Below is a short synopsis of two workshops I attended at this year’s League of American Orchestras Conference: The Orchestra Leadership Academy 1.5-day session on the Patron Growth Model and the workshop on Marketing the Arts to Death: How Lazy Language is Killing Culture.
Some highlights from the Patron Growth Model session, presented by Paul Hogle (Detroit Symphony) and David Snead (NY Philharmonic):
- Development is about ‘monetizing the feelings’ patrons have about your artistic product.
- The primary mission of orchestras is to develop patrons.
- In 2010, the average deficit among 20 larger American orchestras was nearly $3.3 million.
- From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of orchestras reporting a deficit increased from 34% to 60%.
- The Top 10 Orchestras have lost 22% of their audience in the last 15 years, which is a cumulative revenue loss of $200 million over that time.
- Attempts at greater community engagement have thus far only increased costs, not earned or contributed revenues.
- Many foundations have stopped funding orchestras, opera, and ballet companies because they are not seeing a return on their philanthropic investment. They are expressing frustration and doubt that the institutions can be sustained without fundamental change.
- 64% of orchestra revenue comes from patrons aged 65+.
- 62% of concert attendees never give.
- 52% of patrons surveyed said that the ‘orchestra doesn’t deserve my support.’
- 60% of patrons surveyed said that the ‘orchestra doesn’t need my support.’
- Orchestras in general have weak brand relationships with their patrons. While patrons would miss their orchestra, feelings of closeness are especially weak.
- “Distinctive, definitive performances in excellent settings are not the secret sauce of solvency.”
- “Orchestras lack leaders whose voices can be heard above the fray of conformity.”
- Frequency = Revenue. Building attendance frequency is the key to increasing ticket revenue and donations. In order to increase total lifetime value, the first thing orchestras should do is increase attendance frequency. Frequency trumps tenure; increasing frequency has a dramatic effect on donations.
- Key recommendation: Develop specific long-term maintenance and migration strategies based on where patrons are on the commitment pathway in order to deepen relationships and move them up the ladder.
- Need to focus efforts on Buyer/Donors (the ideal patrons are people who do both). These patrons account for 60% of an orchestra’s revenue.
- The Patron Growth Model has 3 categories that combine the efforts of traditional marketing and development activities: Patron Development & Sales (to bring the DSO in contact with as many people as possible), Patron Loyalty & Engagement (to pursue a relationship between the DSO and its audience) and Patron Advancement (to secure the long-term fiscal sustainability of the DSO).
- Often, volunteers are unwilling to make personal solicitations because they are uncomfortable with, or not proud of, their own level of support. “If you have a cheap board, you are doomed.”
- Quote of the Week: Hope is not a strategy.
Marketing the Arts to Death: How Lazy Language is Killing Culture
I highly recommend this book by Trevor O’Donnell: http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Arts-Death-Language-ebook/dp/B006N0ZJ5M
You can also follow his blog here: http://trevorodonnell.com/
What is wrong with the lifeless language we use to market the arts?
- Frozen in time
- Assumes people care
- Based on subjective assumptions
- Doesn’t compete
- Not for new media
Think of your prospective audience with regards to their avidity: Super Avids, Avids, Less Avids, Non-Avids (fence sitters).
If pre-motivation to attend is low, then you have to be less flashy and bombastic with messaging, and be more persuasive.
Fundamentals of Persuasion: 1.) Know your audience 2.) Know what they want 3.) Describe how your product satisfies their yearnings.