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The Case against Arts Marketing / Exploiting the Value of our Empty Seats / The Golden Rules of Persuasive Copy Writing

Presentations by Andrew McIntyre, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre

January 15, 200815 January 2008

Audience development, arts marketing and communications

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Andrew McIntyre provides three resources on engaging audiences for the Communicating Value conference. In The Case against Arts Marketing, he argues that arts marketing practices commonly in use today do not constitute best practices. He asks where audiences are in organizations’ visions and how organizations define audience development. For McIntyre, audience development can include awareness raising, the shaping of attitudes, generating interest, stimulating desire, making a call to action, as well as building confidence and trust.

In Exploiting the Value of our Empty Seats, McIntyre argues that current subscription techniques, advertising and season brochures are aimed at the core audience, not non-attendees. McIntyre argues that “test drive the arts” techniques can constitute a sustainable strategy for audience development”, break through non-attendees’ inertia, and fill empty seats.

McIntyre recognizes that “some people do experience real barriers” to arts attendance but that, “for most, it’s just lack of persuasion. They’re not sure that what we’re offering is what they want. They’re not going to risk time and money finding out.”

Test drive techniques need to be done carefully, in order to avoid alienating paying audiences and devaluing tickets. Follow-up and nurturing of new audience members are required. Test drive techniques can explain and enthuse, create excitement and anticipation, and fill houses. McIntyre argues that “fuller houses … unleash creativity”, “underwrite artistic freedom”, and allow organizations to “take bigger risks and plan longer runs”.

In The Golden Rules of Persuasive Copy Writing, McIntyre provides rules distilled “from over 40 focus groups on arts print and successfully tested in brochures, leaflets, direct mail letters and web pages for large and small organisations in both the visual and performing arts”.

The rules of what not to do include, among others:

  • Assume prior knowledge.
  • Use jargon.
  • Use too many exclamation marks or “fantastic snippets of reviews”.
  • Shout.

The rules of what to do include:

  • Be personal, as in personal from you, not just personal to them.
  • Be conversational.
  • Be evocative rather than just listing the features of an activity.
  • Use audience quotes.
  • Reveal a little magic.

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