The Product/Producer Amalgam

by Keith Diggle

 

The A.D.A.M. model is a flowchart that shows the two orientations of Audience Development Arts Marketing, the separate functions (and so the key areas where decisions are made) and where influences are directed. The area involving the Product is, perhaps, the most complex.

What are we selling? In most cases we are not selling a Product at all. We are if we are selling, say, a painting, a sculpture, a book, a DVD or a CD but in the case of the vast majority of arts promoting bodies we are selling the experience of the art Product. This must be what we mean when we say we are marketing an art product. As with all marketing we must know what it is we are selling. If it is an experience that is only available at some time in the future we are, in truth, selling the promise of an art Product experience. We thus try to make people want to buy – that is, pay money for – a promise. We are not alone in facing such a challenge – the holiday industry comes to mind – but we should understand that if we are to sell the promise of an experience we must make very convincing promises and people must believe that we are telling the truth. Call what we are selling a Product, by all means, but don’t overlook this essential truth.

The Product is created or it is selected. Both creation and selection are artistic functions and most clearly highlight the different status held by the Product from that of a commercial product. Artistic directors will choose to make or select art events that will appeal to the tastes of the Available Audience (they may not always do this but, in general, they will if they want to stay in harmony with that audience). Arts organisations will present and promote those arts events. Those responsible for Educational PR will involve those who make and select art Product in creating special introductory events – the ‘points-of-entry’ spoken of by Morison and Dalgleish in their Waiting in the Wings – so they too are involved in the experiences that are going to be promised to the Unavailable Audience.

So many people involved. So many different ways of giving people the experience of art. Not one individual. Not one department. When one looks at how most arts events are organised one must see that not one organisation is involved either. It is a complex group of interests and influences and it is best referred to as the Product/Producer Amalgam.

 

Choosing the Product

This choice – made by those who create or choose what is to be presented – lies at the heart of marketing and, to a considerable extent, determines the extent to which the organisation is orientated towards its Available Audience or its Unavailable Audience. Does it have the freedom to seek out and influence members of its Unavailable Audience?

Is it in a position to take its Available Audience further in artistic terms and, if so, while doing this can it also be taking positive steps to create a favourable awareness within parts of its Unavailable Audience? In an ideal world the arts organisation should be able to maintain its artistic philosophy while maintaining financial equilibrium. As Keith Diggle put it in his second book, Guide to Arts Marketing: ‘The whole art of programming is based on a sensitive appreciation of who the market is, what it wants now, what it may be persuaded to want in the future and the relating of those perceptions to what the arts organisation is capable of delivering’.

Any organisation that embraces the ideas and ideals of Audience Development Arts Marketing will first choose artistic product that falls within its artistic purview and will seek audiences for this from its Available Audience. It will also be looking searchingly at its (presently) Unavailable Audience and seeing how best it can ‘open doors’ to some sectors within it using Educational Public Relations. Any such organisation will also be choosing other artistic product that will be more palatable to those sectors while not conflicting with the organisation’s philosophy. Such choices will require new and different campaigns and audiences therefrom will need careful nurturing to bring them fully into the Available Audience fold – the marketing tool employed will be, in almost every case, Educational Public Relations.

In the short and medium term arts organisations will concentrate upon their perceived Available Audience and here the part of the A.D.A.M. diagram that is relevant is the downward sweep with Corporate and Product Publicity combining with Pricing, Sales and Sales Promotion successfully to attract significant numbers from the sectors where the likelihood of success is greatest.