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Engaging Matters


1323725467 48 Engaging MattersThe coverage of the National Arts Marketing Project’s Conference in November has been extensive and interesting. (Is it only me or is NAMP Conference an odd, unwieldy name for a gathering of marketers? do a search and you also get the National Association of Meat Packers. . . . But I digress.)

Since I’ve started to share some of my idiosyncratic notions about marketing, I thought it would be a good idea to see what real marketers were saying and what some of the big takeaways from the event were. I tried to accomplish this by following what Americans for the Arts’ bloggers had to say.

(As a reminder, I break out in hives when I hear people talk about marketing techniques for arts organizations. it sounds to me way too much like tricks to get people to do things they don’t really want to do. yes, I know that’s simplistic, exaggerated, and not infrequently untrue. But coming from a community engagement perspective, the essence of successful marketing seems to me to be rooted in relationships and programming rather than techniques.)

I was pleased by what I discovered in this search. Despite the fact that the language of marketers differs from mine in some respects, there did seem to be a deep awareness that relationships are key to long-term success. in The Curious Case of Community Curation, Stephanie Spalding observed that “if you or someone you love is considering a serious commitment to audience development  beyond the occasional event or focused ticket deal, then it is time to commit to knowing and serving the community.” She went on to say:

How can we expect to retain a group of people if we aren’t continuing to cultivate them? make way for an audience development campaign that identifies specific groups to reach and laces a season with efforts (that carry over for seasons to come??) This is where cohesion can be found, and where we find a targeted audience being moved to return — because we acted as audience curators. This is where community relations and audience retention exist together.

My heart could hardly get much warmer. . . . at least on the topic of marketing.

In Will You Remarry Me?, Jarin Hart discussed keynote speaker Scott Stratten’s admonition to arts organizations to work on maintaining existing relationships and not take them for granted when pursuing new audiences. I will confess that an aspect of this thinking makes me nervous. in the arts, current attendees/patrons sometimes resist efforts to reach out to new populations, especially if it means going outside “the canon.” Overfocus on this group could undercut engagement efforts with new communities.

What I applaud in the will You Remarry Me? argument is the acknowledgement that we are talking about relationships. and, just as Ms. Spalding said in slightly different words, it’s an on-going long-haul effort.

And I would be remiss if I did not point you to the streaming of Scott Stratten’s keynote address as Ms. Hart did for me. (His talk actually begins at 15:20 into the video. You’ll thank me for that info.) Scott is insightful, funny, and extremely entertaining. I seldom watch entire keynotes when they are available online. This one I did. plus, I don’t know if NAMP has always posted its keynote addresses, but watch this and imagine what mr. Stratten would have said to them if they had not!

Engaging Matters

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