Diane Ragsdale has an interesting post on her Jumper blog this week about uncommitted arts audiences. In it she poses this question:
“…is it really reasonable to expect those lured to our events by aggressive marketing or buzz to be sincerely interested in the arts experience and aware of the rules of the game, so to speak?”
Later in the piece she asks:
“Where are we aggressively luring looky-loos rather than inviting participation?”
[Emphases my own]
At Dictionary.com the definition of ‘aggression’ reads as follows:
The action of a state in violating by force the rights of another state, particularly its territorial rights; an unprovoked offensive, attack, invasion, or the like.
Any offensive action, attack, or procedure; an inroad or encroachment.
The practice of making assaults or attacks; offensive action in general.
Pity the unsuspecting community member minding her own business when militant arts marketers kick in her door, drag her off to the box office and force her to buy tickets. I can certainly understand Diane wondering if this woman’s going to be interested in the event, or whether she’s going to be aware of how to behave. I mean, really, who dresses for the theatre on the odd chance that a SWAT team of nonprofit workers will crash in and haul her off to a show?
As for those looky-loos, I think if they’re looking, they’re fair game, but aggressive luring is a tricky business. We tend to station the marketing team along a perimeter around the theatre and position a guy on the roof who shouts “CELEBRATE” every few minutes. If someone looks, we squeeze the perimeter until they’re forced up to the box office window. If they don’t want to buy, we start screaming “SUBSCRIBE NOW” as loud as we can until they’re lured into submission. It’s effective, but once again, expensive and hard on the old vocal chords.
Arts marketing was a lot easier back when people wanted to come, but times have changed and we have a lot of arts organizations to keep in business. If we have to use aggressive means to get reluctant patrons to come down and cough up some cash, it’s all in the service of art, and that’s a cause worth fighting for.
Speaking of art, we’re launching a new campaign next month: Here’s the header and tag line:
A BREATHLESS, HEART-STOPPING, LIFE-ALTERING EVENT!
You don’t want to miss it. No, really, you don’t want to miss it.