This essential guide explains what an audience development plan is, why you need one, and how to go about putting a plan together.
This guide to audience development planning reflects the views and experience of The Audience Agency team and is based on a combination of documented theory and our observations and experience of what helps organisations to develop thriving, sustainable audiences.
It is vital to note that there is no single right way to create an audience plan. Organisations play different roles in the 'cultural eco-system' and any audience development plan should reflect the scale, resources, personality and purpose of each. Organisations try to reach different audiences for different reasons and do so in different ways. This diversity is the sign of a healthy, creative and audience-focused eco-system.
What this guide suggests is a flexible process that can help organisations surface and test its ambitions for developing audiences and then take realistic steps towards achieving them with a good chance of success. The framework for building a plan is a simple one, suitable for all sorts of experiences, artforms and types of organisations, regardless of scale, resources or mission.
The audience plan - and phases of the planning process - can be more or less integrated into other plans, as long as it is commonly understood and used. This process is embedded in our online audience development planner. The tool offers a simplified 6-step process (as detailed in this article) guiding users through the process of creating their plan.
What is audience development?
Audience development is broard in scope and covers a large number of activities, approaches and philosophies, but is a term used to describe the way in which relationships between audiences and cultural organisations are managed.
What is an audience development plan?
We consider that an audience development plan is an explicit, suitably detailed plan for achieving a range of audience aims. These might be social, financial, creative and/or educational; most cultural organisations have the demanding task of managing all sorts of competing priorities and a plan can therefore help them to balance these. Actions listed in the plan might combine programming, marketing and communications, educational and environmental activities. However, such a plan requires collaboration between those responsible for all these areas.