Six Cheap Easy Research Tips for Arts Marketers – Summary

In the past three weeks I’ve posted six tips for gaining meaningful insight into new audience motives. See if you can find a through line:

1. Talk to your new audience when they come to your events

2. Use published research

3. Listen to your new audience through informal focus group research

4. Interact with new audiences on their turf through meaningful community engagement

5. Establish two-way relationships with new audiences through executive sales programs

6. Seek new audience’s input on marketing language while it’s being developed

Uh-huh.

It’s not so much about research as it is about relationships – and relationships cost nothing.

The reason we suck at building new audiences is that we don’t know who they are and we rarely talk to them. It’s just not in our culture. Somehow we’ve come to believe that marketing, or God forbid “communications,” means sitting in conference rooms packaging self-congratulatory insider messages into little rectangles and spraying them at the world outside – hoping they’ll reach enough people who care to meet our sales goals. But, as recent news about symphony orchestras suggests, it’s not a very productive survival strategy.

So here’s one more tip: Close the executive offices every Thursday at noon and insist that every staff member in marketing, PR, sales, development, executive leadership, outreach, education and general management make appointments with key community figures and spend the day out in the real world establishing personal relationships with buyers, donors, sales partners, marketing partners, service organizations, sponsors, supporters, opinion leaders, educators, media reps, bloggers – you name it. Change the insider orientation to an outsider orientation. Bring an external perspective back into the conference room and start communicating with new audiences in a natural, personal, outsider-oriented language that’s more about them than it is about us.

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