Friday, December 22, 2006

Off for the holidays...

I am heading back to Missouri for the holidays. I am spending a week on the family farm which doesn't have cable, internet or cell phone services. So, no blogging for the next week. However, I am bringing Joanne Scheff Bernstein's new book "Arts Marketing Insights: The Dynamics of Building and Retaining Performing Arts Audiences" with me. has asked me to write a review of the book. So when I return I will share my thoughts on the book with you. Have a great holiday season!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Time Magazine's Person of the Year

You are Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for the explosive growth and influence of user-generated Internet sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. You were chosen over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea's Kim Jong Il and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Congratulations.

Check out the entire article from CNN here.

I know that I have been focusing on less traditional, viral marketing applications lately. So, my next post will be some advise on direct mail marketing. I am studying several large direct mail campaigns for Americans for the Arts, and I what I am learning, I will share with you. Hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, December 15, 2006

If your marketing isn't working in real life, try second life...

A colleague I work with forwarded this onto me from Andrew Taylor's Arts Management blog:

A good prospect for a (virtual) board member, perhaps...

Anshe Chung has all the elements of a good prospect for your nonprofit board -- she's a millionaire, a real estate mogul, and an innovative entrepreneur with an eye for design and aesthetic value. While it's true that she's not technically a real person, but an on-line character in the virtual world of Second Life...her influence, and her money, is real.

<>Chung is the construct of a Chinese-born language teacher living near Frankfurt, Germany, who has been developing virtual real estate in virtual worlds for a while now. The practice is well established in multi-user on-line environments, where users can not only buy ''land'' but create and sell ''objects'' to other users. The difference with Second Life is that the virtual currency used in the on-line universe is convertible to U.S. dollars (at about 250 to 1).

Chung amassed her millions by buying up islands and exclusive areas of the Second Life universe, developing them with mansions, landscapes, and other such virtual amenities, and imposing strict zoning rules to keep the riff-raff out and the paying customers in. The CEO of the company that produces Second Life describes Chung as ''the government'' for her sequestered islands and continents (more details in this Wikipedia entry, and this Business Week article).
Strange and brain-bending stuff, to be sure. But a glimpse, perhaps, into the multiple worlds -- on-line and off-line -- where creative individuals and entrepreneurs will be creating their work. And if you think this doesn't apply to the lively arts, think again. The proposed New Globe Theater in New York already commissioned and opened a virtual version of the venue in Second Life. Says their overview of the effort (scroll down the page to the August 14 news item):
Since opening its doors, the New Globe has become the rock star of virtual destinations and the it-stage for cultural and intellectual exchange. In-world guest speakers on the stage have ranged from the Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine to the Governor of Virginia. The opening performance featured actors from around the globe who had never met in person ... though time difference for rehearsals did prove a REAL problem!

The real governor of Virginia held a virtual town hall meeting in that virtual performing arts space back in August. Is the world weird enough for you yet?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


National Arts Marketing Project Conference
News Announcing the theme for the 2007 Conference:
Flourishing in the New Frontier: New Media, New Audiences, New Opportunities
November 2-5, 2007Hyatt Regency Miami, FL

You asked for it, you got it! A survey of arts marketers showed you wanted a conference focusing on technology and new audiences. You’ll learn about new media from RSS to pod casts, from blogging to texting, and optimizing e-mail and e-commerce to reach every segment of the marketplace from Millennials to Boomers, and from first generation Hispanics to third generation Asians. But the conference won’t forget the basics. We’ll cover direct marketing, branding and relevant messaging as well. Watch for the Call for Session Proposals, coming soon! It’s the conference for arts marketers by arts marketers!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Arts Marketing Book

Co-Author of Standing Room Only publishes new arts marketing book.

Arts Marketing Insights
The Dynamics of Building and Retaining Performing Arts Audiences
by Joanne Scheff Bernstein

published by Jossey-Bass, an Imprint of Wiley, November 2006
Arts Marketing Insights offers managers, board members, professors, and students of arts management the ideas and information they need to market effectively and efficiently to customers today and into the future. Joanne Scheff Bernstein presents concepts and strategies that address the changing lifestyles, needs, interests, and preferences of current and potential audiences. She helps readers understand the mind-set of performing arts attenders and how to provide excellent customer service. She demonstrates that arts organizations can benefit by expanding the meaning of "valuable customer" to include single ticket buyers. She offers guidance on long-range marketing planning and explains how to leverage the Internet and e-mail as powerful marketing channels. Arts Marketing Insights is replete with vivid case studies and examples that illustrate the author's strategic principles in action from organizations large and small in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and other countries. This book combines the best of proven marketing wisdom with viable new ideas and approaches that arts marketers can adopt to help their organizations thrive while realizing their artistic missions.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is an explanation needed?

I know that several people have contacted me with concerns about MySpace. So I took some time the other day to write this up. Hope it helps if you have to make the case to senior management:

As the baby boomer generation ages and heads toward retirement, Generation X has become the coveted new target market. Generation Xers do not respond well to traditional marketing and advertising mediums, and therefore those mediums have been losing market share during the past decade, including such staples as newspapers, radio, and television.

Generation Xers respond to marketing that can provide the following:
1. an interactive experience
2. exclusive content
3. on-demand timing

Traditional mediums, which previously did not provide these opportunities, are in the middle of a large paradigm shift. They understand the need to reach this target market and are shifting their priorities away from one-way communication vehicles to timely, interactive, on-demand vehicles. For example:

The American Broadcasting Channel (ABC) currently offers via its website ( interactive gaming, video on demand (including full-length episodes), blogs, behind-the-scenes information, mobile phone downloads, podcasting, instant messenger icons, and wallpapers. Current popular television shows, such as American Idol, even ask viewers to use their cell phones to “text message” their votes, allowing the viewer a real opportunity to decide the outcome of a particular episode.

The Washington Post currently offers via its website ( discussion and message boards, on-demand photos and video, podcasting and RSS feeds.

The online content of the two aforementioned companies are geared toward providing an interactive, on-demand experience that offers exclusive content that cannot be found in other locations.

The Case for MySpace

MySpace is an online social-networking site that is currently the most visited website in the United States, and one of the top ten visited sites on the entire Internet. MySpace continues to grow at an astonishing rate. The site had 17 million monthly visitors in July 2005, and currently boasts 54 million monthly visitors. MySpace features nearly 100 million personal profiles posted by users, many of whom are in their teens and twenties. Even more astonishing is that the average MySpace user spends two hours per visit on the site.

Advantages of using MySpace:
- MySpace offers a chance for companies to take their marketing into new, potentially more lucrative territory, by becoming, in effect, members of their customers’ network of “friends.”
- MySpace allows for a two-way interactive experience with a company’s brand. MySpace visitors can leave comments, send you a message, and rank your page.
- MySpace provides a means for distributing information that normally wouldn’t be found elsewhere, including blogs, vlogs, on-demand music/video, photos, podcasts, and bulletins.
- Return on investment: creating a MySpace page doesn’t cost a dime and allows you to access 100 million people.

The advantages of MySpace attract the Generation X market by providing an interactive, on-demand experience that offers exclusive content that cannot be found in other locations.

There is a concern that companies that use MySpace will alienate potential customers by being overtly commercial in an informal atmosphere. Kevin George, Marketing Executive a Unilever (see case studies below) addresses this concern with the following, “we need to be engaging with our customers, not banging them over the head with brandalism that pollutes their space. When you deliver 18- to 24-year-old guys content they want to engage with, they don’t mind if it comes from a brand.” John Deighton, the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, addressed the same concern in an interview for Harvard Business Journal (August 16, 2006) Deighton states:

An old rule of thumb in the advertising industry was “relevance and likeability.” If ads had both, no one seemed to feel manipulated when their sitcom was interrupted by a commercial message. That goes for MySpace commercial sites. Artic Monkeys, a Sheffield, England, post-punk revival band that is promoted from a MySpace site, is a case in point. The site is credited for their explosive global growth, yet the commercial exploitation of the social network is welcomed by fans. In true punk style the band claims no commercial motive. When asked in an interview with Prefix Magazine about the role of the MySpace site, they claimed that the site had originally been created by their fans.

Case Studies

In 2006, Unilever, a consumer-goods giant, partnered with Christine Dole to promote Axe, a deodorant. Ms. Dolce, who goes by the alias ForBiddeN, boasts around 900,000 “friends” who link to her MySpace page. She was perfect to draw in the 18- to 24-year-old men to whom Axe is shamelessly marketed. Ms. Dolce hosted an interactive game, called “Gamekillers,” based around dating tips and designed to subtly to promote Axe. Some 75,000 MySpacers signed up for it. (The Economist, July 27, 2006)

Hyperactive Music Magazine
Since 2004, Hyperactive Music Magazine has used MySpace to connect with thousands—15,862 to date—of bands, readers, and anyone else interested in the publication. Hyperactive’s MySpace page plays music on a monthly basis from four unsigned bands that convince them in a 25-words-or-less essay that they should be featured. The publisher of Hyperactive says that she get hundreds of essays from bands looking to supply the tunes for Hyperactive’s page. They are looking to expand into music videos and live interviews in the future. (The Albuquerque Tribune, July 2, 2006)

Other Examples
Fox created a profile page for X-Men: The Last Stand. Disney ran a contest to place the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest on the profile page of a MySpace member. Some of the most guarded brands in the nation are using MySpace, including Pepsi Cola, Procter & Gamble, State Farm Insurance, and the United States Marine Corps. Examples of large arts organizations that use MySpace include the Los Angeles Opera, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, Washington National Opera, The Joffrey Ballet, Hartford Stage Company, Lincoln Center Festival, Center Theatre Group (Mark Taper Forum), UCLA Live, MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), and the Getty Museum of Art.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Engage your customers...

I am back just in time for Thanksgiving! I am starting to settle into my new job at the Americans for the Arts. I am sorry that I have been away for such a long period of time, however moving and starting a new job is kind of taxing. I have numerous posts that I am waiting to write, so keep tuned in.

I just finished reading the Wall Street Journal's article entitled Mark Kingdon: Using Social Sites as Dialogue To Engage Consumers, Brands. Check it out.

More to come--I promise!

Friday, November 03, 2006

In transition....

I am in the process of relocating to Washington D.C. It might be a week or so before my next post. As soon as I get myself set-up, I will post more regularly. Let me leave you for the time being with this:

National elections are next week. If you are interested in knowing how your representative or senator has voted on arts related issues during the previous term, the Americans for the Arts has just released its 2006 Congressional Arts Report Card. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Broadway Demographics

The League of American Theatres and Producers released its annual demographics report today. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What the &*#$ is Web 2.0?

If you are like me, you have been hearing a lot about web 2.o lately, and how it is going to revolutionize software and the internet. So this begs the question...what exactly is it. Even if you ask the techno geeks, I haven't really found a good explanation until now. Check out this article, and it will start to make sense.

What is Web 2.0? Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pay attention to attendance...

Attendance is just as important to track as sales. After you sell someone a subscription, you don't want to become complacent. So you have hit your subscription goal this season. Congrats! But now comes the hard part. You need to track which of your subscribers purchased subscriptions but are not attending. These are the folks who will not renew for the following season.

Many people have asked me how Virginia Stage Company maintains such a high renewal rate (last year was 89%). I am certain that one of the reasons we have a high renewal rate is the constant interaction we have with our customers. After each production, I run an attendance report showing which subscribers did not attend. If I see a continuing pattern starting to develop, I contact them either through an email, or telephone, to just talk about their experience with VSC. I don't come on too hard, and usually they tell me right off the bat why they haven't been attending. If it is something that I can correct, or address (and about 90% of the time it is), then I will go out of my way to get them to the theater. I am sure that once they start attending regularly, they will love the experience.

Maintain that personal contact with subscribers who for some reason are not attending. They will appreciate that you are reaching out to them, and addressing their "problems" in a timely and attentive fashion.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Want more subscribers...

Minimize Attrition + Maximize Exposure = More Subscribers.

I will talk later about minimizing attrition, so today I will talk about maximizing your exposure in front of prime target audiences. If you are in a community with a lot of transient populations (i.e. a large military population), then you will want to focus on new movers. Every time a subscriber moves out of the area, you will lose a subscription (naturally). But every time a person moves into your community, there is an opportunity to gain another subscriber. Are you reaching that new target audience? what are you offering them?

To compensate for the loss of subscription income due to relocations, Virginia Stage Company aggressively targets new movers. We send an information packet about Virginia Stage Company, including a coupon for two free tickets, a season brochure, press clippings and a DVD to each new mover in the area that fits our demographic profile. When looking for new subscribers, I look at individuals who have a certain amount of disposable income primarily. However, I also like to target married couples without children, women (primary purchasers) and individuals who have purchased from direct mail in the past twelve years. I learned at a recent conference that the best determining factor on whether or not someone will purchase theater tickets from a direct mail piece is not income, education or marital status (as once thought), but in fact it is their purchase history from direct mail items such as catalogs. If a person has purchased from a catalog in the past twelve months, they are much more likely to respond to your direct mail campaign. Just food for thought.

Create a welcome to the neighborhood packet and send them to every new neighbor that meets your criteria. This way you can mitigate the damages suffered from losing subscribers to relocation.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

On a personal note...

I wanted to share that I have accepted a new position as the Director of Print and Multimedia Communications at the Americans for the Arts in Washington, D.C. My last day as the Director of Communications at Virginia Stage Company will be Friday, October 27. I am also very lucky to be going out with a bang! Virginia Stage Company's current production of CROWNS has become the Company's fourth best selling show in its 28 year history. Leaving Virginia Stage Company is bitter sweet. It is a great organization, and I have had an amazing time there. However, I am ready for the next challenge...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Have Video. Will Share.

So you have bought that new video camera, and you have figured out how to download your digital video clips onto the desktop of your computer. Now you are wondering how you can post your video on your website and share it with the world. You Tube to the rescue. When I was looking at posting video on VSC's blog for the first time several months ago, I knew that I needed someone to host the video. I had to get the video online quickly, and I didn't have time to bother our web designer. So necessity is the mother of invention. I found You Tube online, and it is quick and painless. All you have to do is visit Set up a free acount, and then you are able to upload your video (to a maximum of 100 mb). You Tube then processes your video, posts it to their website, and gives you the html code to post it to your website. You can even email the link out in your e-newsletters. It is easy. It cost no money. It shares your video with millions of people. It is truly a no brainer.

Friday, September 29, 2006

So you want to be innovative?

In today's world, it is tough to stay on the leading edge of marketing technology. Things are constantly changing. I am asked on a somewhat regular basis what is the most innovative thing that you do? How do you stand out from your competition? My answer...thank you notes. Kind of strange, I know. However, think of how many marketing messages you are hit with a day? how many e-newsletters? how many telemarketing calls? now think about how many hand written note cards you get in a day.

When someone receives a hand written notecard in the mail, they know that you have invested the time and energy into sitting down to write one. On average, I write probably five notecards a day. It takes me maybe five minutes each, but the returns on each notecard are amazing. Send them out for the little things--an editor gives you great placement on a story, a salesperson gives you a free ad, a subscriber buys ten extra tickets for their friends, etc. I guarantee you that you will be remembered, and your message will come across as thoughtful.

I learned this lesson while working in a development department. Development professionals are great when it comes to stewardship. As marketing professionals, we can learn something from them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You'll Love It or We'll Eat It!

I love Taco Bell's new guarantee (I know you are probably thinking that I eat out too often now). As you walk into their restaurants, there are big signs on the walls that state, "if you don't like it, we'll make it right or we'll eat it." As a customer, I know that although it only cost me 79 cents, if there is something wrong with my taco, they stand behind their product. I wonder how many people actually ask for a full refund? I bet there are very few...

At the LORT conference, many of my colleagues were talking about offering a money back guarantee. Some theaters had a guarantee already in place, and they noticed that postcards that mentioned the guarantee sold had a much higher ROI than those sent out without the guarantee. But even more interesting was that most theaters reported having ZERO requests for a refund. There are very few people in the world who are argumentative enough to walk straight up to the box office and ask for a full refund even if they had the worst experience ever. So if you provide a good experience to your customers, I would imagine that you have nothing to worry about. Increased sales with little risk...seems like an easy call to make.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"Faith Night" at the Ball Stadium?

We all try inventive ways of bringing in new target demographics into our venues. Some large mainstream attractions have even gotten a lot of press by having particular days dedicated to a target demographic (i.e. Disneyland and gay day). However, this one caught me off guard this morning when I heard about it on CNN Headline News. Now before I go another step, I should say that I myself am a practicing Christian, but is this taking it a step too far?

The Atlanta Braves announced that they will be holding three "faith nights" at the ball park. In an interview with the Vice President of Marketing from the Atlanta Braves this morning on CNN Headline News, he admitted that the primary reason for holding the event is to target the populations of over 5,700 churches in a 70 mile radius of the stadium. That in itself doesn't necessarily bother me. But handing out bibles to everyone that goes through the gate? or better yet, Moses bobbleheads? or how about holding a concert with a Christian Rock band before the game? With a seating capacity of over 50,000, surely they understand that there will be many people attending the game who are not Christian. Will they take kindly when they are handed a bible at the gate? or when forced to listen to Christian worship music? is it an appropriate step to have a major league ball team endorse one religion over the other, going so far as to have a ballplayer as the official spokesman for the event?

On the flip side, I don't know how I would feel if I were a season ticket holder, and when I came to the ball game, I was handed a koran and a free prayer mat with the Atlanta Braves logo on it.

Check out an article on "faith night" here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Initiators' Night (the experiment)

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. We are getting ready to open CROWNS at Virginia Stage Company and things have been a little hectic around here. Today's post is about a program that Virginia Stage Company just launched. We all know that about 80% of your business can be directly traced back to about 20% of your customer base (these individuals being the most influential and enthusiastic customers you have). There have been many names given to these types of customers. At Virginia Stage Company, I refer to them as Initiators. Initiators are the types of people who like to discover new things, and then tell all of their friends about it. They have influence with a large number of people. In short, they are the trendsetters. The key is to get these individuals to adopt your product as the new trend.

At VSC, we have just launched an Initiators' Night at the Wells. We try to locate those Initiators in our community, and then bring them in to sample our product. For example: With Crowns, I researched who I considered to be the most influential people within the African American community of Hampton Roads. These people included pastors of historically black churches, directors of political organizations such as the NAACP, administrators at our two historically black universities, leaders of African American social groups such as LINK, African American media personalities and African American government officials. We even added in owners of African American salons (the thought being they talk to a lot of African American women and could pitch our product for us). We invited over 120 Initiators to the first public performance of CROWNS. We provided them with free tickets, a complimentary catered dinner and an open bar. We made a little pitch to them about the show, asked for their support in getting the word out and then gave them a lot of marketing materials (including flyers for discounted admission). All of them left the performance last night pledging their support. Hopefully we will have 120 advocates in the community to help start a word of mouth campaign.

As they say, the proof will be in the pudding and time will tell. I will let you know how it turns out.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bring your audience "behind-the-scenes"...

Virginia Stage Company's primary reason for launching a blog was to give its patrons a behind-the-scenes view of the Company's operations. The idea being the more the patron is involved in the process, the more interested they will be in attending the production. At first, I spent a lot of time trying to convince the artists to blog about their experiences. Some artists were very willing, while others had no clue to what a blog was. Across the board I found that the closer we got to opening, the less likely they were to blog. I had to find another way to bring our readers behind-the-scenes. I figured the next best thing to hearing directly from the artists would be to watch the artists in rehearsal. I consulted the AEA rules, and found that we were able to use rehearsal video to help promote a production as long as we stayed within some limitations (check your rule book). So we started to post a video clip from rehearsl each week, and we had a fantastic response. Our audience loved it! So now, with every production, we post weekly rehearsal video clips on our blog.

Below is an example from VSC's production of Crowns:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's just around the corner...

Yesterday I was invited by a national communications company to take part in a focus group concerning new advertising opportunities. The invitation was extended to me by the Publisher of a large newspaper, and since it piqued my interest, I decided to attend. The session lasted about two hours, and I was teamed with five other people, who primarily owned large for-profit businesses. The concept: if it was made available, would we take advantage of people's cell phones for advertising? The technology is now in place that makes it possible to send individuals coupons via text messaging. Encoded in the coupon would be a bar code, and the individual would take their cell phone to the box office to receive a discount. Other ideas were passed around during the session, including sending video previews of a performance to media-enabled cell phones. It seems like whether you like it or not, you better get ready to be marketed to via your cell phone.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ideas from my friend at Seattle Repertory Theatre...

Seattle Repertory Theatre has been busy building their own MySpace page. You can check it out at However, Cynthia Fuhrman, SRT's Director of Marketing and Communications, has taken it one step further. Seattle Rep is presenting Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) from October 5 - November 5, 2006. To help get the word out and generate interest, Seattle Rep has created a MySpace page through the eyes of its title character, Thom Pain. This is just another innovative and interesting way that theatres have found to use MySpace. Check out Seattle Repertory Theatre's Thom Pain MySpace page at

Friday, September 08, 2006

Welcome to "Thank God that wasn't me!" Fridays...

Some people say that the type of car you drive is directly proportional to the amount of action you get. The folks over at Honda Motor Company took that a little too literally when they printed up manuals for 18,000 Honda Fits and 8,000 units of the company's 2007 motorcycles. In an attempt to provide customers the number for a government hotline, the manual actually quotes the digits of an even "hotter" line at which a woman -- not the kind of girl you'd bring home to Mom, by the way -- lets callers know that they're welcome to talk at a rate of just 99 cents per minute. Jokes aside, the misprint has irritated enough customers to get the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and affected customers should be receiving a correction in the form of a postcard in the mail somewhat soon.

[Source: Associated Press via Winding Road]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Put those sponsors to work for you...

If you have large corporate sponsors, why not let them work for the marketing department as well as the development department? Tell each of your large corporate sponsors that as a benefit of their sponsorship, you will offer their employees a special discount to specific employees. Ask for their assistance in communicating the discount to their employees and see the dollars roll in. For example: Old Dominion University and Norfolk Southern are large sponsors of Virginia Stage Company. Both have over 1,000 employees and an intranet on which they communicate with them. The President of Old Dominion University and a Vice President of Norfolk Southern sit on our Board of Trustees. I design an attractive email which offers employees of both organizations a 20% discount on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (which are our most difficult performances to sell). I them email it to our Board members, who in turn forward the email onto their employees. Each sponsor organization that is offered a special discount receives an individual password which they use to get the discount. This will allow you to track the success of each campaign. It is a win-win situation. The sponsor feels like they are getting added value to their sponsorship, and the arts organization is getting a lot of free exposure.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Won't you be my friend? and you

I get phone calls from marketing directors every week asking me whether or not they should use to market their arts organizations, and they always get the same response from me: OF COURSE! is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. MySpace currently reports just over 107 million accounts, with the 100 millionth account being created on August 9, 2006. According to recent reports, MySpace attracts new registrations at the rate of 230,000 per day. So what does this all mean to you?

Your audience is using MySpace and probably much more than you think. Virginia Stage Company created its MySpace page in January 2006. Currently, Virginia Stage Company's MySpace page accounts for the most referrals to our website, beating large search engines such as Google and Yahoo. And not only does it beat Google, it has doubled it!

MySpace allows you to interact with a group of "friends" on a regular basis, and it is FREE! There is no better investment out there. Later posts will discuss how to create a MySpace page, how to recruit friends, post pictures, send bulletins and even Instant Message with your customers! In the meantime, if you haven't already, check out MySpace at If you would like to see how an arts organization uses MySpace, check out Virginia Stage Company's MySpace page at

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why not put your email signature to use?

Think about the number of people a day that you email? or even better, how many emails do you think your organization sends out everyday? Why not use your email signature as a guerilla marketing tool to promote your season? It is very simple to do. Just create a graphic and import it into your signature in Microsoft Outlook. If you do not know how to create a signature in Microsoft Outlook, under the help tab click on the Microsoft Office Assistant. Type "insert signature" into the search field. It will give you step by step instructions. Now that you have taken care of your email, encourage others in your organization to do the same thing. That way, every time an email is sent, your marketing message is sent as well.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Blogging...when to use it to raise your organization's visibility.

Ever since my return from the National Arts Marketing Conference in Los Angeles where I presented several sessions on technology and the arts, I have gotten a phone call at least once a week from organizations across the United States asking me why they should have a blog. I have found that blogging is one of the best ways to communicate to audiences, stakeholders and funders in an informal and inviting context. Most direct marketing is carefully crafted to elicit an anticipated response, and hence messaging in such contexts can seem contrived. A blog is an informal exchange between an organization and those interested in an organization. When writing the blog for Virginia Stage Company, I try to keep our posts light and entertaining. We try to offer our readers something that they would never be able to get from any other source. Mostly we try to give them a look into what is going on behind the scenes--from building the sets, casting the actors, rehearsing a play, etc. We provide audio and video from day one of the process until the time the show opens. We invite our creative staff to blog. It gives a director a forum to talk to his audience prior to them coming. It gives an actor the opportunity to discuss the rehearsal process. There is no better way to bring your audiences behind the scenes, and give them access to people they would normally never be able to touch.

Not to mention, setting up a blog is relatively easy and very inexpensive. I suggest going to and signing up for a new blog (which is free). It will take all of fifteen minutes to design a basic blog and you do not have to have any html knowledge. Once it is created, place a prominent link to it on your website. Encourage staff members, including artists, to post. Once that is done, tell everyone about it. Don't be shy. If you keep it interesting as well as valuable, people will love it.