If putting yourself first and your audience last leads to arts & cultural marketing sin, then it is to be expected that putting your audience first will steer you to the Seven Heavenly Virtues of Arts & Cultural Marketing:
- Temperance. This contrasts with the sin of gluttony. Go easy. Don’t expect to sell, sell, sell. Don’t expect anything but to discover and experiment and work hard. The result will take care of itself. Avoid going hog-wild with new technologies. It’s easy to get caught up in the cool new toys of social media. By all means, play. But again, lower those expectations. Some new thing or idea won’t instantly solve all your problems. Facebook, for example, expanded the range of communications – but it didn’t entirely replace anything.
- Charity. Reach out to peer organizations, to small and emerging groups, to people wanting to learn about your art form. Allow stuffers in your programs. Pursue collaboration at every level. And do it all without a dollar sign or quid pro quo attached. Share what you have and wait for your audience to learn its value.
- Diligence. Our age of instant gratification isn’t very gratifying on a lot of levels. When something doesn’t work right away, we give up, and then we have to start all over again, anyway. Don’t demand your cookie right now – wait for the harvest and bake a whole batch. Don’t give up if a mailing gets no response. Try another tack…and another, and another.
- Patience. Related to diligence and contrasted with sloth. Sloth and patience can even look the same from the outside. Yet the inner difference is enormous. The slothful person waits for things to change, but makes no changes himself. The patient person makes appropriate changes and waits for … nothing. Once more, the lack of expectation is crucial. Patience means creating a sense community with other arts and cultural organizations. These groups are not your competition – but inertia, apathy and greed.
- Kindness. Word of mouth builds audience, and kindness is key to spreading the word. Have a positive outlook and cheerful demeanor – there’s no downside to that! Remember as you work that there’s an audience for everything, and your kind attitude will help find the audience for you.
- Humility. This contrasts, of course, with pride. Share credit. Involve partners. If you’ve done your job right, the community will come through for you. But it’s them coming through for you, not the other way around. Remember: no expectations. The prideful marketer expects record-breaking sales and professional recognition. The humble one wants to help nurture potential audience.
- Chastity. In contrast to lust, chastity calls for us maintain distance between ourselves and the process. Avoid personal connection to the design of a brochure or the style of a press conference. It’s not about how sexy you can make things. It’s about the audience and the art.
Here’s wishing you – and all of us – a healthy, engaging and prosperous new year!
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