At the day job, I just executed the single most effective marketing tactic that I'll use all year.
It wasn't a brilliant visual rebranding (even though that may be coming)
It wasn't a innovative viral marketing campaign
It was a letter.
To be exact, it was a letter to our subscribers asking them to renew their subscriptions for the upcoming season.
That letter is responsible for generating somewhere between 30% and 40% of all the earned revenue we will make this year.
Of course you are smart enough to know that it wasn't the letter itself that generated the response, it was the relationship we have built with the audience over the past 50 years.
There's really only one way to accomplish that sort of loyalty in the arts. You have to define what your promise to the consumer is and then deliver on that promise over and over agaim.
You do remember that is what a brand is, right? A brand is a promise.
So in that sense we all have a brand. We all have something that we promise to people, for better or worse.
And one of the biggest reasons a lot of emerging (and established) arts orgs are struggling is because either they haven't made a promise with their audience, or they don't deliver on that promise anymore, or no one really likes the promise they made in the first place.
I see it all the time. The young theatre that comes out with the five paragraph mission statement that raves about artistic quality and such, then they program a season that becomes one massive ego stroke for the people in the theatre. Their programming is so all over the place that no one has a clue what to expect.
I can hear you out there though, "what about artistic freedom?" you cry, "what about risk taking?"
Thus, a reminder . . . you can be risky, once people trust you.
You can take people to an unexpectated artistic place, once people trust you.
And building that trust can take a little while.