Here’s one way to design a classical music sales brochure based on a survey of season brochures from America’s top orchestras:
- Use a cover image that appeals to industry insiders (i.e. your conductor)
- Fill inside pages with photos of artists, instruments, venue, etc.
- Use copy that mixes overblown boasting with condescending history lessons
- Be relentlessly self-centered, self-important and self-congratulatory
- Include a picture of an ethnic child at an education event
Here’s another way to design a classical music sales brochure based on essential sales principles:
- Use a cover image that motivates new customers to read the brochure
- Fill inside pages with images of customers enjoying themselves at concerts
- Describe in natural language how the product will satisfy customers’ desires
- Be relentlessly customer-centered
- Use pictures of ethnic children only if you’re trying to sell tickets to ethnic children
A brochure is a sales tool. Good sales tools are about making customers happy. But somewhere along the way classical music industry leaders decided that sales tools were about making themselves happy. “Yay. We get to publish a brochure once a year that tells the world how wonderful and important we are, and then send it to thousands of people who, if they think we’re as wonderful as we think we are, will pay us to make art.”
Audiences for classical concert music have been diminishing steadily for decades. The best way to reverse this process is to stop doing self-centered promotion and start doing audience-centered sales. But this requires humility and a willingness to make customers a top priority, which – after so many years of using marketing materials to kiss their own asses – is something classical music administrators may never be able to do.