This comprehensive guide for Australia Council for the Arts explains what a marketing strategy is, how it should interface with the rest of an organisation’s activities, and takes you through the do-it-yourself stages to creating one.
Introduction: what is marketing?
It starts with the organisation's vision - what does the arts organisation want to be known for? And by whom?
The vision will determine the type of artistic product which needs to be developed and the audiences which need to be attracted to this product. Market research can help assess whether a vision is viable, but it should never be the determining force behind a vision. Market research can tell us what is today, but it is a poor predictor of what is possible in the future.
For example, you might decide that your arts organisation wants to be known as...
- An innovator, breaking new ground: this is a high risk strategy. You are unlikely to succeed but, for those who do, there are potentially big rewards.
- A 'safe' mainstream organisation: the risk is the potential lack of differentiation from other arts organisations and their offerings. This risk is small for major arts organisations, of medium proportions for small ones (due to their low overhead structure), and high for medium-sized organisations, which find it difficult to compete with the large institutions, offering a similar product, while also facing an unfavourable overhead cost structure.
- A niche marketer: specialising in the children, youth, old-aged, holiday or other markets, which may be defined on a demographic, socioeconomic, geographic or lifestyle/psychographic basis. This is not an option for a large mainstream organisation, although it could target a niche with some elements of its product range. It tends to be a low to medium risk strategy when the niche market is well defined, has differentiated preferences which can be effectively addressed, and is able to pay for a tailor-made product.
Marketing can help arts organisations to realise their vision, whatever it might be. However, those who determine the long-term future of the organisation have to first decide on the long-term vision.
Marketing can contribute:
- to the development of product concepts
- the identification of target markets
- the promotion of products and other offerings to these target markets
- the pricing of these offerings
- the decision on where and when to make the offering available
- the decision on value-added benefits and experiences audiences might be exposed to
- the level of service to be offered