Difficult economic times call for different ways of thinking about marketing. From arts organizations looking to fill a seat, to restaurant managers trying to sell a dinner, the issue is the same: how to keep patrons coming in and participating with your organization. In many cases, an organization’s first response to needing to save money in a down economy is to cut costs, and often times the first budget to go is marketing. But when you stop to think about it, marketing is one of the only direct expense-to-income streams you have. Marketing is a revenue generator, not simply an expense, so your organization should be budgeting to market MORE in a down economy, and to market smartly as much as possible. Let’s talk about some easy ways to do this with a goal of not raising expenses or reducing revenues.
There are many ways to spend your time marketing or developing your arts organization. But which are the most effective? We’ve narrowed it down to 9. A recent survey of arts organizations compiled by the Wallace Foundation tells us that most groups feel that the use of next-generation technology is vital to audience development. On the next question, when asked how organizations feel they are doing with implementation of next-generation technology, the vast number of groups surveyed said “not as well as we’d like to be.” One issue seems to be that many groups have yet to master what we like to call “previous-generation technology.” Let’s examine what is known to work, in an effort to build an arts marketing foundation for you, the arts group. We feel that groups should focus on having all 9 of these techniques in place before putting a lot of effort into other technologies. So, play around with the “new” stuff, but remember your marketing roots first. In no particular order…
As arts marketers, we know that having an up-to-date website is one of the primary ways our patrons find out about our activities. But after serving on the board of a small community theatre group, I know the pain that cultural groups feel when they have to wait for that one board member to update the website. Or perhaps it’s waiting for your friend’s cousin to respond to your email that it’s time to put up the cast list. The great news is it doesn’t have to be like that. Imagine a scenario where any company member who knows how to use Microsoft Word can login and make changes to their section of the website? That updating the content could be shared by multiple people without getting in each other’s way? It’s called a Content Management System (CMS) and it should be a part of every marketing plan for arts organizations.
Here’s a great definition: A CMS is used to edit your website by giving the user an interface where they can log in and make text, graphic or structural amends to then publish the new pages on the live website. So the important thing to know is that arts groups can make changes to their websites by just logging int