by Keith Diggle
(A recommendation – go to A.D.A.M. Model before you read this)
See your community in terms of its ‘availability’ or its ‘unavailability’ to the arts organisation. We look at all those people ‘out there’ in terms of their behaviour and their attitude towards the arts. Do they attend? Would they like to attend? Is something stopping them from attending? Are they open to being persuaded to attend? Are they simply indifferent to the whole idea of attending? Are they firmly against the idea of attending? Elsewhere I have described a community as being made up of Attenders and Intenders (these make up your Available Audience) and those who are Indifferent or Hostile (these make up your Unavailable Audience)
The people we define as making up the AVAILABLE AUDIENCE should be approached using the tools of:
Corporate Advertising and Corporate Public Relations – to create favourable awareness of the organisations involved in making and presenting events
Product Advertising and Product Public Relations – to make people favourably aware of the event itself and want to attend it.
This combined approach is intended to bring significant numbers of your Available Audience to the point where they are ready to make a physical commitment to obtain the art experience you have for them. We have to bring them to the point where they actually make that commitment by buying a ticket or, perhaps, simply walking into an art gallery or museum where admission is free.
We now bring into play three vital components of arts marketing and we make decisions in these areas simultaneously – if we can – with each one influencing decisions in the other two. The aim is to arrive at the ‘perfect’ combination with Price being modified by Sales Promotion and the Sales function then ‘clinching the deal’.
Pricing – to place value on the event and to achieve the highest possible income from the largest number of ticket buyers and to price in such a way that the decision to purchase is not made complicated and is indeed an encouragement to buy (that is, to make pricing in itself a form of sales promotion).
Sales Promotion – to increase the perceived value of what is being presented in such a way that would-be customers are willing to overcome what remaining barriers to purchase remain and, above all, want to buy quickly and in quantity.
Sales – to reduce as far as possible the ‘barriers to purchase’ so that motivated potential customers BUY (that is, commit themselves) as soon as possible after they have decided that they want to buy.
In this way we maximise the response from the people who are already ‘in our camp’.
What of the others? The Indifferent and the Hostile – the UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE?
The people we define as being the UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE cannot be reached, motivated and turned into customers until they have changed their attitude towards what you want them to buy. It is a waste of time and money to use on these people the basic arts marketing tools that you would use on the available audience. So, first change the unavailable audience – or as much of it as you can – into an available audience and then you may expect to get results.
For this one must employ:
The organisations that produce and present the arts events must create special programmes that will excite, illuminate and explain what they do. The media of radio, television and film can do much to assist but the organisations themselves can also help remove the barriers of prejudice and ignorance that lie at the heart of most unfavourable attitudes through special introductory events, printed matter, videos, lectures and so on. In this area of work the greatest demands are made on those who have the gift of opening the minds of people and showing them what wonders there are to be enjoyed. So seek out your teachers (whether they are employed as teachers or not does not matter), your storytellers, your enthusiasts who have the gift of communication.
Ask yourself how it was that you came to appreciate the arts that you presently enjoy – were you born with the taste or did someone ‘open the door’ for you? A parent, a relation, a friend, a teacher – find more people like them and make use of their talents. The cost of arts events is rarely the cause of failure to attend but is sometimes given as a reason for non-attendance and often used by arts people as an excuse for failure to find audiences.
Within this large and varied group of people called the UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE the principle cause of non-attendance is attitude not money; whether it is indifference or hostility it is the attitude that must be changed first.
Simply to bring members of the unavailable audience into contact with the arts that are presented with an available audience in mind will almost never work. One does not normally place a group of young children before an orchestra and play to them Beethoven symphonies, nor does a theatre company perform Chekhov. With adults as with children there needs to be a build-up of experience that starts with digestible portions that excite the emotions. The ability to create a sense of wonder in the mind of a person who has never before experienced that wonder is, sadly, a rare gift – but not so rare that it cannot be found at all.
Art that is of value is rarely, if ever, instantly appreciated. It takes time and it usually needs that ‘door opener’ first to stimulate interest and to show the possibilities, the excitement that will in the end result in consistent appreciation. Only when people think of themselves as art lovers do they love art – and then our job is to persuade them to love our art and to be part of its audience.
A book that goes deeply into this area is Waiting in the Wings by Morison and Dalgleish (pub. 1987 American Council for the Arts).
I have devised a diagram that offers a holistic model of Audience Development (Go to A.D.A.M. Model). Here you will see the Product/Producer Amalgam (usually a combination of at least two people, departments or organisations) is the driving force using the tools of Corporate Publicity and Product Publicity to influence both Available and Unavailable Audiences – but in very different ways. Where the target is the UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE the Publicity has an educational function and is primarily concerned with Public Relations as it attempts to change unfavourable attitudes towards the particular range of art experiences into favourable ones. With this ‘missionary’ or ‘audience development’ orientation the functions of Pricing, Sales Promotion and Sales have a part to play but far, far less than when the first intention is to sell tickets to people who want to buy tickets – that is, when the target is the AVAILABLE AUDIENCE. To emphasise this different emphasis the diagram replaces the Pricing, Sales Promotion and Sales trinity with EDUCATIONAL PR when the target is the UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE.
Where the target is the AVAILABLE AUDIENCE the Product Amalgam feeds into Corporate Publicity and Product Publicity and they feed into the vitally important trinity of Pricing, Sales Promotion and Sales. Here the orientation is much more sharply focused on the need to present a favourable view of the Product Amalgam so that people are strongly motivated to buy the right to experience the Product that is on offer. Here the aim is to sell as much as possible of what is there to be sold, to derive as much money as possible from these sales and to spend as little money as possible in achieving this.
The challenge for an arts organisation is to balance its strategy so that it is, on one hand, achieving the best results from its AVAILABLE AUDIENCE and, on the other hand, investing in the long term by developing programmes to change the unfavourable attitudes of its UNAVAILABLE AUDIENCE. The problem is that the financial situation of arts organisations is often so weak that they are driven to concentrate entirely on selling tickets, earning money from their AVAILABLE AUDIENCE and have no resources to devote to developing their future audiences.
We can make a start by using this approach. Be more effective in the arts marketing work that is aimed at the audience you can reach now – get more back for your time and money – build those audiences as soon as you can! Then make absolutely sure that from your position of strength you argue the case for long term Educational PR programmes that will be paid for by the extra money your skill as an arts marketer has brought into the organisation – don’t let anyone fritter that cash away!