It’s Not About the Destination, But the Journey

On Thursday, June 7, Paul Miller, VP of Sales & Marketing at PatronManager led ArtsBoston Member Organization staff members and community colleagues through the process of Building Your Patron Journey. According to Paul, too many arts organizations believe that they are the destination when in actuality, they are often just a stop on a patron’s journey. If we, as arts marketers, want to engage more deeply with our audiences, we must be intentional and take the first step of mapping out where we would like our hypothetical or actual patrons to go.

Not only do patrons need to be shepherded to the museum, concert hall or theater in the first place, but they must be guided specifically to ensure they keep coming back again and again. In fact, 68% of first-time patrons will never return to the art venue that is new to their life; if we would like to retain our newly recruited patron base, we need to intentionally fight that statistic.

With evangelism (customer loyalty to the point of active recruitment on your behalf) being the ultimate destination, Paul led participants through the creation of sample patron personas and journey maps.

Here are some of the tips, tricks, and facts Paul shared with the group:

  • Word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement, which indicates why a strategy aimed at evangelism can be so lucrative.

  • Be sure to set goals that are attainable and specific when drawing up recruitment and retention plans.

  • Though it revolves around relying on some consumer tropes, building a patron persona can help you classify and plan for a demographic group as if they were just one new visitor you hadn’t met yet.

  • Staff retreats are great for this kind of collaborative, long-term planning. Get outside the office with some colleagues if you can and spend a few hours dreaming about and planning for the kind of audience base you want. This can be especially good for relieving tension between and uniting the creative efforts of marketing and fundraising departments.

  • Utilize random acts of kindness to continue to surprise and delight your audiences. It helps them feel they are getting an extra “insider” view on the organization. Plus, since kindness is a two-way street, they will likely return the favor.

  • Boost your Google search presence by having trusted friends, family, and acquaintances leave (hopefully) positive reviews for you on Yelp, Google Maps, and TripAdvisor. You most likely already have a presence there, whether you know it or not, so take control of it.

  • Successful integration of patron journeys in your marketing strategies is proven to increase customer satisfaction and decrease churn.

  • We don’t survey our patrons enough for fear of fatigue or putting them off. Be sure to tell participants what your collection of their data is for, and don’t sell or share it. Surveying your patron base more often can assist with grant applications, and of course, allows you to better understand your audience.

  • Memberships in the modern era are more likely to be monthly instead of annual. What if, similar to Spotify or Netflix, arts organizations used the monthly, automatic charge model? You might get less cash up front of each season, but a steady stream of income, as well as fewer cancellations and avoiding the annual renewal push are obvious advantages in this paradigm.

If you weren’t able to make the presentation and want to learn more, please feel free to access Paul’s presentation below:

Download PDF of Building Your Patron Journey PowerPoint Presentation

Questions? Please contact us

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