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.
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
The invention of email was a gift to arts marketers. Zero cost and instant up-to-the-minute communication with plain text. Nice. Then came email marketing with graphic newsletters. Even better! Your copy and your brand’s “look and feel.” When used correctly, graphic email marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep up a conversation with your patrons. Make sure they are saying more than “unsubscribe”!
Write each message as if you were writing a sweet note to Mom (Hi, Mom). Create engaging and intelligent content that people at least have the potential to enjoy reading. Some background on the performers or the show. A backstage interview of the director. A short note on something that make this arts experience especially relevant. In the way you would talk to Mom. You wouldn’t send Mom an ad, would you?
People don’t like getting what they’ve already read. Make sure that each email you send is unique — something must be different, and it must be right at the top. You’re not only trying to sell