Patron Motivation — The Stuff That Drives Your Customers

Today’s guest blog post is written by Kathryn Schmitt, Data Project Coordinator, PatronManager. 

The psychological concept of motivation is too often neglected in the world of business. While many professionals have caught on to the influence of emotion over marketingthe reality is that making someone feel is only half the battle. The word emotion comes from the Latin root “to move”, and what we really want is for our customers to take action as a result of how they feel. Keep invoking emotion, but considering emotional responses in terms of motivation rather than feelings will give you a clearer direction and further insight into your marketing campaigns.

Motivation matters because it’s the catalyst responsible for every action. It is not only beneath every purchase decision but every move we make day to day. Unmotivated patrons will simply not show up or spend money, and those aren’t the kinds of patrons we want. Deciphering what truly motivates someone to buy, donate, or attend could be the key to increasing the efficacy of your marketing. Your customers must experience motivation in order to give you their business, and it’s your job to make that happen.

Donation Motivation

Have you spent enough time thinking about what drives your funders to give? Remember that when it comes to being charitable, people act from the heart instead of the head. Avoid using only facts and figures with percentages and fund allocations; make your appeals meaningful and personal, and tell your donors why they should care and how much their patronage means to your organization. Research shows that donors give when they are moved or personally invested, but also when they feel like they are a part of a community and connected to others; so make sure your patrons know that they’re a part of the collective and an essential piece of your puzzle. The next time you solicit donations, try to get inside the hearts of your donors and hone in on what drives their motivation to give; and keep in mind that feeling a part of something meaningful is a substantial human motivator.

Audience Motivation

If you’re a theater company, have you ever asked yourself why people go to the theater? And if you think you know the answer, does it play a prominent enough role in your marketing? Researchers have conducted qualitative studies of specifically what motivates audience members to attend a performance. They discovered that theater-goers were driven by a shared value for and regard of culture at a high level. Furthermore, they identified four main motivators behind theater attendance:

  • Edutainment — the chance to learn something new through media.
  • Escapism and Entertainment — seeking relief from reality by engaging with and witnessing a performance
  • Social Hedonism — the pursuit of pleasure as a communal experience
  • Personal Enrichment — the desire to expand and develop one’s knowledge, values, and resources

From these four, researchers were also able to categorize audience members into two main motivating categories: they seek either intellectual stimulation or a sensory experience. What are some ways you can advertise your events to address these motivating factors? Can you emphasize the learning value, by drawing their attention to the knowledge they might gain from that particular show? Could you focus on the social aspect, by offering incentives to attend in groups? Can you lean your marketing towards a more candid offer of escapism from real-world unpleasantries?

Different segments of your audience will have varying motivations, but their motivations matter either way. Have you tapped into the “whys” of people attending events like yours? Connecting to their intrinsic motivators will color your advertising for the better.

Don’t Forget your Staff

While you’re busy running your arts organization, don’t put all your energy into your customers and neglect to consider your employees! A motivated or unmotivated staff can make or break the success of your company. Smaller arts organizations and nonprofits may be glad to hear that Dan Pink’s research finds that humans are not as money-driven as we’ve all been told. Humans are motivated by having autonomy (an intrinsic desire to be self-directed); mastery (the desire to continue to grow and improve something important to you); and purpose (the sense that our actions serve something meaningful beyond ourselves). Giving your staff members ownership over their projects and ideas, as well as cultivating a community that has a meaningful purpose larger than itself, will motivate them to work diligently and enthusiastically. And hard-working, passionate, motivated employees are the people responsible for drawing in your patrons and making your organization a success.

We tend to take the concept of motivation for granted, and just assume it’s inherently considered as we design our marketing campaigns. But research shows that it’s the combination of emotion with an emphasis on motivation that makes a truly successfully marketed organization. So connect with your inner motivations, think hard about the things that drive you, and use those motivators to draw people in. Educate yourself on Patron Motivation, and your business will thank you!

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