When asked why he robbed banks, bank robber Willie Sutton answered, “Because that’s where the money was.”
Sounds like a simple plan and simple plans usually work best (unless you’re like Willie and simply want to break the law). When the orchestra business examines their audience and realizes they need to start attracting a younger demographic they inevitably come to an obvious question, “Where do we find younger ticket buyers?” The answer is just as simple as Willie’s, “Where they already hang out.”
So where do they hang out? According to blogads, these people hang out online reading blogs. A lot of them. Religiously. The blogads homepage states,
“Read by fanatics, pundits and journalists, blogs increasingly set the insider agenda. Use blogads to engage where opinions are made.”
They even compile statistical research data. Their most recent comprehensive survey had over 30,000 blog readers respond. If you take the time to go over their results you’ll notice that it reads like an orchestra marketing professional’s Christmas List.
The survey shows that the bulk of blog readers are around 30 something years old and have a healthy history of active participation for causes they feel strongly about. They read blogs because they contain news and information they can’t find elsewhere and prefer to ingest their news by reading it instead of watching it on television.
They tend to be a bit more politically liberal than not, well educated, work in education and technical industries, and sit squarely in the middle class earning salaries in the high five figures.
So why don’t more orchestras encourage their patrons to write blogs about their ensemble? Everyone else from computer game designers to politicians have figured out that it pays to give those who take an interest in them all the tools they need to “be a part of the organization” (a.k.a. positive word of mouth promotion; win-win).
However, in order to take full advantage of this medium, the one bit of historical psychosis many in the business will need to get over is their unrelenting need to control everything.
Instead of having the marketing department start a blog (which would tend to come across more like propaganda than anything else, undoubtedly having the opposite effect of what’s desired) they should simply provide patrons with the tools they need to participate. Like starting a message board hosted by the orchestra’s webserver or providing a downloadable template so patrons can start their own blogs (complete with free use graphics, organizational info, links, etc.).