Event mad and still an empty database

So many arts and cultural organisations spend an enormous amount of time organising events, from once off gigs to mammoth festivals. Event management, as we all know, is high on hand holding, needs infinite patience, tons of cash and lots of willing participants. There is nothing more humiliating than spending months organising an event where no one shows up. It’s like being in your worst nightmare, naked and exposed.  

As someone who has organised events of evey kind, it’s very important to get the most from your audience, now that you have them there. Make sure your hard work pays off. Think about the cost of acquisition for that one visitor to your museum, gallery or gig. Business folk look at this cost all the time but cultural and nonprofits seldom do. It costs you a great deal of money, time and effort every time a person walks through your door. Know how much that acquisition costs.

Think about your goals for each event and prioritise them:

1. Audience building

2. Profile building

3. Reengaging past participants

Once you have decided on the order of your goals, then you need to formulate what you want your audience to do next - after they participate in the event. This is the key to keeping your audience in the marketing loop. You need ways to gather as much information as possible about each participant and bring them back to the conversation again. Otherwise, you are working really hard organising events and not profiting from them in the long run. Now make sure nobody walks away again without learning more about them.

Stay focused on your goals. Think about the whole marketing loop; your events, website, blogs, email newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn and YouTube. Make sure to connect your real world activities with your online presence. Give your audience places to talk to you, to comment and to leave reviews and testimonials. Events are wonderful, time consuming and exciting. Make sure you gain the most from them.

Image: (cc) Michael Clesle

The number one cardinal sin of social media

Heather Mansfield wrote a post last week documenting the 10 common mistakes made by nonprofits on social media. Heather lists everything from not adding social icons to your website to not blogging, among others. However, there is one mistake Heather did not list. That is not owning your own audience. Owning your own audience goes back to the very basics of any business development strategy both online and offline. If you don’t own your own audience how do you expect to grow your audience and your business?

Here’s my reply to Heather’s post:

"I think the biggest failing with nonprofits and cultural organisations, is not owning their own audience. Facebook, Twitter and social media networks are fantastic to grow your reach and connect with your audience. But if you don’t own your audience and your audience is based on other services outside your own database; then organizations are not harnessing the potential for social media enough. Gather email addresses everywhere, get to know your audience. Think of each relationship as a long ball game and converse rather than broadcast. Social media is a real boon to the nonprofit sector in terms of time and budget. Owning your audience and building a strategy around the customer journey is the key to success here. The cart before the horse so to speak. Thanks for your post."

When utilising social media think about how you will own your audience, how will you get the most from each interaction. Don’t forget about the real world either. In the past week I have attended two events, a play and a really fine exhibition. In both cases, not one email address was gathered or any testimonials recorded. The play had a full house on the night I attended and the exhibition sold quite a number of pieces. Golden opportunities for continued conversation were lost. In each case, audience members were eager to attend. Any information about these participants were lost at a time easiest to engage with them - at the event.

For nonprofits and all business and cultural organisations, think about linking up your online and offline activities. Own your own audience and don’t continue to make the number one cardinal sin a reality for you.

Image: (CC) owaief89

Promoting the Arts online. Part 2

Part two of my presentation, promoting your work online devised for the VAI and Belfast Exposed. This segment focuses on social media platforms, how to get the best return for your time, along with some fantastic Arts case studies. Thanks for all your comments over on Arts Professional Ireland. Final part tomorrow.

Here is part one of my presentation, promoting your work online, devised for Visual Arts Ireland and Belfast Exposed. This presentation specifically teaches arts and cultural organisations and professional artists how to promodete their practice and grow their profile effectively online. By looking at your the customer journey and the marketing loop, and by integrating all your touch points online; you can build a very effective, measurable, online strategy. Watch your tribe grow!

This presentation was part of the Visual Arts Ireland professional development series, recorded in Belfast Exposed, April 2011. My thanks to Monica for the invitation. Enjoy.