Arts marketing

Marketing has become to play a vital role in the cultural sector and a significant number of books have been published on the subject. Arts marketing is said to be very different from traditional marketing, since it consists very much of cultural development and delivering a service to a certain audience. In this essay I will discuss in how far marketing begins the day a product is first conceived, and not the day it is ready for presentation to the audience. In order to do this, I will consider marketing planning, which consists of segmenting the market, identifying a target audience and developing audiences.

I will then briefly consider the example of the BALTIC to analyse in how far branding plays an important role in marketing an organisation. First of all it is quite important to know and understand what is meant when we speak of marketing in relation to the cultural sector. According to Jonathan Hyams “Marketing is the provider of all income for our businesses – be that from sales, from grant-aid, from sponsorship or even from donations. All sources of income, in one way or another, are generated through marketing and the more effective that marketing is the more income will result. 1 (Rodger, 1987) This definition of marketing shows already that marketing consist of more than just advertising a product to the public. But before considering the different aspects of marketing, the product itself needs to be analysed in the context of culture. In fact, in cultural management, we speak of services rather than products. Every cultural organisation provides a service to its audience, since whatever the organisation represents, may this be a performance, a visual art object or a concert, the audience gains in experience and hopefully in education.

What it will not gain, however, is a material benefit, since it cannot take the object home. Thus, we can say, that arts marketing is very different from traditional marketing, since it is marketing an intangible service, rather than a physical object. “Unlike physical goods that are manufactured and put into inventory, services are typically produced and consumed at the same time” 2 (Kotler and Scheff, 1997) This is particularly true when it comes to performances. Thus it is already obvious that marketing, especially in the cultural sector, begins long before the product is presented to the audience.

Marketing culture demands a vast amount of research from the very first beginning. As the definition above already says, marketing includes fund raising, audience development and advertising. In order to be able to market culture effectively it is very important to have a marketing plan. McDonald (1999) defined it as “a clear and simple summary of key market trends, key target segments, the value required by each of them, how we intend to create superior value (to competitors), with a clear prioritization of marketing objectives and strategies, together with financial consequences”3 (Hill and O’Sullivan, 1995)

So in general we can say that the marketing plan analyses the different aspects of an overall marketing strategy in order to secure the best achievable result. Key factors in a marketing plan are market segmentation and market targeting. Market segmentation consists of identifying different marketing groups. A market segment consists of people with similar needs and interests, or more simply, similar lifestyles. The market can be divided in different ways. There is, for example, the geographical segmentation, which regroups people according to where they live, e. . it puts all those together who live in a five-mile radius of a particular venue. After this it can be identified in which part of this area the most culturally interested people live. Here we speak of ACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods) which assumes that “certain types of people, identified by their residential neighbourhood location, will be more likely to respond to a specific appeal than others. “4 (Rodger, 1987) This can be done most effectively in capturing name and address of people who have purchased tickets with an organisation.

This way, audiences can be segmented according to the areas they live in. However, audiences can also be segmented by demographic characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnic background, education… After having identified different market segments, the organisation can focus on a specific target market, which might respond best to the organisation’s mission, aims and objectives. “Target marketing is the process by which the specific needs of different parts of the total potential audience are matched with the artistic product being produced. 5 ( Hill and O’Sullivan, 1995) Marketing a specific art product can be focused on one single group, here we speak of a concentration strategy, or it can be aimed at more groups, which is known as multi-segment marketing. In order to target those different markets the organisation needs to focus on its potential audiences. In fact audience development and research are a very important aspect of marketing. An organisation needs to understand the audiences’ needs, wants and expectations in order to capture their attention.

To develop, increase and keep audiences, the organisation needs to understand what influences their decision on participating at particular events. This includes different aspects of marketing research. First of all the organisation needs to identify what motivates people to attend their events or venues. Then it needs to analyse how audiences perceive them compared to their competitors. The product needs to be considered very carefully as well, in terms of opening hours, parking possibilities, catering… In case an organisation is selling tickets it needs to consider entry fees.

Then promotional research needs to be done, in order to identify what kind of promotion material would have the most impact on the target audiences, and finally the organisation’s policy needs to be considered in terms of whether an event or exhibition is aimed at educating people, attracting tourists or changing the image of a town. “Because new ways of satisfying needs are constantly emerging, existing ways are superseded. What used to satisfy needs and wants perfectly well a decade ago is now no longer appropriate.

These changes are often driven by developments in the external environment, particularly technology. ” 6 (Hill and O’Sullivan, 1995) Since audiences change all the time, an organisation needs to change its products and services as well according to these new needs. Without doing this, an organisation can neither create new audiences, nor keep the existing ones. Nothing will attract the first ones, and the latter ones will get bored and start going to newer more exciting places and venues. “An Organisation operates in a constantly changing and often turbulent external environment.

The macro environment consists of large-scale fundamental forces – demographic, social, cultural, economic and political – that shape opportunities and pose threats to the organisation. These forces are largely uncontrollable but must be monitored for purposes of both short- and long-term planning. “7(Kotler and Scheff, 1997) Thus in terms of marketing research an analysis of the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (known as the SWOT analysis) is of great importance. “An audience can also be thought of as comprising all those with whom an individual or organisation has some form of communication. 8 (Hill and O’Sullivan, 1995) Thus we can say that in addition to the attenders of events, the funding bodies, educational establishments and media need to be considered in the marketing strategy as well. When it comes to securing funding for a certain project the organisation needs marketing as well. In order to secure funding, all the market research is of primary importance and in addition to this the overall mission needs to be presented in an accurate way. Funding bodies will not give any money to a project, which they do not like.

Thus the organisation needs to be aware of how to sell their ideas to them. This first part of the essay clearly illustrates in how far marketing a product begins long before it is first presented to the public. Behind a marketing campaign lies a lot of research, which will both shape the way the product is marketed, who it is marketed to, and this research can also affect the nature of the product. Another important aspect of marketing a product lies in the overall marketing of the organisation. Branding plays a particularly important role in this. Branding means establishing an identity for your organisation/artistic product/event that your customers will recognize and identify with” 9 Branding can help to capture the specific individual personality of an organisation and communicate this through a visual statement. In this sense a consistent logo is very important. Once it has been established, people will recognise it and identify it immediately with a specific organisation. According to Mary K. Craig a logo should appeal to a target audience and identify an organisation in a unique and distinctive way. 10 The BALTIC’s branding is very interesting in this sense.

It has been developed “in order to retain a consistency with the overall design philosophy and identity of the project. “11 The fundamental aim of BALTIC’s branding is to reflect contemporary art, maximum flexibility, honesty, and simplicity. BALTIC’s identity is very distinct and easily recognizable. “BALTIC’s straightforward identity was established early on: starting with the impact of the industrial building and expressed through a distinctive typeface and graphic style. The letters are based on an old design from the 1940s and now form a protected typeface called ‘BALTIC Affisch’. ” 12 (Appendix)

The example of BALTIC clearly illustrates how a design can be used to reflect an organisation’s overall image, and this can be consistently used in the building itself, its marketing material, its letters and its shop. BALTIC managed to create a unique, distinctive brand which is easily recognisable by everybody, and which expresses perfectly well its mission. Thus BALTIC is marketing itself all the time, without exactly having to focus on a specific exhibition. In general, it is always difficult to market a cultural event, since, as already mentioned above, cultural products are intangible and can’t be tested before purchasing.

A car can be test driven before buying, clothes can be tried on, but a concert, a performance or an exhibition cannot be experienced and “tested” beforehand. This is what makes cultural marketing so distinct and also so difficult. And this of course, requires a strong branding such as BALTIC’s, since it represents a familiar organisation in which people can have trust. Going back to the statement in the essay question, which claims that marketing begins the day the product is first conceived, not the day it is ready for presentation to the audience.

Of course if we consider a music festival like Orange Evolution 03 for example, it seems quite obvious that marketing needs to begin long before the event itself, since the actual event doesn’t last long, and it needs to be consumed at that specific moment in time. This is where cultural marketing differs from traditional marketing, since “normal” products can be kept for quite some time, and it does not matter whether somebody buys a car today, tomorrow or in 2 months. Services, such as music festivals and theatre plays, are produced and consumed at the same time, whereas a traditional product can be produced long in advance. Among arts marketer’s greatest challenges is the fact that services are perishable. Services cannot be stored or preserved. ” 13 (Kotler and Scheff, 1997) And just because of this, marketing begins long before the product is first conceived To conclude it can be said, that marketing in general begins always long before the product is first presented to an audience, since behind the actual marketing lies a long way of research, which affects the way a product will be marketed considerably. Especially when it comes to non-profit organisations, funding bodies need to be convinced of the importance and value of a project.

In order to convince them to fund the project, it needs to be marketed to them long before it is presented to the public. In addition to this, an organisation needs to market itself all the time in order to be really successful, and this is best done by having a very distinctive branding identity, like the BALTIC has. Marketing is a central aspect of the cultural sector and plays an important role from the beginning till the end, since even after an event, marketing the organisation carries on through the audiences, which recall both their positive and negative experiences to their friends and families.