The end of a year is a good time to remind ourselves to PURGE ourselves of counter-productive habits and beliefs – an opportune time to revisit the classical Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy and Gluttony.
It’s time to expunge the Seven Deadly Sins of Arts & Cultural Marketing:
- Wrath. Anger at the world for being the way it is makes no sense. Yet arts & cultural marketers who blame the media, the audience, their competitors and their funders are legion. It’s only human, of course, to rail at a situation seemingly impossible to overcome. But it accomplishes nothing. That’s why wrath is a sin: It diverts energy from solving problems to brooding on them. Wrath is overcome simply by facing reality. Deal with the situation.
- Greed. Grabbing short-term gain at the expense of long-term growth is sadly typical of many organizations (especially in tough financial times). Creating long-term value is essential to survival, but greed blinds us to that and causes us to maximize revenue, no matter what. The cost: Audiences – real and potential – sense the distance between them and the organization. Participation dissipates. Eventually, so do ticket sales.
- Sloth. Do it the same way. Why bother to change? Brochures and newspaper ads are enough. That used to work, so let’s not bother to re-invent the wheel, okay? How do I know the old way won’t start working again? Why should I believe that the new way will have any effect? It’s best to do things as we’ve always done them.
- Pride. You did it. The community had nothing to do with it. You – and you alone – pulled the wool…I mean…made the sale. It was a competition: You or the audience. And you won! You did it! Aren’t you wonderful?
- Lust. Lust contrasts with its legitimate cousin, desire. It’s a subtle distinction but important. Desire means wanting an outcome for the sake of the outcome. Lust means wanting an outcome for the sake of your ego. Some arts marketers fall in lust with the process and forget the reason for the process. Love those cool brochures! And what about our logo!
- Envy. Wrath’s calm relative doesn’t bother getting angry at media, audiences and the rest, it just resigns bitterly to the (seeming) fact that everybody else has it better. If only the symphony were as sexy as the opera. If only the opera had the youth appeal of the ballet. If only the ballet had the established creds of the symphony. If only the education department had a bigger budget. If only, if only, if only…. Stop looking at other people’s successes and look first to your own. Look hard enough and you’ll begin to discover why you’ve had the successes you’ve had, and you’ll be on the road to repeating them.
- Gluttony. A glutton eats anything, without regard for that food’s affect on his or her body. A gluttonous arts marketer just wants people to buy tickets. But the strange truth is that, the only thing worse than having no audience is having the wrong audience. A mismatch of audience and product will send the audience home in disgust and keep the right audience out of the loop!
As applied to arts & cultural marketing, the Seven Deadly Sins all involve concentrating energy on sales, sales, sales, at the expense of ignoring the ticket-buyer.
Audiences are cultivated, not sold, and Job One for arts & culture in the 21st century is to grow them.
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