We all know that marketing is the effective telling of a story and the bringing of a product or a service to market through various media. We craft messaging, design creative elements, and draft strategy.
In our work we ask a myriad of questions, including the usual journalistic who, what, when, where, and sometimes how. Those questions are just foundational, really. Fundamental. But, in all your work in for your arts organization, you should always ask yourself, and your team, this one question.
This one question, like I said, is foundational to your marketing campaign. It will shape nearly everything you do and everything you say about the product (read, your musical, opera, play, or concert) you are trying to promote. It will either sink your marketing efforts or it will raise the level of your work to new heights and break new ground.
You see, you have to ask the right questions. If you ask the wrong questions, you’ll be headed in the wrong direction and headed towards disaster. (ok, maybe not that draconian, but you get the idea) Your goal in your marketing is to be crystal clear on what you are offering, so that people can say “Yes!” or say “No.” ;-(
What’s the question?
Why should my audience see this performance?
Now I can just imagine you reading that last sentence and saying, that’s a really dumb question. But wait, let me explain before you click out of this post back to Facebook or your Insta.
Of course, I know that many arts orgs already think they know the answer to this question. They probably think, this show is a fun show, we’ve worked really hard on it, we have the best actors we can cast, etc. But, probe deeper into the root and core of your work to find more meaning. Who needs a dream? Who needs this production?
For example, take the play Angels in America. Why should people see this show? For me, and I’ve never seen the play, just read it. From my perspective, people should see this play because of the masterful writing of Tony Kushner, and how Roy Con deals with his identity in a very complex time in the AIDS epidemic. There’s a social statement here. There’s history, there’s the drama associated with all this.
That’s just one example. Every other major theatrical work has some statement behind it. I also think of The Colored Museum, a play about race. The same issues apply there as well. I could go on listing plays or musicals, or operas, but you get the idea. You’re an organization that produces art not just entertainment.
In the symphonic world, I know of one local arts organization, the Lexington Philharmonic, who is searching for its next conductor and artistic director. I have it on good authority that their upcoming season is comprised of six different concerts. Those concerts are essentially going to be auditions for the candidates for the job. Now, I understand that some, if not all of the candidates, are women. In the relatively small town of Lexington, KY, the leading symphonic group is poised to hire its first female conductor. The reason a person should want to see all six of the performances is that they will get to A. have a voice in who the next conductor will be, and B. see history being made, in the small town.
The question, “Why?” has such power, more power than the others because it reveals more compelling reasons and intricacies. With the compelling reasons, some examples above, you have the opportunity to craft more compelling and clear ad copy, design better and more engaging creative elements like graphics, video, and print materials. Your calls to action (read: buy tickets) can be more clear and necessary.
I think that’s why this question is something that everyone should answer. The answers become a rallying cry to the organization and the clarion call to the community.
There are lots of questions an arts marketer should ask when performing their work. But, what is the one question they should ask and be able to answer? That question is “Why should my audience come to see my performance?”
Now it’s your turn. What are some of the questions you think arts marketing professionals should ask themselves in performing their work?