comments powered by Disqus

TRG Blog: Analysis from TRG Arts


Today may be the good old days for arts marketing!

Rick Lester | April 13, 2010 3:45 PM
I was recently asked by Chad Bauman, the bright young communications director of Arena Stage (Washington, DC), to offer my thoughts about the most significant marketing challenge facing arts organizations in the new decade. He posted a portion of my thoughts on his blog (http://arts-marketing.blogspot.com/) last month. My complete remarks are posted below.

Today may be the good old days for arts marketing.

Know that I’m not a fearful person. In fact, I’m typically quite optimistic about my future, the future of my family, my business and my country. So why do I hesitate when considering the year 2020 and the future of arts and cultural in America? My problem, I think, is found in the simple arithmetic of life. I fear that some very good organizations may be running against a tide of numbers that may ultimately prove overwhelming.

Three decades of selling tickets, raising money and balancing unbalance-able budgets frame this view. But it’s what we see in TRG’s cumulative data on arts and culture buyers that is alarming for arts managers everywhere.

As a young orchestra marketing director thirty years ago, a high proportion of my subscribers were serious avocational musicians. They studied seriously. Many performed chamber music in their homes. As this generation departed from the scene, marketers of the day successfully made a clever transition of message. The new proposition was that current study or performance of the art was no longer a prerequisite. Instead, study and performance as a child was all that was required. To “Subscribe Today,” one could find happiness as a spectator. Participation no longer mattered.

This strategy worked. Across the country we added hundreds of thousands of new subscribers and single ticket buyers. Admittedly, these new folks no longer wanted to attend 24 Saturday night performances. Simple, we said. We’ll sell you twelve performances – or nine. Or six. And it worked. Unfortunately, another force was in play. Demographics.

As theatre, opera, orchestra and ballet companies replaced one generation with another, the new target market came of age -- Baby Boomers. Today marks the best of times for serving Boomers. Right now the target pool is 60 million of us who were born between 1946 and 1964. Any current marketing or fundraising effort need not be as efficient as those programs implemented twenty years ago. There are so many people who fit the current target, one can miss the bulls eye and still be okay.

What happens in 2020? The members of Gen X finally begin reaching the target life stage. Even if we forget the cultural divide that resulted from the demise of public arts education when this group passed through our schools, the arithmetic boils down to one number: 20 Million. That’s how many Americans were born between 1964 and 1981 -- 60 million Boomers will be replaced by 20 million Gen X’ers.

The math is simple - and it doesn’t work. Everything an arts organization does well today must be three times more efficient in 2020 if they are to maintain today’s level of success.

We could, of course, wait and see what happens when Gen Y (born between 1982 and 1995) replaces Gen X. These so-called Echo Boomers are almost as big a group as its parent generation. But our data suggests waiting is a high-risk option.

Is there a solution? Yes, but it won’t be easy. The rate of audience attrition today is unacceptably high. Nationally, TRG analysis shows that 80% of all new single ticket buyers never return for a second visit. Unchecked, attrition will continue depressing audience growth and feeding decline. Smart organizations, however, won’t ignore the danger signs or wait for the generational echo. By 2020, the best among us will have long since stopped over-prospecting for new stealth patrons and will retain almost everyone they touch.







print



Related Articles
What will your audience look like in 2020?
Young Friends, Lifelong Patrons?


Be notified of future content like this with eNews.

Sign up for TRG's eNews and you'll be notified when more content like this is posted, as well as getting our latest research, blog posts, and webinar announcements delivered straight to your inbox. Simply fill out the form below:

* indicates required

 

Case Study: Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma

Annual operating budget up 32% in 5 seasons

Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma 
 Photo: Joseph Mills

After a poor year for earned revenue in 2012, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (LTO) had rebounded and was experiencing a growth spurt. In 2013, Director of Marketing Danyel Siler had turned her attention to single tickets.

Her hard work had paid off, but season tickets were still a challenge. “Season tickets were steadily declining,” she said. “The season ticket campaign had been done the same way for years, maybe even decades. And we blamed the fall on the trend that subs were declining everywhere. Our executive director, artistic director, and I all knew something needed to change, but we didn’t know what.”

Read More>>


Killer Group Sales Campaigns

A boot camp for arts marketing and fundraising leaders


Friday, July 14, 2017
Online Workshop (9am-5pm MDT)

Do group sales contribute less than 10% of your single ticket revenues? Does your organization only sell tickets to groups reactively? Are you setting group sales goals only to fall short every year?

After subscriptions, group sales is the most important ticket-buying group for an arts and culture organization to cultivate. In this one-day session, learn how to leverage your group sales program to create a renewal base of loyal customers, while also driving new patrons to attend, all by tapping into the social networks that already exist within your marketplace. 

You’ll leave with your own, unique group sales campaign plan for next season, front-line sales strategies, and projections of what is possible for growth.

Contributors


Jill Robinson
Adam Scurto
Amelia Northrup-
Simpson
J.L.Nave Vincent VanVleet Keri Mesropov
 

Upcoming Events

Professional Development Workshops

Killer Group Sales Campaigns - July 14, 2017; Online


Executive Summit in North America - July 20-21, 2017; Colorado Springs, CO

Measuring What Matters: Building my Report Toolkit - August 12, 2017; San Diego, CA

Sales and Service on Steroids - August 12, 2017; San Diego, CA


LEARN MORE

 

Conferences

American Alliance of Museums - May 7-10, 2017; St. Louis, MO

CultureNEXT, The Canadian Arts Summit - May 12-15, 2017; Charlottetown, PEI

League of American Orchestras National Conference - June 6-8, 2017; Detroit, MI




Admin Login