Dream Big, Arts Marketers!
Earlier this month, I attended the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (affectionately known as NAMP) for the first time in several years. It was a great event! There was a very well-balanced mix of sessions, and I appreciated the attention given to inclusivity and accessibility, like the rule that all comments addressed to a whole room of people must be spoken into a microphone.
I led a session on the last day of the conference called “Take These NAMP Dreams and Make Them Real,” a wrap-up session that gave attendees time to work together and summarize what they’d learned over the previous two days, and create an action plan for following up on new ideas. We discussed surprises and successes, and wrote up our to-do lists for the following days, weeks, and months.
The hour went by quickly. People shared lessons and takeaways from their favorite sessions, and a few big themes emerged:
1) Video is everything in 2018 arts marketing.
The ubiquity of video is an incredible opportunity for those putting on live performances, and we’re still not doing enough. Every show should have a trailer or at least a series of Instagram-Story-style clips. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just thoughtful and on-brand. The specifics will look different for each organization, but anyone with a smartphone at their disposal (i.e., most people) can and should be thinking about how to use video in their marketing messages.
2) Entertainment and enthusiasm are infectious.
“Influencers” are just folks who get out in the community and express excitement… about you! Find them in your existing audience by searching hashtags and keywords on social media platforms, or create them by identifying loyal repeat patrons and explicitly encouraging them to invite their friends.
3) Everyone wants more data.
We’re still missing chances to collect contact information from people who engage with our organizations, whether it’s museums that don’t charge admission not asking for a name and email address at all or theaters with day-of walk-up cash sales doing the same. When thinking about how to use that data, it’s all about understanding current audiences and therefore identifying possible new ones — over and over again, the big questions remain “WHO ARE YOU?” and “WHY ARE YOU HERE?” Learning more about why patrons make their purchasing/attendance decisions was a key refrain.
This only scratches the surface of the valuable lessons and conversations that came out of NAMP this year — I believe there will be content and resources made available to folks who are members of Americans for the Arts via the official website. What are your arts marketing dreams for 2019? What new ideas or initiatives can you commit to taking on? What success story will you be ready to tell by this time next year?