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November 27, 2009

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

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:

A powerful message from Ebay!

A powerful message from Ebay!

Whoa! “You have feedback you need to leave” is not kidding around. They are tapping into a lot of things there. I need to leave feedback. It is my responsibility as a good “ebayer.” If I don’t, I’ll be a bad person. It is something I NEED to do. Then they soften it up by saying “Be an Ebay Star — Leave Feedback!” Ok. All I have to do to have Ebay like me is to write feedback. I’ll redeem my irresponsible, dark-side-leaning self, and come back into the light! This is powerful stuff. This message went through a bunch of research to be created, I have no doubt. It’s a great message for action. Minus one point for using the word “click” as a command to go somewhere. Personally, I really hate “click” and especially “click here” — that’s why we have underlined links, so you’ll know where to click. But I digress. Ebay wins major messaging points for avoiding a wishy-washy message, and for tapping into some primal emotions for right and wrong.

You’ve just experienced it, are you ready for more?

Finally, I recently did an arts marketing webinar with a friend who was using a piece of webinar software from Like most webinar software, it allows you to share your screen to take your participants on a tour, run a powerpoint session, etc. What struck me was the message I saw when I ended the conference:

The software was smart enough to know that I was not the person running the webinar software (and was therefore a participant who might be interested in paying for an account) and the messaging is designed to have me realize that “Wow, that WAS really easy to do. This thing might be a good choice for webinars.” I liked this, because it was a surprise to see, and the software WAS really easy to use. They are tooting their own horn, but in a way that is real, with a real experience to back it up.

So how does this play out for the arts?

Many times, I see arts marketing messages that don’t take a stand that sells the benefits and defends the value. We should be telling people WHY they should attend our performance, not just sending an ad with dates/times/prices. If the performance is spectacular, we should be parading that fact proudly to all — “Aren’t you glad you were a part of THAT!” — why not? Let’s ask people for action and tap into who they are as people. “How long has it been since you gave support to the arts and saw a good play?” We are all creating wonderful work that we are proud of. Let’s not be afraid to celebrate and champion it in our messaging. Like this post? Please share it with others who you think might benefit from it, via the links below, and subscribe via email or RSS to receive future updates.