Marketing the Arts to Death?

“If you want to sell something to somebody, you have to tell them how it will satisfy their desires. It’s one of the oldest truths known to humankind. But in the arts, we don’t really know who our new audiences are, we refuse to learn what they want, and without knowing what they want, we can’t tell them how our products will satisfy their desires. So instead we blather on endlessly about how wonderful we are – or how wonderful people should think we are – and hope that young, culturally diverse people will somehow magically find us as appealing as traditional audiences once did.”

So Trevor O’Donnell diagnoses the problem with arts marketing (at least in the US) today. While his accusations of lazy, ego-driven marketing might be exaggerated, there is much to ponder here. I certainly agree that much arts marketing is still too ‘arts-centred’ and uses too much ‘arts-speak’, instead of being customer-centred and using customer language.

Read his full blog post here. He’s so passionate about this subject he’s written a book about it, titled Marketing the Arts to Death. It’s certainly worth thinking about the language we use, and how we evaluate the quality of our marketing, to ensure our first objective is to establish meaningful communication with our potential audiences, about the types of experience they can expect to have with us.

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