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?”
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 …
Whether you are a firm believer, casually interested, or crazy-never-in-my-theater against, “Tweet Seats,” are being experimented with at venues across the world. The segmentation of specific seats in a venue to be used by people with their smartphones *during* performance …
By now, you know about Twitter. You can’t avoid it — the mainstream media has picked up the love affair and is spreading the Twitter love far and wide. I recently did a bit of analysis on the Twitter account saturation in the email subscribers a few of our clients, and the results were intriguing.
I scanned the email address databases of five of my arts clients, looking for people who were in their email database, who also had a Twitter account. The five arts organizations were a variety of genres and budget sizes from small to large, so it was interesting to see the same statistics across the board.
I interpret the latter to mean that those people who have not uploaded a picture are still in the “sampling Twitter” phase — just logging in and “lurking” around trying to figure it all out. That’s actually good — we want our audiences to be playing with the new tools. But I don’t count these folks as being “power players” yet, as they probably won’t be following a lot of people or participating to any great degree until they decide if they want