Back to the E-Future: What a Difference (Nearly) a Decade Makes!

We started Patron Technology exactly nine years ago this week, and as I thought about how to mark this anniversary, I was reminded of an article I wrote that was posted on our website in 2002.

Here’s how it started:

Arts marketers, mark this moment. We’re witnessing the dawn of a new and astonishingly powerful age – the age of e-mail marketing. The promise of the web to transform our lives is only partially correct. It’s e-mail marketing that will make the real difference.

The prevailing wisdom at the time was that most e-mail would never been seen as anything more than spam, and that nothing good could come by creating more of it. However, smart marketers got on board and began using professional approaches to editorial and design, and many arts patrons now find e-mail their preferred means of staying in touch with arts organizations.

Later in the article, I noted:

…a recent survey of 20 New York area arts organizations reveals that arts marketing hasn’t really changed much in the last few decades. Marketing budgets are still a mix of print ads, flyers and brochures, direct mail, telemarketing and radio spots.

Well, we certainly can’t say the same for change in the last decade! There have been profound changes to the arts marketing landscape, and the rate of change is continuing today, if not increasing.

In these nine years, I’ve given hundreds of seminars around the country. I’ve recently noticed an undercurrent in the community of arts managers, which I felt mostly strongly at a meeting at the Houston Arts Alliance last Friday. The energy in the room was palpable; there now seems to be a real sense of urgency for innovation and improvement.

It’s time for new approaches to arts management, and these approaches will be supported by new technology. Nine years ago we put a stake in the ground and bet that the key factor in moving the field ahead would be e-mail marketing. Likewise, we’re now putting our money on Customer Relationship Management, the most important new technology for arts managers to come along in the last 50 years.

The Future Is CRM

We launched our newest product, PatronManager CRM just a few weeks ago. If you missed the article I wrote last month introducing it.This time around we’ve taken a new approach to product development by partnering with a $1 billion Silicon Valley company,, and its Salesforce Foundation. This partnership enables us to bring Fortune 500-grade technology that combines ticketing, subscriptions, day-to-day task, fundraising, and e-mail marketing in one web-based system. We designed it specifically to meet the needs and budgets of small and mid-sized arts organizations. Because most clients don’t pay an annual fee, we’ve created quite a stir.

I was thrilled last week when Fox Business News picked up on what we’re doing. They invited me to come talk about CRM and why I think it will revolutionize the arts. You can watch that interview here:

Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century

It has always been our philosophy that our role in the arts community is not only to bring innovative products to market but also to help introduce and educate arts managers about how new technology and techniques can dramatically improve audience development. Toward that end, I’m pleased to announce our fourth annual full-day “E-marketing E-mersion E-vent,” taking place onSeptember 16th in New York and subtitled “Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century.”

This year we’ve assembled a stellar group of invited speakers to join our staff in presenting an overview of the most important trends in arts marketing and technology.

I’m going to start the conference by revealing the results of our most recent national arts patron survey. Each year we survey tens of thousands of arts patrons, to understand why they go online and what they expect from arts organizations on the web. I think you’ll find the results eye-opening.

You’ll also hear from Damian Bazadona, the president and founder of Situation Interactive, the marketing and advertising agency that was responsible for 2009’s “Next to Normal” Twitter performance. Damian’s company is on the forefront of using social media on Broadway, and what they are doing is inspirational.

Ken Davenport is one of the most innovative of the next generation of Broadway producers. His blog, “The Producer’s Perspective,” has become a must-read for me on a daily basis. He always has smart and thought- provoking posts. Ken runs interactive workshops for aspiring producers every year, which are a hot ticket. He’s going to recreate his magic for us.

If you follow my blog you know I believe the next big online media shift will be the proliferation of live streaming video. The implications of this for the arts are profound. The fact is, Europe is way ahead of us in this area, which is why I invited Chris Hunt, co-founder of Classical TV, to speak about what his company is doing. is the largest destination for performing arts videos online. If you want a glimpse of the future, this is where you’ll find it.

Way back in December, I wrote an article about dynamic pricing which got a strong reaction. So, we’ll have a session by Rick Lester, of TRG fame, devoted to that subject. You’ll learn the basic principles for using pricing to maximize revenues and create fuller-looking houses.

And, of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without beginner and advanced sessions on social media, CRM, and e-mail marketing. The conference will end with a panel discussion, with our guest speakers looking at what lies ahead for the next decade.

I think this is our best conference line-up yet, and I hope you’ll find an excuse to spend a day with us in New York this September. We have a limit of 175 seats, and there are only 75 left.

Looking Ahead

Our mission as a company has always been to bring innovative technology at an affordable price to the arts industry. Today we have over 1,750 PatronMail clients, and we’re soon to reach our first 100 PatronManager CRM clients.

I’m gratified that we’ve developed a fantastic and spirited staff that works hard every day to help us achieve our mission, and you to achieve yours.

Thank you for your support, your ideas and your commitment to changing the arts.

Learn More about PatronManager, the powerful CRM platform that helps you sell more tickets, raise more money, and cultivate stronger bonds with your audience, all in one database.

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