Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Biggest Marketing Challenge of the Next 10 Years (Part 3)

Part three of the series features responses from two experienced theatrical marketers--one that works at one of the finest training institutions in the nation, and the other works at a top Broadway marketing and advertising firm.

Anne Trites
Director of Marketing & Communications,
Yale Repertory Theatre
Assistant Professor of Theater Management,
Yale School of Drama

Technology! I think the biggest marketing challenge facing arts organizations is related to the impact of technology on communication with audiences – current and prospective. We used to rely on print and radio advertising, snail mail, email and the telephone to communicate. A great deal of time was spent developing just the right message to be delivered at just the right time to each segment. We would develop tactics to stimulate positive word of mouth to encourage sales. Marketers were largely in control of the message. Technology has already tipped the balance and audiences are quickly gaining that control. Individual audience members offer their opinions frequently and with immediacy on a growing number of platforms. Some have online followings that rival those of professionals. And, the voice of the audience has more authenticity and therefore more clout with their networks than any marketing message.

It’s hard to think about ten years from now only because of the speed at which technology is stimulating change to marketing tools and consumer behavior. Whether it is two or ten years from today, I believe we will become `somewhat’ more transparent marketers working in partnership with loyal fans in our audience. I say `somewhat ‘because I also believe we will use the information we glean about audiences through their online activities. We will still be segmenting audiences and crafting targeted messages which we hope will become viral. In other words, it will be the same but different!

I think the biggest challenge is not about what it will be like in ten years, but how we will get there. Can we be nimble organizations? Can we keep up with the fast pace of change? Can we be proactive and get in front of change? Can we measure our efforts and make wise choices during this period of change?

One more thought … I wonder if our art form will become increasingly unique because it is live. We’re already using the slogan “there is no app for this” at Yale Rep for next season.

Ilene Rosen
Director of Business Development,

I wanted to respond to the question Chad posed with a challenge I think we can tackle. The issue is this. Today’s marketing and advertising environment has not only changed drastically in the last five years, but it is continuing to change, and it is more cluttered than ever.

So, how do we stay focused on SELLING TICKETS?

With the economic downturn and the explosion of new media, we face some tough questions:
What are the most effective forms of advertising now?
How best to use new and social media?
Does print advertising still provide value?

As new media continues to grow as an industry, this list of questions will only expand, and these questions leave me with some concerns:

• I worry that as marketers, we will get so overwhelmed with ‘the clutter’ that it will become more difficult to make good marketing decisions.

• I worry that as more forms of social media become available, we will spend more and more of our marketing energies trolling the Internet aimlessly trying to find/engage audiences.

• I worry that with all of the new and traditional media options to choose from, our attentions will get diverted away from making strategic marketing decisions. As a result, we will make less effective choices about where to focus our dollars and resources.

As we move into the next decade, I hope that we can stay macro: focus on selling tickets. If we make choices based on STRATEGY, I think it will help us be more effective in this elusive marketing environment.

As marketers, we do need to try new things, but we should be strategic about what we are doing or the efforts are wasted. We should repeatedly ask ourselves – could this yield a ticket sale, either directly or indirectly?

We will want to stay on the frontlines of new media, but when we post things on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc., we have to be thoughtful about it and ask ourselves what the strategy is behind every post. We should be able to answer that question.

Over the next decade, we will need to explore, experiment, and take risks, but I believe we can be successful only if we make decisions based on strategy. If we can use macro strategies as guides, it will help navigate us through all of the questions we face moving forward.

1 comment:

Bruce Robinson said...

After reading this double dose of strong ideas I don't worry whether arts marketers will be nimble enough.

Indeed, without strategy social media merely absorbs precious time. The same is true of direct mail, print, broadcast and telephone sales.

Social media present a reality we cannot avoid. Many cities had one newspaper critic and now have none. Our roomful of telephone salespeople struggles to reach people on their land lines. Yet there's such opportunity. Now our whole audience can be critics. Now our audience can find similar people and create communities. And we can get involved ourselves. It may or may not be today's vehicles, but strategy will drive us further into these technologies.