Most Awesome Brochure From Austin, Texas

I’ve written before about the great work Jason Nicholson from the Austin Symphony is doing. Today I’m delighted to let you know that his 2013/14 season brochure has been recognized by peers at the League of American Orchestras as the “Most Awesome Brochure” in his category.

ASO Brochure ShotYou can see the brochure here.

Early reports suggest that the brochure is pulling ahead of last year’s, but we’re waiting for overall results. What we insiders like and what works aren’t always the same thing, of course, so we’ll have to hold off on making judgements until the numbers are in. (Surprising as it may seem to some veteran arts pros, sales results are the only reliable indicators of an orchestra brochure’s quality.)

From a strategic perspective, however, I can identify several elements of this brochure that make it worthy of its awesome designation:

1. It’s based on research into audience motivations. Jason learned from audience members on the outer fringes of his support system that the experience of enjoying a night out was as important as the content of that night out, so he created a brochure that focused on the customers’ experience.

2. It’s as much about the customer as it is about the product. Commercial marketers know that one of the best ways to sell a product is to show happy people who represent their target demographic actually enjoying the product. This does that beautifully. (Larger orchestras that use their promotional real estate to talk exclusively about how wonderful and important they are could learn a thing or two from this.)

3. It tells a story. Rather than simply presenting sequential product information, this brochure tells a compelling emotional story about a couple’s night at the symphony. It uses narrative to draw consumers in and help them identify more personally with the product. That last shot of the happy couple walking hand-in-hand up the aisle under the words “Subscriber Information” is priceless.

4. It breaks the fourth wall. That shot of the patrons and musicians in the same hallway is priceless.

5. It meets the audience where they live. Arts institutions often maintain a philosophical belief that audiences should aspire to their level, which is fine and may be true, but allowing that philosophy to spill into marketing messages can be suicidal. This brochure avoids condescension by saying, “This is about you,” which is exactly what it is.

I’m a huge fan of the work the Austin Symphony Orchestra is doing and I look forward to seeing great things coming from Jason and his team in the future.

Congratulation, Jason. Can’t wait to hear how the campaign works.

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5 thoughts on “Most Awesome Brochure From Austin, Texas

  1. Wow! Thank you Trevor for those wonderful comments. This means a lot coming from the guru himself. I’ll make sure to keep you informed on how this and the rest of my marketing efforts play out. Your book and your blog have validated my efforts. Thank you!

  2. I’m loving the approach … but the execution still feels a little stilted and ‘posed’ (like a clothes mail order catalogue). I’m wondering whether in the next iteration it could ‘free-up’ a bit so there is a little more spontaneity. I mean this in an entirely positive way!

  3. Very refreshing take on what an orchestra brochure is normally like!
    I wonder if putting audiences first should not be extended to the copywriting? I think that, for most people, reading a repertoire list doesn’t mean a thing. What does it sound like? How will it make me feel?
    Explaining what Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No5 is like would sit well with the rest of the awesomeness! šŸ™‚

  4. Awesome. I love how it balances the audience with the performers. I agree it might be somewhat stilted, but when comparing it to the norms of the industry, even this is less than the musician with instrument glamour shot you often see. I have felt the ASO were reaching too far in past attempts, but this is great.

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