Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Rest of Day 1 - NAMPC

Day One continued apace. I went to a break-out on corporate fundraising and had a bit of session envy when I saw the tweets from the audience engagement session. I suppose I picked up a few tips, but the session was more like a commercial for how great the two companies presenting were than general truths about corporate fundraising. Good to be reminded, though, that only 4% of giving, on average, comes from corporations, and that it is the personal connection that really causes them to give.

One person, though, said "Remember, everyone in your audience works for someone," but I no longer think that's true. Probably 25% of the audience for my clients are students, retirees, or otherwise don't work. Another high percentage, maybe 25%, are self-employed (and we seem to have a lot of self-employed board members). So that leaves 50% working for corporations, and I have to think about how to best tap that.

The general consensus, in talking to people, is that the break-outs are a little disappointing, but everyone was blown away by Chip Heath. So I guess I represent the general demographic. A good tip for the conference organizers, though, to try to curate the break-outs more. We'll see how today goes.

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Very nice reception at the San Jose Museum of Art last night, with some really good conversations, especially with Minnesota folks. Strange that we have to come all the way out here to do that. Good food, and a really beautiful museum. I don't get to museums enough, another ironic fact. I suppose this conference is all about showing me things to change.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day .5 at the National Arts Marketing Conference

#NAMPC10. The hashtags are flowing heavy. But are we perhaps to involved in our own tweeting cleverness to pay attention?

I am. I got distracted during the "Future Arts Managers" break-out session by the cold room and the blister on my feet, so ducked out and went on a short walk in the San Jose sunshine for some band-aids. I'm in a warm room, reflecting, and feel much better, thank you.

I have to say it is an ENORMOUS treat to be surrounded by smart people, thinking about the work I do. But this conference, so far, is raising a lot more questions than answers, and I suppose that's ok.

The keynote this morning was incredible. Chip Heath (author of SWITCH and MAKE IT STICK) is my new personal hero. He was bright, he was personable, he presented some really interesting ideas and "a-ha" moments in ways that made you actually think you could go home and do something with them. My favorite points were the ideas of the "curiosity gap" — where you intrigue people by hinting that you are going to give them some new information (value-added, I suppose), and the "curse of knowledge," where we know SO much about our subject that we risk overwhelming our audience with too much information, stimulus, activity.

His advice? A mis-spelled acronym, with incredible potency:
Simple
Unexpected
Concrete
Credible
Emotional
Stories

Of course, it begs the question — if we ALL tell emotional, evocative, heart-rending stories, won't our missions be lost in a sea of personal anecdotes? Will what we do be lost to who it effects?

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More later. Break-outs so far not so amazing, but I'm going to give them more time. Meanwhile, looks like we are now on official "networking break." Yesterday that included ice cream bars, so I have high hopes.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

On Friday, I went to a forum by the Arts Learning Xchange and I've been thinking about it all weekend.

The basic premise was "How to Stand Out In a Crowded Consumer Climate." General Mills' Vice President of Marketing Mark Addicks discussed their brand-building and promotion, and Fred Haberman, CEO of his own marketing firm, discussed cause-related promotion; this was followed by a brief Q&A and an interactive exercise.

As unprofessional as it is, I have to admit to ignoring the final interactive exercise and discussing with some colleagues how the topics discussed applied to their organization instead. And, though I am certainly thinking a lot more about CSR marketing, that presentation was a little more diffuse, though I do think the trends Mr. Haberman discussed (ranging from "I'm overwhelmed!" to "I'm in control!") bear further reflection, and the firm seems to be tops at what they do. (Also, a tip for Mr. Haberman — it took me 3 more and more refined Google searches to find the link above, though I did get MPR and bizjournal stories about his form on the first two hits.)

However, the presentation really sticks with me, admittedly mainly because of the presentation from Mr. Addicks. I think he got me right at the beginning when he said "You are what we work toward. Your theatres, your galleries — we work hard all week so we can attend them on the weekend." I have to admit I had never thought of the arts like that, as a reward people work to get to. Talk about uplifting!

He had a lot of other important points as well. His division at General Mills has a "brand champion" for every product, someone who they know a lot about that they base each product on — a tween girl named Sasha, a mid-thirties first time dad named Dan, etc., each with their own profile. I've long been told to have a certain specific person in mind for your marketing efforts, but this is the first time it clicked for me. I still think, though, that for a theatre it might work best to have an overall champion in mind and then one for each show, much as General Mills has one for each product. Trix is as different from the Lara Bar as a musical is from "Waiting for Godot" (though I suppose this is where we ignore the fact that "Spring Awakening" gave dramatic new life to Maeterlinck...).

He also encouraged us to consider "Is there a bigger box?" Does more competition actually help rather than hurt, especially if the issue is reframed?

Finally, he encouraged really listening to people, in everything from focus groups to Twitter. Again, this is not rocket-science advice, but looking at this through the filter of finding ways to engage, enhance, and deepen the experience gives it a whole new light.

I'm going to the National Arts Marketing Conference next weekend in San Jose, and I am sure I'll have a lot more to say on this topic by then. But right now, I'm really fascinated by how just slightly spinning your marketing approach can give you a whole new angle. Is this what I'm looking for?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Flip this House!

Many of you may not know that I did not just inherit one house — I inherited two.

My father built me a dollhouse for my 4th (?) birthday. It was incredibly deluxe, solid wood in a white colonial style with green trim, decorated in the hippest of early 1970s wallpaper and carpet. There were built-in bookcases, windowboxes, even my initials on the shutters. I was in heaven, and played with it, in many incarnations, for over ten years.

Recently, Beatrix has been especially interested in dollhouses. Every time we go to a toy store she wants to play with them. In particular, we have spent hours in Creative Kidstuff playing with the Calico Critters animal families and their homes.

But have you priced out dollhouses lately? They are ridiculous, either incredible expensive ($100 to $200 and up) for wooden ones (and I don't like any of the designs much anyway), or tacky plastic, or both. So we decided to renovate my old dollhouse and "flip" it for a picky new owner...

Here it is originally:


Here it is after some work. We decided to start out simply, just painting the walls and covering the floors with felt. We can always get more elaborate later. Patrick did almost all of the planning and work:



Here's the final version, complete with the Hopskotch Rabbit family (Beatrix's favorite from Calico Critters:


Beatrix is, predictably, in love with it. The dining room furniture ends up in the bathroom half the time and the little teeny tiny bars of soap will be the death of me, but its worth it for how much enjoyment she gets. It's nice to pass it on, and especially wonderful to have her understand how much love went into its renovation.