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Four ways to stay happy with your software vendor, for now

January 25, 2016 |

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 … Read More

Thoughts on the Explorer Edition of Google Glass and the arts

January 30, 2015 |

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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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

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

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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Arts discount-ticketing strategies: what to avoid and why — part 2

May 7, 2011 |
[ Image: Discount arts ticketing ]

This isn't really a live ad, just a screenshot for decoration. Had you going there for a second!

In my last post, I spent some time talking about advance sales and discount ticketing strategies, as well as how it’s too easy to train the patron to wait for a better deal if you offer large discounts late in the game. I mentioned that “the right thing to do here is create a marketing strategy that offers the most discount to people who give up the most convenience.” It’s enticing and effective to trade one thing for another (in this case, giving up convenience to get a discount back). I think we’ll see this idea of “trading something for something else” pop up again later on.

I also began to talk about discount ticketing, below, we’ll cover group-based buying programs (the half-price ticket program being an old favorite, and new group-purchase sites such as and LivingSocial that have recently come on the scene).

Half-price theatre tickets: deep discount or exposure to new opportunities?

Half-price tickets are hot. From the TKTS booth in New York City, to your local arts service organization with a half-price ticket list, the idea of “half-price tickets” activates the brain in an exciting way. First, there is the idea of the huge discount — similar to what you might feel when you say a $200 awesome leather jacket marked down to $100. A steal, right? Then there is the idea that they are limited (and we recommend limiting them) — get them while they’re hot, as they won’t be around long. Two powerful incentives to buy those tickets right now!

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Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance releases Groupofminds mobile app vendor selection research

April 8, 2011 |

In the summer of 2010, The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance commissioned Groupofminds to research mobile app development firms in an effort to identify mobile app vendors making significant strides in apps for arts and culture. Now that the research is … Read More

Your arts message: Some examples of great marketing messages by for-profit companies

November 27, 2009 |

Thanking their patrons

I’ve been keeping my eye out to the way some of my favorite brands have been changing their messaging recently. Things of course are getting more filtered and specific to me, which is great, but a few companies are really standing out with messaging that is designed to make me feel good or take action. Take this screenshot from a recent email I received after flying with Southwest Airlines:

Nice Southwest! You didn't ask me for $!

Nice Southwest! You didn’t ask me for $!

Nice! They didn’t try to sell me another ticket right away. They are inviting me to write about my experience, but that doesn’t cost me anything but my time, and at the moment, I’m feeling pretty good about Southwest Airlines (and they just thanked me, so that might add to my decision to write something good about them). Even though I may not choose to write anything in their travel guide, the thank you is nice and stands on its own.

Can the arts learn messaging tactics from Ebay?

Next up: Ebay. I recently purchased a piece of artwork on Ebay, and Ebay sent me this email message in an effort to get me to leave feedback for the seller of the item:

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Mobile vs. Arts in France — How technology helps keep patrons quiet

July 7, 2009 |

The French are known for many things… their appreciation of great food and wine, their love of art and culture, and now, by me, for their valiant belief that concert halls, movie theaters, and other public performance spaces should be free of that person next to you jabbering into his/her cell phone. Thanks to mobile phone jamming devices, you can actually hear the music without patron accompaniment.

Cell-phone jammers

We’ve all be sitting in the audience in the middle of a brilliant monologue, deeply in the moment, when someone’s ring tone starts chirping. It gets louder as the person digs it out of their pocket/bag, and hopefully shuts off. (Even worse, I saw an audience person answer it and carry on a conversation until the people in front of him got up, turned around, and shhhhhed him). Enter the cell-phone jammer. A cell phone jammer is a (usually) small, hand-held device that transmits white noise on the same radio frequencies that cell phones use, thus scrambling their signal to the cell tower and rendering them useless. Usually they have a range of about 30 feet, and all cellular communications are interrupted within that radius with a simple flip of a switch. It sounds like the perfect form of revenge. Somebody being annoying on their phone? Hit the switch in your pocket and their line is dead. A larger version could blanket a concert hall with blissful silence during performances. Which is why the French jumped on the idea and in December of 2004, legalized cell-phone jammers in movie theaters, concert halls, and other Read More