If you are a communication pro working at a museum, a performing arts center, a discovery center, or any other facility that relies on ticket sales or folks coming through the door, you are probably wondering what your marketing goals should be.
Should they include attendance or ticket sales revenue? Yes, of course, because that will often be your call to action.
And that’s meant to be a BIG BUT.
Yes, it’s your goal. But it must be a shared goal with programmatic staff.
That’s because the quality of the exhibit or performance has a major effect on your ability to market it. The choices that the programmatic staff or curators are making have a very direct effect on your ability to build awareness of the event and then to encourage ticket sales or attendance.
Some exhibits or events are much easier to market than others. Program staff and communications staff both need to listen to what folks want and to create programming that is easier to market.
That doesn’t mean everything should be popular, however! Nonprofits often exist to push boundaries, raise new or hidden voices, and start difficult conversations. It is absolutely appropriate for program staff or executives to deem something important to the mission, regardless of the general appeal.
And it’s still your job to market it. This is what we here at Nonprofit Marketing Guide call “putting cheese on the broccoli.” Broccoli is good for you, but not a lot of people love it. Potatoes and tomatoes are much more popular. But nonprofits have a lot of broccoli to get into the world. That means you need some serious time, talent, and budget going toward putting cheese on that broccoli.
In other words, everyone else in your organization must acknowledge that certain events or exhibitions will be more challenging for the marketing staff, take more time, and demand more creativity.
That means the goals will also be different. Communications, programmatic, and executive staff must set realistic expectations for organizational performance and then individually for each team member.
You may even want to develop a system where you rank the expected effort required to market the exhibit or event together. Then in your annual planning, you ensure the right mix that works for both the mission-oriented staff and the communications team.
If programmatic staff fail to work with you on setting goals, I recommend you make yours about community engagement more generally.