Building Customer – Artist Relationships case study

One of the APACA 2014 venues

Museum of Old and New Art

AMA is all about exploring the world of arts marketing and bringing it to the local context.

In ‘The Story of “YOU”, presented at the APACA Conference in Hobart, Joel Tan clearly showed how to develop strong, meaningful interactions between customers and artists in a regional arts centre. Tan, the Director of Community Engagement for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) in San Francisco, described the issues facing many U.S. arts centres. San Francisco arts organisations, like others around the country, are struggling with severe financial difficulties.

They suffer from dwindling audiences and increased problems in reaching the core audience group as the local area becomes gentrified by high-income tech workers, forcing the alternative population to move out. This gentrification, according to Rebecca Solnit, is“just the fin above the water. Below is the rest of the shark: a new American economy in which most of us will be poorer, a few will be far richer, and everything will be more homogeneous and more controlled and more controllable”.

As a result, a city universally known for its liberal culture is now the number-one city in the United States for wealth disparity.

So what does this have to do with marketing? It connects to the balance an arts centre must strike between the need to bring in a new audience and the need to maintain its own artistic integrity. Tan noted that the newcomers to the area may not be regular attendees at artistic/alternative events. He observed that the arts organisation should not vilify newcomers to the area but instead should embrace them and focus on delivering its programs to the new audience.

The YBCA is a facility that focuses on ‘personal and social transformation’ connecting with theatre and art. It has a 757-seat theatre and a 500-person capacity performance space. Part of the theatre marketing, encompassing both the entrenched goals and mission of the YBCA, is the all-access membership program called the YOU program.

Tan used real-life example of Henri Lawrence, a math teacher and an accountant, to illustrate the benefits of the program. The YBCA: YOU program moves away from the ‘transactional model’ as ‘[it wants] to make arts engagement the habit’ by having the audience have an experience aimed at ‘broadening and expanding one’s artistic and creative self. For $15 per month, members can access all YBCA’s films, performances, and galleries. The program is similar to Pandora or Netflix, but ‘YOUers’ (as they are called) get access to exclusive programs like book clubs, post-show events, and art making workshops.

Within this atmosphere, friendships are formed and views are exchanged. The YOUers also get an opportunity to work with a mentor to get deeper engagement and increased satisfaction. As Tan said, ‘it’s like having a trainer for your art life or a creative case manager’. What this means is deeper engagement with the artistic product. This linking with the brand of YCBA works to create demand. The deep engagement and understanding of the case was clear in Henri’s explanation of how he has deepened his artistic engagement.

One day, Henri was feeling frustrated in the galleries. Henri was frustrated because he wanted to connect to the art immediately and he just wasn’t. Sarah, sensing his distress, invited Henri to sit with her on the gallery floor as she listened. And he talked and Sarah listened. For a long while. Mostly not about art. They sat on the gallery floors and at the end of this session, Henri expressed gratitude for just being with the art and our Live Guide. Since then, Henri regularly attends exhibitions to sit, make time, and practice not knowing.

Deep engagement, like Henri’s, must be the future for arts companies to separate themselves from just another marketing message. I would argue regional companies have an opportunity to set up some type of YOUer arrangement with their theatre/gallery goers. They will need to break down the barriers of resistance in local towns, many of which are facing rapid growth (through industries like mining) or decline due to changes in town fortunes.

The Australian companies must always look to bring in new audiences. These new audience problems and opportunities pervade the Western global economy, with the same issues of engagement that appear in regional Australia also occurring in the American arts industry.

We need to redefine the way we look at audience: to activate and engage.

Smartphone Access to Arts Websites

Just look at smartphone growth

Just look at smartphone growth

In designing a website for a Arts company the responsiveness of the landing page to mobile phone usage is vital.

Most booking nowadays are taken via the internet, so having an easy to access page is vital.

The Belvoir St Theatre’s website would have to be one of the most efficient in delivering customers to the ticket sales.

In times past theatre companies tended to overload their sites with images and information, Belvoir has moved right away from those notion. Those who do want to find out more about the company, can still do that, but its primary aim is to quickly drive uses to ticket sales.

This is in response to the customer desire, the client can easily, thanks to search engines, find out information about a show, but to buy tickets, especially mobile customers.

Belvoir's site and the shrink test

Belvoir’s site and the shrink test

Belvoir’s is a fully responsive website, ie can be easily read on mobiles, tablets and desktops. So when I’m in a cafe in Darlinghurst I can easily check out what’s on a Belvoir St. This is not the case for several other notable theatre companies.

You need your site across all forms as the graph shows the growth in smart phone use.

I easily chartered my way through the ticket payment system on my phone.

To check out the responsiveness of a website simply shrink the window on your browser to that of a phone, if it shrinks, its responsive, if not, they have a non responsive website.


The hero in arts social image posting

The Hero says Goodbye

The Hero says Goodbye

For the second time this week effective arts social media marketing has drawn me to the Australian Ballet Facebook page.

This time its about the use of the image. I have focused on the posting of an image relating to Lucinda Dunn’s retirement from the Australian Ballet after 23 years with the company.

There are three important points to consider when posting an image.

1. Choose an easy to recognise structure: In this image with have ballet dancer wishing farewell. This is a icon of the sad, amazing farewell, with a smile on her face and tear in her eye, also with glow of the athlete.

2. Develop a strong hero: Here Lucinda is a legend with the company, a perfect focus with her 23 of dance service. The artists farewell is the climax of a long journey.

3. Add details to make your story real: This farewell image has been built up my social postings all week of “Luci” in rehearsal, being farewelled by her colleagues. In this week long posts the Aus Ballet has also promoted hashtages for other social media platforms. This image is the climax of a social media narrative.

The image promotes affection for the dancer and the company, as dancers know that to sustain a 23 year career with one company is amazing.

With over 1600 likes, 73 shares and over 40 comments in 12 hours this is a wonderful post that celebrates dance, the individual and the affection the audience has for her.


Developing the Audience through Video Streaming

Video streaming is a very effective way of marketing your arts company.

So how do post effectively on YouTube.

I thought I’d have a look at the Sydney Dance Company YouTube site

Firstly, the quality of the video needs to be considered. Video production can be expensive, lighting, sound, shot quality are all considerations. This means your video footage needs to be seen by a sizeable to be cost effect. The 1300 odd that saw this video covers that target.

Also a video may be part of both your pre &  post production engagement, which are both important for building audience. My article on the arch of audience engagement explains that around 80% of people wanted to do some level of preparation before they see a production and 25% do post production analysis. This post productions explanation can be vital in forms like dance where the ideas are not always clear to even an intelligent audience.

The video for the Interplay #3 for the Sydney Dance Company was one of a series made by Peter Grieg for the production.

The video effectively explain the subject matter of the show, displaying how the narrative and emotion of the dance was drawn from the music of Bach. Rafael Bonachela’s, the choreographer, lively explanation of his work through compelling voice overs make for lovely communication of the production’s creation. The dance sequences give enough of the show to tease the potential audience

The length of 4 1/2 minutes is enough to explain the show for post viewing analysis. The explanation by the sexy Bonachela gives the post production video viewer a discussion point with their partner, or other dance goer. An insight shared post production over a glass of wine by two patrons is like gold for arts marketers as it could signal return business.

The point of a video is that it is not an advert, it is a conversation starter, to fill in knowledge on the show, so people can take the small information bit into a conversation about Bach, dance or life. All links back to the show.

The SDC video is certainly worth a look at for video social sharing.

Australian Ballet Facebook Cover

The Australia Ballet Facebook cover draws us in.

The Australia Ballet Facebook cover draws us in.

As far a social media art marketing pages is concerned the Australia Ballet would have to be one of the most effective in Australia.

The subject matter may have a lot to do with that, people love dancers, but the effectiveness of its social media goes beyond the allure of the dancers .

The Facebook cover is part of this social media appeal. Let’s take the key statement as our starting point: “Caring for tradition, daring to be different”. Trying to link the notion of ballet, a form of strict disciplines with a new society. It is the alliteration of the  d sound, in ‘daring’ & ‘different’, that appeals to younger aspiring generation.

The main dancer image is clear and understated, the curved flow line of light and dark brings us slowly to the image of the female dancer, somewhat holding back, with her hands held close to her, the image suggests a very subtle sexuality, never overstated. She is looking back, like a flamenco dancer, inviting us to come closer, but holding back. The black and white adds rendering  adds to the romance of past and present.

The image has no clumsy words over the top, no annoying “call to action”, just the profile shot naming the company.

The title in the profile box “The Australia Ballet”, also in black and white, it like the firm step of the dancer, telling us where we are.

The page gives links to images of the company through the photo page and Instagram feed. Ticket information is available with a clear link too.

It is easy to see why the Australian Ballet page has risen in Facebook likes by around 12 000 in the last year. 

Every Facebook Post Counts

STC snip

Effective social media marketing

So many times I read a post for a Arts website and I think what is the purpose behind this post.
Where is the relevance to what you are selling.
I ask myself three questions in all posts:
1. How does this expand the companies like-ability?
2. Is this interesting, engaging or informative?
3. What is the direct / indirect call to action?

Looking at this effective post by the Sydney Theatre Company you can see the photo grabs your attention by its use of puppets.

The call to action is clear: inviting you to the workshop and asking you to tag the social image.

It invites you to be part of the creative process in the most friendly of tones.

This lovely tone is followed through in the comment posts by both audience members and a STC social media staffer.

Every facebook post is a valuable part of your companies advertising budget. Effective posting gets your artists publicity and drives the audience to be part of your show.

Check out the Sydney Theatre Company post here

Case Study: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Arts Marketing Australia is a company dedicated investigating the best examples of marketing artistic organisations from across the world. This case study a company can grow from an elite audience to a new and broader audience.

When it comes to effective artistic marketing 555466_415502971829874_1791824601_nthe ideas always come best from what place? The Artistic heart and meaning of the company. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment works perfectly as a company at tune with its audience. It also recognised that it must grow, educate and entertain its potential audience to grow.

Too many arts groups have a grown up with idea of having a restricted audience of elite art follows and seeked to satisfy this group, by appealing to its desires. On the other hand they sometimes try to appeal to a different audience, but can offend their traditional base.

The OAE defies this state to create a company that satisfies all trends. It is a company that plays classical music on period instruments. Working on this basis, one might think that OAE is a bit a museum piece, but the company has grown its audience without alienating its existing somewhat specialized base.

OAE has done this by setting up a multi prong marketing approach they builds on the innovative nature of a relatively new classical company.

The first thing one notes when you visit the company’s website is the seamless and easy viewing website. Not cluttered like to many arts websites, but low key with informative links. The page invites you in without jumping down your throat with calendars; links, slide galleries and an urge too donate.

But its approach to its audience goes deeper, it has created a new audience, targeting the cultured 18 – 35 group the company took the orchestra venues such as bars and night clubs. It took an integrated approach using live musicians (non-classical) to introduce the show and DJ afterwards. This program was built up thorough a program of blogging, twitter, Facebook, and student University involvement. The selection of venues that had an innovative and educated base was essential.

The company also ran subpages to its Night Shift program on its website, so the site exists within its own parameters within the OAE website. Importantly the Nightshift program was not seen necessarily as a driver to its regular program, rather it has its own identity, while still playing the interesting works in its program

They also produce vox pops, podcast and concert merchandise.

OAE has also created another program called The Works, “giving you the low-down on selected classical masterpiece in a friendly, relaxed and informative style”. The concerts are in an informal style with an opportunity to talk to the musicians about the instruments and the music. This way the audience get educated into the new forms the OAE is dedicated to present to a wonderful world. Presented at 7 pm it give people time to see the show straight after work and still be home to tuck in the kids.

classical-music-quote1These kids are reached by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment through its educational program, the program reaches out to students at school level, in their own school and at theatres.

There is nothing unique in this companies approach, but what is clear is the appeal the company makes to market segments. Segmentation is a key idea in communicating its art. OAE does this without comprising its commitment to classical music played on period instruments, presenting this pure artistic product in the right manner and the audience will grows to love the company.

Further details can be found The Night Shift can be found at the Cultural Hive.

How can your audience be increased?

Arts Marketing Australia can help update your marketing approach to your artist product. Contact me to find out more.


Case Study: Coca-Cola is ‘Out of Order’

Arts Marketing Australia is a company dedicated investigating the best examples of marketing artistic organisations from across the world. This case study of an activist community displays how a low cost campaign can activate a community.

The case study is that of the activist Out of Order campaign. This campaign is a clear example of how a low cost social media campaign can cause an enormous amount of buzz in community. This is important because small artistic companies need to know how to exponentially grow its audience reach. While major arts companies may have the ability to employ marketing people and consultants, small companies need to learn from the simplicity and imagination of the Out of Order campaign.

CaptureThe Out of Order campaign revolves around the seemingly mundane issue of container deposit legislation (CDL) in the Northern Territory, Australia. The Northern Territory introduced a 10 cent refundable deposit on all bottles in 2012. Major bottlers, including Coca-Cola, took legal action against the Northern Territory government as it was seen as a restrict action for one state or territory to do so; therefore, it was deemed illegal. Even though the court action was successful, it resulted in a protest that was organised through social media. The Tasmanian-originated campaign goal was to heighten the public awareness of the issue and to affect the profitability of the company. To do this, the organisation came up with the simple idea of putting up an ‘out of order’ sign on Coca-Cola vending machines. These vending machines were selected because they were clearly branded and are the most iconic brand. The out of order sign could be easily printed at home and stuck on a Coca-Cola vending machine quickly, and it would deter business because it looked like a genuine out of order sign. The QR code gave a link to the campaign’s Facebook page. People were then encouraged to take a photo of the machine and post it on the Facebook page. Photographing the sign on the vending machine was a vital part as it linked the action to a wider group and shares ideas with Facebook friends. The Coca-Cola company’s legal action against the relatively small government of the NT gave the campaign a kind of David vs Goliath nature, and this was cheekily done again by the Out of Order protest. It had a low profile and low risk social disobedience action that was quite clever and amusing as the viewer got a vicarious pleasure out of seeing the sign produced in locations around the world. The campaign on Facebook was quite effective with over 5,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook, and reportedly over 800,000 reached in one week of the campaign.  Though largely ignored by the mainstream media for reasons not speculated in this report, it was covered in regional press and blogs.

The Out Order campaign had also worked with other activist campaigns. Greenpeace filmed a pro CDL, anti-Coca-Cola TV commercial funded by a crowd sourced social media and email campaign. The advertisment was initially accepted by Channel Nine and due for broadcast during the Friday night football, but was suddenly rejected by the station. After it was banned, the advertisement exploded on YouTube with over 800,000 views. The banning of the advertisement was possibly the worse result for Coca-Cola as it again perpetuated the David vs Goliath nature.Capture3

Coke planned its own campaign after facing a ‘barrage of negative commentary on Facebook  and Twitter’  with a $1 million giveaway. The company had a series of big red boxes that was to be revealed in prominent positions (like outside costumes house in Sydney Circular Quay). This was hijacked by a group of activists dressed as ‘Brenda, the Social Disobedience Penguin’. The effective demonstration only lasted a few minutes, but in that time a photo was gathered of the penguins holding the signs on the book. Thus a social media image was created.

This campaign displayed how passion, simplicity, persistence, and humour created an effective social media market buzz. Stunts can be a very effective way of cutting through the media clutter of the world today.

How can your audience be increased?

Arts Marketing Australia can help update your online approach to your artist product. Contact me to find out more.

Case Study: Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

Arts Marketing Australia is a company dedicated investigating the best examples of marketing artistic organisations from across the world.

This case study focuses on the British Museum’s exhibition, Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. The British Museum is known for its collection of antiquities, like the Rosetta Stone and mummies. In 2011, the museum put on a major exhibition for the Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry.  Perry, a larger-than-life character, is known for his ceramic vases (and his cross dressing). The campaign was one that was to launch the British Museum a contemporary art venue for major exhibitions as well as to get 60,000 people to spend at least 10 pounds on the exhibition. The campaign included extensive focus group research into the three main target audience segments developed from Morris Hargreaves McIntyre’s Culture Segments and focused on three main target segments and how they might be reached. The research showed that with this segmented approach, arts organisations are able to effectively build an audience as these markets have an inclination to patronise the arts. The concept was to create buzz around the exhibition to inspire word-of-mouth discussion around it. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful tool to encourage purchases. The idea was to look at the various segments of the culture market and to target social media and other marketing tools into strategies that would appeal to a particular group.

imagesThe three target segments identified were the Expression, Stimulation and Essence groups. The Essence segment had an intellectual approach to art and were familiar with Perry’s work. They were wary of marketing strategies and preferred self-discovery. The marketing approach was to compliment the ‘independence and sophisticated tastes’ of this group.

The Expression segment had not heard of Perry as an artist or thought of him as ‘self-promoting and controversial’. They liked the idea of him as a skilled craftsman, and they wanted to be part of the controversy and debate that was developed through reviews and blogs.

The Stimulation segment had a high awareness of Perry; embracing his controversial personality, and they were frequent users of social media. To target this group, the campaign was to embrace this desire for them to try something new and engage them early in the event timeline,  knowing that they could become social catalysts for the exhibition.

For this exhibition, it was decided that the cultural segments would be targeted a different times in the program by different marketing messages and channels.

The Stimulation group would be targeted in the months leading up to the exhibition, while the Essence and Expression groups would be targeted in the months up to and during the early opening of the exhibition, leaving the the other groups to tail through. The concept is that the Stimulation, Essence and Expression groups would drag the other groups into the exhibition.

The campaign was to use many platforms, but it was word-of-mouth that aimed to stimulate. The idea was to get people talking and communicating about the exhibition in the stream of social media. The playful and fun initial campaign used Perry’s teddy bear, Alan Measles, as a focal point. Alan Measles, took pride of place on the back of Perry’s artwork bike. The playful idea was that Measles was to special to Perry and this meant to leave on the bike throughout the exhibition would be too much for Perry, so stunt doubles of his precious bear would needed. The marketing team filmed a YouTube video with Perry to publicise the competition.  Each bear that was shortlisted had a profile on the museum’s website. The voting was done via Twitter, and this put the votes into the social news feed. This created interest as people who viewed the profile thought the whole concept was amusing and humorous, and it was a great way of making fun of a serious place that is the British Museum. It also touched the hearts of many people as they recalled or shared their childhood memories, and this joyful aspect was relived by a possible visit to the exhibition. These teddy images were also posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where they were often retweeted and ‘liked’. In addition, the marketing team created posters and badges with Perry’s teddy bear on them and handed them out at University Orientation weeks. The Museum restaurant also had a Teddy Bear afternoon tea that was fully booked out. This fun and cute campaign appealed to its intended audience, and it was covered by major UK newspapers and blogs. At the end of the campaign, 300 bears were entered in the competition, 2,500 votes were cast and the site had 50,000 page views.

Targeting the Essence segment of the UK cultural group the marketing team developed a series of YouTube video of him making his art and it gained over 200,000 views. Other British museum curators established blogs that related to Perry’s work, and audience blogs were also encouraged.

The expression segment was targeted in a different way, such as looking at the craft of his work and working with blogs by the Craft Council Collective. In addition, with every blog post, people were able to join a special lunch time Twitter conversation.

The campaign was a resounding success. It wildly exceeded the target audience with a margin of 100% over the targeted attendance, a 500% increase in shop sales, and a membership increase. Feedback indicated that it helped reinvigorate the British Museum brand, and the campaign displayed a strong audience echo which means long term audience gains.

How can your audience be increased?

Arts Marketing Australia can help update your online approach to your artist product. Contact me to find out more.