Marcy Hoen (Austin); Jennifer Schwartzenberg, Erin Hornsby (Nashville); John Mcinerney (Philadelphia); John Beck, Jennifer Falk (Boston).

 

Thoughts on the psychology of social media

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:

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

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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