Piling On (in a good way)

Who doesn’t enjoy a good list post, to that end, Ruth Hartt published something at her blog highlighting six assumptions arts orgs need to rethink.

I agree with all six of Hartt’s points and if you regularly read her blog, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 1/3 of those items focus on the need for the sector to stop taking itself too seriously and relate to the people using something other than a run-on sentence choked full of multisyllabic arts jargon.

  1. Assumption #1: Our target audiences want to hear us talk about ourselves.
  2. Assumption #2: Our patrons should love our art as much as we do.
  3. Assumption #3: It’s best for arts organizations to remain neutral on social issues.
  4. Assumption #4: Our target audiences are inspired by lofty language.
  5. Assumption #5: Our haters aren’t worth engaging with.
  6. Assumption #6: Traditional marketing strategies still work.

Check out the full article to read Hartt’s take on each of those points but I also wanted to run with her idea a bit and offer up one additional point to the list.

Assumption #7: Older patrons don’t use or are easily confused by technology

Unfortunately, this is one of the the sector’s most pervasive myths, but it’s time to start calling it what it really is: ageism. How many times have you heard from someone in a leadership position that your organization’s patrons are mostly older and therefore don’t use mobile devices to visit the website, purchase tickets, donate, etc.?

I could simply say it isn’t true and just take my word for it, but you almost certainly have the data at your fingertips to quantity it using your own website metrics. So long as you have demographics activated in Google Analytics, you can create secondary dimensions that quickly refute or prove this issue.

I published an article for ArtsHacker about this very topic that provides step by step instructions on how you can go about it.

Once you do, the data will tell you precisely how many website visitors 65 and older are visiting using mobile device and they move through the site to reach conversion goals.

What would you add to Hartt’s list?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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