Listen vs. Tell

Over a year ago I began presented a somewhat tongue-in-cheek means of differentiating among two vastly different styles of approaching sales, audience development, audience engagement, and community engagement–the means by which we connect with the public. It was rooted in the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, the “tell” and “interact” versions of the internet.

In sharing the concept with people I realized that basing it on Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 was confusing since Web 1.0/2.0 are not universally recognized and, to be honest, are more than a bit geeky. I revised the presentation around the true essence of the matter: telling and listening.

So here, as we all break for the Holidays, is the new version. (My coding skills are far less than excellent, so a prettier version of this can be found on pp. 2-3 of this document.)


In the past, it has been common for arts organizations to adopt an “If we present it, they will come” attitude in which they simply told people about what was happening and assumed someone would respond. But in a world where the consumer is far less predisposed to “buy” the arts than they once were, we need to build relationships with those we hope to be our supporters. We do this by listening.

The charts that follow present a comparison of how this might work in the “We Tell” and “We Listen” scenarios.

We Tell
Spoiler: Not the way we should be doing business!

Sales

Audience Development

Audience Engagement

Community Engagement

   This is what’s happening.

   Buy a ticket.

   This is what’s happening.

   This seems to us like a reason you might be interested.

   Buy a ticket.

   This is what’s happening.

   This seems to us like a reason you might be interested.

   Here’s something we think is worthwhile/relevant to you about it.

   Buy a ticket.

   Get a grant

   Find some poor people

   Tell them why what’s happening is good for them

   Be surprised when they don’t show up

It does not take much imagination to understand why one-way communication has very limited success. Two-way conversations–dialogue–should be the default mode for our interactions with the public. Something like this:

We Listen

Sales

Audience Development

Audience Engagement

Community Engagement

    This is what’s happening.

    This is why it’s going to be worth your time and money.*

    Buy a ticket.

   This is what’s happening.

   This is why it’s going to be worth your time and money.*

   This seems like a reason you might be especially interested.*

   Buy a ticket.

   This is what’s happening.

   This is why it’s going to be worth your time and money.*

   This seems like a reason you might be especially interested.*

   Here’s something that might make this even more worthwhile/relevant to you.*

   Buy a ticket.

Step 1

   Pleased to meet you.

   Tell me about yourself.

   This is what we do.

Step 2

   If we do [this thing*], will you help us make it better/be successful?

Step 3 (Post event)

   Let’s keep in touch.

*Suggestions made based on what we learn from listening.


Happy Holidays . . . and

Engage!

Doug

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